WHAT I’VE BEEN READING LATELY
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Not only do I love to write, I love to read. I think Stephen King even said it. If you want to be a good writer, you not only need to write, you also need to read…a lot. I do both.
I don’t read for research. In fact, at best, any skills or info is something I pick up by attrition.
There are so many writers with good stories, but their writing sucks.
Then again, there are a lot of writers that not only suck at writing, their stories suck along with it.
On the other hand, there are some writers that write very well, perfect for me, but their stories suck.
You get all kinds.
Nope, I don’t read to hone my chops. I read for pure pleasure. If I pick anything up, back to the second paragraph. I pick things up by attrition. If I want any writing tips, well… I used to have a shelf with a few books on writing. I opened them up and leafed through them and never touched them again. Either the Henderson Writer’s Group has them in their wyberry, or I took them to Goodwill.
The only books on writing I have ever kept are reference books. Now those, I’ve actually used. Chicago Manual of Style is a good example.
Now to the point.
BOOKS I’VE READ
As usual, I won’t go into specific titles because I don’t want to slam other authors here. I leave that to my honest and blunt (I try not to be brutal) reviews on Amazon. I also make no bones when I love a book and the majority of my reviews are four and five star.
The past few months have been mostly good ones. However…
I picked up this one hardback, which was a mistake, because the back cover blurb looked intriguing. After leafing through it, I noticed it was solid third-person past tense, and it did not look omniscient. A trivial thing included a blurb by a noted author I like (sometimes).
What is it Ahnuld says in that movie? “Beeg meestake!”
This friggin’ monster of a book was a character study. Almost nothing happened…forever! When it finally did, what little action there was came to a screeching halt when the author went into a character study about one of the characters he forgot to delve into earlier. This was right near the climax of the action!
Then one of the heroes dies, which pissed me off. The real clincher was the ambiguous ending that didn’t resolve anything. I mean, it didn’t resolve a thing, literally, and I cringe using the term because this story was literal fiction in the extreme, though I think those of that bent might call it a potboiler (potbroiler?). In fact, some of the reviews alluded to that.
Okay, that was the one ponderous tome I was stuck with while confined to a bed in the hospital.
Another slightly quicker read was a science fiction story I took a chance on, because it was in third-person. Unfortunately, the style was frenetic and scatterbrained in approach and it was really hard to follow. Since I was confined to the bed, I made do, and suffered through it. The author assumed I’d read the previous two novels in the series, which I hadn’t, so I didn’t get a lot of the references, though he gave half-hearted explanations. As for the two previous books? No thanks!
Then there was a murder mystery by a female writer. I breezed through it in a single day. It was a pure pleasure to read! What a difference!
Right now, I’m reading a third-person omniscient thriller. I knew what to expect going in, so there were no surprises. It’s a lot better edited that the last one but still has some glaring mistakes. I love the story but the author insists on the dispassionate omniscient style and it is full of tell. I just have to live with it to enjoy what is a pretty good story.
DOES ANY OF THIS AFFECT MY WRITING?
Some authors I’ve known and heard of say they decided to take up writing because they thought they could do better than what they were reading. I’ve thought that once in a while. In fact, my inspiration to start was other writers, but not necessarily because I thought I was better than them. I just wanted to join them. After doing it myself now for so many years, I don’t judge others based on my own abilities. I judge other writers based on what I think of them as a reader, regardless of what I am as a writer. Can I do better than them? That is entirely up to my audience, not me!
All I can do is write the best I can, keep my integrity intact, and keep my standards intact. Whether it stands the test of time is up to everyone else.
Oh, and there’s also the matter of the actual story to go along with that!