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Archive for December, 2013

I’ve been writing book reviews on Amazon for a couple of years.  The following are things that are detrimental (sometimes deadly) to the reader’s enjoyment of your work.  These are culled not just from my reviewing but from other reviews by real readers who perhaps didn’t get what they expected.

MISTAKES—Mistakes in grammar and spelling is distracting and, more importantly, interrupts the reader’s involvement in the story.

CREDIBILITY—Research, research, research.  Assume nothing in your writing.  Fact check everything.  If your reader finds anything in your work that they know to be untrue or suspect, you will lose them nearly immediately.  You risk having them put your book down and never reading another thing you write.

TIMELINE—Readers hate a timeline that doesn’t work, and they will either consciously or subconsciously recognize this fact.  You can’t fool them.  Make sure your timeline of events is physically possible and logical in its execution.  Don’t confuse your readers.

PREDICTABILITY—Unless you are writing romance novels, which are expected to be predictable, avoid formulaic plots and story lines that any intelligent reader with half a brain will see right through.  About half of Amazon reviewers mention this, when they encounter it, as being detrimental to their enjoyment of the book.

BAD ACTORS—Characters acting unbelievably and/or against what the reader would reasonably expect based on how the author has portrayed the character.

CONTRIVANCES—Annoying plot devices that are unrealistic and obviously written only for the purpose of forcing the story to work.

RABBIT HOLES—Extraneous information that doesn’t contribute to the story and makes the reader wonder why the author has included it.  Will aggravate a reader who searches in vain for some ultimate purpose or meaning and finds none.

BADLY PLACED NARRATIVE—Too much too early, telling in places where you would do better to show, information dumping, etc.  Weave in your details a little at a time.

EXCESSIVE NARRATIVE—Danger…beautiful prose ahead.  Just because you can write it, doesn’t mean you should.  The reader just might detour around it and then feel guilty that you made them do it.  Too much of anything is a bad thing.  Don’t drown your readers in endless narrative.  They don’t want to be held underwater until the important parts of the story resume.

ABRUPT ENDINGSAbrupt endings, tied up neatly with a bow, angers readers.  They have put a lot of time into reading your work—don’t short-change them because you are in a hurry, have a deadline or are just plain tired or out of ideas.  Don’t draw it out, but don’t quit too soon.  THE END IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE BEGINNING.

STOPPING THE ACTION—A pause button is a useful tool on your remote control but has no place in your writing.  Once an action is underway, slowing down or stopping it prior to its culmination, is like throwing cold water on your reader.

CLICHES—Yes, they can be used sparingly in dialogue, but they are trite and jump off the page, annoying readers.  When they’ve paid good money for a book, they don’t want to see and read something they’ve heard a hundred times before.  It is possible to be more creative than that and readers deserve it.  Best idea is to avoid them.  Create your own.

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Just when I was thinking of writing about how idiotic our entire world has become, I came upon the plight of Phyllis May and her sock monkey, Rooster Monkburn.  TSA agents in St. Louis deemed Rooster to be a threat to the safety of the passengers on May’s flight and disarmed said sock monkey of his tiny gun…”a prop for her little friend” claims Phyllis May.  Sure…that’s what all the sock monkey ladies say.  TSA agents said his two inch ‘weapon’ could be mistaken as a real gun.  They were dissuaded from calling the police.  Phyllis makes these monkeys, apparently in different styles and of varying occupations.  Phyllis, I suggest you do not make any other possibly threatening or antagonistic sock monkeys in the future.  I’m positive there will soon be a statute banning these.  I’m hoping that vintage sock monkeys will be offered protection under the law by a grandfather clause.

Rooster’s Mug Shot

(I think he’s kind of cute.)

His gun is plainly visible but properly holstered on his hip.  Not sure how fast his draw is…

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