** I’d noticed recently that Avon redesigned its website, and it has also now announced the launch of Share Your Book, a place for aspiring writers to post writing samples and receive feedback from readers, editors, and other authors. It reminds me somewhat of the First Page feature at Dear Author, but since this one is sponsored by a publishing house, I suspect there will be more of a presence from editors giving comments and hopefully finding new talent. Avon has had similar features in the past, including the FanLit contest that brought us Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Manda Collins, Elyssa Patrick, and several other authors. I’ll be curious to see what new voices emerge from this new feature. More than a few writers have emerged from the self-publishing world recently, and it looks like Avon is trying to bring some of that talent on board. (more…)
Archive for the ‘writing’ Category
Generally, I don’t have a problem with profanity in a book. I’m not going to run shrieking away from a character who drops the f-bomb or uses cuss words when he/she is particularly agitated. I prefer my characters to be as real as possible, and a lot of real people do swear.
However, I recently read a book where, for the first time, the characters’ use of profanity actually colored my perception of those people. Both the hero and heroine employed a range of common swear words as part of their normal speech patterns, and since the writer used third-person viewpoint, the characters also thought and viewed the world using the full spectrum of profanity. I found that I didn’t really like either the hero or heroine all that much, however, I couldn’t really put my finger on why that was. Neither one had done anything particularly unpleasant, nor did they have a tendency to whine or throw self-pity parties. They treated those around them with respect. Generally, there was no real reason I should have any opinion of them at all.
Then I realized that part of my distaste for these fictional people was their constant use of profanity. In my review (not yet posted), I likened the situation to having met a person for the first time and being a bit put-off when they used salty language without really knowing me or how I’d react. Or, perhaps more apt, how I feel about foul language in a public setting as opposed to keeping it to their personal world. (more…)
Note: There may be spoilers of some of the various books discussed in this column. I find A books easy to recognize: basically, everything has to go right. Fs are likewise relatively straightforward. But what about the B, C, and D books, in which something has gone wrong, but not everything? The book has a solid, if cliched, plot, but the writing is catastrophic: is that a C or a D? Can a great hero and interesting writing save an unlikeable heroine? And what if, God forbid, somebody kills a dog?
The AAR staff worked to define these elements, which I call dealbreakers. We generally agreed that dealbreakers (unlike pet peeves) must be big or repetitive, must be outliers from the general quality of the book, and are by definition personal and subjective. As Blythe wrote, “Something like ‘I can’t read books with violence against animals’ or ‘I simply won’t tolerate a book with adultery.’ The nature of the term implies that it’s something that drives you nuts but might not even bother someone else at all.”
The most common dealbreakers cited by AAR Reviewers fell into four categories: characters, writing, plot, and research. (more…)
While many of you are aware of “copywriting boobos”, I tend to be more aware of descriptive information. I want it to seep into my subconscious setting the scene, showing me the action but not be a part of the story. I think of adjectives and adverbs as the structure or foundation of a novel. You know that it there and it makes an impression but it doesn’t scream out at you.
I am not saying that stark and unadorned writing doesn’t have its place, but adjectives and adverbs are wonderful things when used correctly. They take you from, “See Leigh run,” to “See exhausted but unwavering Leigh stagger wheezily to the finish line.” They change a simple black and white thought by adding vibrant color to it(albeit sometimes purple color), and crafting an image that comes alive in our mind. And having stories come alive is of critical importance.
The astounding success of 50 Shades of Grey has a lot of folks bewildered. Publishers included, quite clearly.
While all of us stumble around trying to make sense of it, I was stumped when a reporter asked me recently why it was such a success. Expecting a succinct answer, I started to talk about covers and the appeal of the hero and it clearly wasn’t what she was looking for. She wanted a firm and fast answer.
And I just didn’t – and still don’t – have it. But you know what? Its clear that publishers don’t either.
I’ve seen the recommendations for those who liked 50 Shades and they strike me as tone deaf. As in, “here, are our stale traditionally published books, give us some of your money” recommendations. Please.
One thing that’s completely clear to me: 50 Shades is fresh. As in fresh in tone and feeling and style. It’s got a feeling of freshness to it that I haven’t seen coming out of New York in a very long time.
New York publishers are bound (sorry) by tradition. They do things the same way they’ve always done them. And they are sluggish. I have no doubt that they are scrambling right now to find the next new 50 Shades authors. They’ll put them on the fast track and, gee, we might see a resulting book in about a year. Too little too late, I’m afraid since who knows what readers will want by that time? Chances are, it won’t be another 50 Shades.
Everyone has pet peeves. Mine are mostly grammatical. Confusing homonyms (your/you’re, they’re/their/there, etc.), overuse of ellipses, and comma splices are all things that make my eyes twitch when I’m reading something, whether it is a Facebook status, article, billboard, or book.
Luckily, published books are generally pretty well edited. A few mistakes may slip through, but they’re minor. As the daughter of a copy editor, I have both an appreciation for correct grammar and spelling, and also an understanding of occasional human error. A typo rarely bothers me. But mistakes en masse? Poorly edited writing can shape my opinion of the work and its author.
You might have heard about Jacqueline Howett, a self-published author who would have remained under the radar, had she not lashed out at a reviewer in a bizarre, profane, and ungrammatical fashion. Authorial professionalism is a topic for another blog; what I found most interesting about this particular review was not its reaction, but the reviewer’s justification for giving The Greek Seaman two stars. The plot and characters actually sound quite interesting. Big Al, the reviewer, called it, “compelling,” “a good story,” and suspenseful. What killed it were the typos and grammatical errors.