DAVID LYNN GOLEMON – A LOVE/HATE THING
I have to state right up front that this writer has not influenced me in any way. He isn’t part of my tribute series. However, he’s a writer I need to address as he’s one that’s been a constant pleasure yet huge irritation since I first discovered him through his novel Legend back in 2008.
Mr. Golemon writes high-concept thrillers in the vein of James Rollins, Jack DuBrul and Clive Cussler. His stories center around the Event Group based out of a vast underground complex under Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. Funny, that’s almost right under my house! Their main job is to go after and fix events that alter history.
Throughout the books, Mr. Golemon has introduced numerous fantastical plots, icky bugs and lots of bad guys. Some of them, especially in one Mr. Henri Fabreaux, are recurring baddies who may or may not be as bad as they seem. There are plenty of heroes like Jack Collins and Senator Lee and a host of others. These are all characters I’ve come to like and enjoy since first being introduced to them back in Legend.
Now for the bad part. Mr. Golemon is one of the worst writers I’ve ever seen make it to print. I cannot fault all of it on him. A lot of the text is jaw-dropping bad. Any editor worth their salt should’ve caught much of this. They didn’t. Some of his earliest books didn’t even make it through spell check. I’m not kidding. They were that bad.
We, as struggling writers, go to conventions, or submit to agents. We sometimes get rejection letters. Most of them are generic. Once in a while, we get an actual response or a critique. We get tons of advice from those agents, publishers, editors and other writers through books, seminars… you name it. Let me list exactly what they tell us not to do by examples out of Mr. Golemon’s books.
#1. Head-hopping. Though the man at least keeps the stories in solid third person, he holds no boundaries whatsoever for any other point of view. There are no rules at all. Point of view jumps from one character’s head to another at will. Willy nilly, literally, depending on who’s speaking, acting, whatever. If there are twenty characters in a scene, he jumps from one head to the next at will, from paragraph to paragraph, even within the same sentence. Try fixing on the feelings and emotions of twenty characters at once in a single scene!
#2. Foretelling. He loves to tell you what the characters are going to experience before they do. This is a pet peeve of mine. I hate when authors do that. Some agents do also. Let the reader find out when the characters do!
#3. Repeated words. He loves to repeat words within the same paragraph, sometimes within the same sentence. She started the engine then revved the engine several times before the engine warmed up…. (not an actual example).
#4. Loves to start sentences with As. Loves to use as throughout the story. Nuff said about that.
#5. Lots of passive and awkward phrasing. In one book there were so many that some sentences didn’t make any sense.
#6. Lots of incomplete sentences. Jarring examples throughout his books.
#7. Liberal use of started to and began to in some places while a total absence in others.
#9. Way too many major characters. Way too many scene changes that have nothing to do with POV changes.
How many of you have received critique letters from agents (yeah, rare, I know) with these same notes? Yet these same things were in a supposedly edited and published book? Several edited and published books? Even in hardback?
I admit to being hypocritical because I keep buying Mr. Golemon’s books. Though terribly written, I still find a great story buried in there. They are interesting, full of drama, humor and great scenes. I love them.
Apparently, his publishers just see numbers and don’t care about quality. The numbers must be enough for them and he must sell well enough that they keep renewing his contract. I wish he’d up his game and write better, but as I’m reading Carpathian, his latest, I can see that’s not the case.
I accept him for what he is, and I either enjoy the stories and ignore the horrid writing, or I drop him and move on. My only irk is that he somehow got a contract where much better writers can’t even get the time of day. There are plenty of other worse writers that struck a chord with the public and made millions. I won’t name names, but some of my readers here have already told me who, and I’ve suffered through the movies that my wife and kids love. Luck of the draw, I guess. My hat’s off to you, Mr. Golemon. You grabbed for the brass ring and caught it.
I’ll keep buying his books. My only wish is that he’d up his game and learn to write well, or that his editors would get off their duff and fix what they should have done from day one. Fat chance.
One more thing. For those of you that read adventure and high-concept thrillers, despite what I might have said above, I still highly recommend David Lynn Golemon. If you can get around his writing quirks, the stories are great. I’d at least try one of them and see if you can tolerate his prose. If so, I don’t think you’ll regret it, even if you get irked at the poor editing. I always look forward to the next one.