Some books I’ve read recently are so bad that I briefly wonder if I hallucinated them. These books leave me wanting to clutch my head, roll my eyes, heave huge sighs and start a group called fellow-lame-book-readers-unite so we can commiserate together. Only, I don’t like bashing particular books on-line, so that wouldn’t really work out. But, since I’m not going to give y’all any book titles here, I can discuss the flaws of these books to my hearts content.
Now y’all are probably wondering why I read these books so here’s your answer: I learn from them. Plus, they always have a few redeeming qualities. And, last but not least of all, sometimes it’s the second half of the book that leaves me wanting to shout words of sarcasm. (By the time I get into the second half of a book it’s very hard for me to stop reading.)
Here are some flaws that leave me wondering if the reader and editor were even working on the same manuscript together:
1. Using the same word three times in the space of about ten words. See, using the same word multiple times can get wordy and reduntant. I like sifting through words and choosing the best word so I don’t use unnecessary words. Using the same word too many times can make brains hurt.
2. Using the same exact description twice in a book. Sometimes this might work, such as if you use “dark blue eyes” when describing a certain character. But if you’re talking about some obscure thing, a character talking to her horse for example and write predictably the horse did not reply, that’s semi-ok. But using it twice? Please, no.
3. Now this might just be me but I like getting introduced to a new word. I see it, look it up (if I’m reading on my kindle, at least) and learn it’s meaning. But if the word pops up again. And again. And again? Then ugg. My senses are finely tuned to stop and jump around in my brain, get my attention and pull me out of the story to say, There it is again!
The problem is that part of good story-telling is finding out how to not pull your readers out of the story. So, introducing an uncommon word? Yes please. Using it multiple times in a book? No thank you. (When I was explaining this to my mom she disagreed because the receptiveness helps her learn the word. So, to each her own.)
4. Having a crashing conclusion where everything happens at once. I mean, why not have the main characters nephew be born, her brother-in-law die and her boyfriend propose all within a few hours of each other? Because none of these events inspire very much emotion and that way we can gloss over each individual happening and numb the main character to everything so we don’t have to try and explore any of the emotions. Cha-ching. Perfect out for the author and perfect let-down for the reader.
5. When a delicate subject is handled harshly/not handled at all. Seriously. If a character dies (especially unexpectedly) give the other characters some time to grieve. And while there are some people who use humor to diffuse a tense/heart-wrenching situation, not everyone does that. So, to have all the family members sitting around the hospital waiting room telling jokes and laughing and never taking time to grieve (other than crying) isn’t realistic at all. There is more to grief than tears and jokes.
6. Having characters gloss over huge betrayals and offering insta-forgiveness and right away being like lets-go-back-to-the-way-it-was-before when the betrayer says he/she’s sorry. Especially if the betrayal resulted someone getting hurt or even killed.
Yes, I get the idea of forgiveness. I can even understand how an author would want his/her Christian character to forgive right away because God forgives us. But surely, surely there’s still room for internal struggle and doubt, even if it is brief.
Plus, realistically? If someone who you thought you knew well suddenly turns into someone else and after your world explodes comes limping back telling you that they really have changed and asking you to 100% believe them again? Humm… Common sense tells me that this relationship should be taken slowly because they’ve obviously fooled you once. Who’s to say they’re not doing it again?
My list could continue, but I’ve purged my snobby bookish brain enough for today, so I shall stop.
Of course I’d be delighted to hear some of the things that make you cringe when you read so I can learn from you and not make those mistakes myself… Ah, the joys of reading!