I’m a heavy reader, an average of a novel a week, sometimes two. I’m lucky in that the quantity never fails to give me inspiration. This week was no exception. As I usually do, I don’t like to cite the specific book because I don’t want to give you any bias if you happen to read any of these books. I want you to either find it on your own, or interpret it your own way. Maybe you’ll see things differently. Maybe I’m too sensitive, or you haven’t learned to spot these things yet. Maybe my articles will help you do that, so your writing will improve.
I recently finished a book by a very popular thriller author. This was a one-off from his usual series. The premise was interesting with plenty to like. However…
I HATE AGENDAS
I’m not sure how deliberate the author pursued his plot, but the premise, though quite imaginative and off the beaten path, bordered on…
I HATE PREACHING
Yup, you got it. Preaching. The author never missed an opportunity to pound his message home, using thinly-disguised plot devices to bring that message to the forefront on almost every page. That could’ve brought the action to a crawl, except he kept the chapters and scenes short, which kept the pace fast.
The worst part is that I got the message in the first chapter. I kept saying to myself, Okay, I got it. Now move on with the story!
MAKE YOUR POINT AND MOVE ON
I repeat, make your point and move on. Some agendas are not as controversial as others, while some are just downright annoying. In this case, the agenda itself wasn’t so much annoying. I agree in principal and sympathize with the author. The problem is that I didn’t want to hear it over and over again. As a result, it made me that much more critical of the other writing flaws. There were many I might not have noticed otherwise.
After reading the reviews, a lot of other people felt the same way – some about the writing, some about the agenda.
People don’t like to be preached to in a fictional story. It’s worse when they know the author, and expect something different. We, as readers, feel ripped off. At least I do.
When you’re a new author, just getting started, readers see the preaching and agendas and they think you always write that way. If they agree, they become fans. If they don’t, you just lost half your audience. Word gets around. All of a sudden, you’re on one side of the fence, whether you intended it or not.
You may not even realize you’re going overboard with your pet political or social view. That’s where those second sets of eyes come in handy. Make sure those second sets of eyes aren’t just close friends, who tend to be of the same political and social group. You need those outsiders to look for what you can’t see. I’m not saying let it go overboard, but don’t dismiss all those out of left field comments (and I’m not talking politically, per se).
Do yourself a favor and write a story everyone can enjoy in your genre, unless you’re specifically targeting a political or social group. If that’s the case, like Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, for example, all bets are off.