Well, Posse! It’s time to Get. Off. My. Lawn.
I am cranky. Siddown, because I’mo holla! Not too loudly – this is a mild screed against … omgosh, where to start? Pretty much piss-poor Everything Writing. And if you holla along with me, with your own particular GOML! screed (on any subject, the more, the merrier) TGirl will enter you in a draw for some soothing samples. Let’s get started, shall we?
- Quality writing. I remember, back when Word was nascent, a writer said it (Word) would signal the downfall of quality writing, with everyone who ‘had a book in them’ feeling free to Let That Book Out. Even though I recognized that statement for the elitism it was I also recognized the truth therein. Just because you have A Book in you doesn’t mean you should let it out. Heck, I have an assassin in me and I certainly am NOT going to let her out.
The rise in e-publishing has resulted in an explosion of execrable, lazy-assed writing and even worse editing…….
::record scratch::…. screech! Interrupting this screed to bang on about James Taylor for a tic (loved him in the 70s, then he fell off my radar) – I found the glorious ‘Hourglass’ at the Thrift (.25cents, dont’chaknow – got ‘October Road’, as well. Floyd is Good!)… it’s on right now and… you know… this CD is that dark, fragileAF college love you haven’t seen in 40 years. You run into him on a Summer-hot NYC sidewalk and, in a nanosecond, are blown back to your sophomore year with your whole, untried life still ahead of you… yet, even in that hurtle, you remain in the present, with the 40 years, marriage(s), the kids, the careers, Life. And his Life, 40 years as well right there, intertwined with yours, yet solely his. It’s enough to break your heart while sending you soaring, yet keeping your grounded. JT’s evolved use of a heftier rhythm section ( Edgar Meyer’s rolling bass takin’ us to CHURCH on ‘Up from Your Life’, BIG music (Stevie Wonder! Michael Brecker!…. YO-YO MA! omg) and even deeper Philly Sound. He’s built that sound into the (signature Taylor) repeat chorus and it is Grown-Assed Man, with a heavier orchestration along with the antiphonal folk harmonies and chord changes he’s been sculpting through the decades. Still the same, but different, because Life- that’s what you feel in that chance encounter on the sidewalk, that brief, brilliant, melancholy look back, even as you see the 40 years – and are okay with it. You chat, hug and happily go your own ways to your discrete futures. All that in a CD! Thanks, James. I’ll love you forever. Glad you lived through your Life and came out strong. Keep coming out strong, baby.
Okay! back to the bitchin’!! My love for cozy mysteries and that recent plunge into Romance means the algorithms are now FIERCE! I am bombarded by free ebooks, KUnlims (which are NOT free, of course 😉 Bezos didn’t break 4 commas by giving shit away), ‘Suggestions from Skynet’, etc, etc …. I skittered through a few genres(cozy mysteries/romance/lite fiction) and here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
a. With rare exception, First Person Narrative is a minefield of awful. It’s like being nattered at, constantly, by an irritating coworker. It’s a difficult undertaking and I think it shows just how unequal to the challenge most of these new writers are, that they are so cavalier in their attempt, which lands on my cranky reader’s ear like a swarm of hornets. Wow. I’m bitchy today.
And… what is it with the Special Forces?? The genres are lousy with ’em (and you cannot be Special Forces unless you have a shoulder/sleeve tat, just sayin’)! I’m waiting for a book about a Special Forces gardener (if he’s out there, I don’t wanna know. Okay, I do.). Omg. Y’all. The sheer number of Rangers, Airbornes, SEALs, Marines (ooh-rah!) – at this point every woman (and a few men) in the US should have one. Aren’t plumbers sexy? Few of us need to know how to field strip a rifle. Everybody needs a plumber (but! If you can send me a Special Forces-turned-plumber? I’ll take that butt-crack, any day! Oooh-rah). A propos of FPN/Special Forces Alpha Males in Romance, there is always some variation on this line: ‘My name is (Colton/Trey/Brick/Luke). After (fill in combat scenario) I swore never to see her again but I can’t stay away because….. she. is. in. DANGER’ .When I see that in the preview* I know to bounce like there’s a cobra on the keyboard. Why can’t they ever say ‘ My name is Colton. After (fill in combat scenario) I swore never to see her again but MAYEN! Her roof is a disaster! I’mo go get Trey, Brick and Luke and get over there and re-roof that thing!’ I’d read THAT! Don’t forget Travis, with that sexy TX drawl and that slap-hammer to get those shingles down tiiiight. (okay, I’m done 😉
* I know I drag Bezos’ Place sometimes but I have to say I’m super-grateful for those previews. The awful books always have one like those movie previews that, in essence, show the entire film, saving you $12. The worse the book, the longer the preview. Lots of single-line declarations. Nearly always godawful FPN.
Nearly always boringAF and gaggingly bad. Great covers with serious male objectifying, though. And I am there for that. Sigh. If only. As with SForces, if there were that many washboard abs in the world ..blessed Floyd. If only.
Maybe I need to take a sedative.
b. Series. Omg.. series. In the deftest hands, in any genre, it’s a challenge. Good-to-marginally-good writers? They are exhausted and stumbling into the weeds, usually after Book 2. Bad writers?? It’s like napalm. I wish writers could take their time (not always possible, I know. Those must be devilish contracts.). You really can tell the difference, even in the best writers, when they are hitting a deadline rather than crafting a story. Even my vaunted Thomas Perry, who wrote the shimmeringly perfect ‘Metzger’s Dog’ and ‘Island’, got bogged down late in the Jane Whitefield series and I barely survived it (and his later books, with pages and pages of Thomas Guide-like directions.. I still
think hope he was having it on, a sly middle finger to his publishers. Or maybe he was just tired.). I thank Floyd errryDAY that Louise Penny takes her time.
Howevah! That brings us to…
c. Bingeing. This is on me. Not the writer’s fault if they’ve taken their time but I am super late to the party, so ‘ooops’ when I binge 3 in a row and am then big mad at them for having a particular writing style. When you know the next line before you even read it, you’re firmly in Binge Land. Get. Out. It’ll still be there in a few months, promise.
d. Hobbies: Any series that rely heavily on whatever the writer’s catnip is, be it shoes/baking/knitting/drinking/whatever. I’m fine with setting a stage but too many of those stages are crammed, like an episode of Hoarders, with a squickton of whatever personal kink the writer is flogging. Again, thanks, Jeff, for the advance warning!
Speaking of kink: no. we won’t. Lawd. Nothing shows a writer’s lack of skill like bad smut. Honey, there’s stuff out there that is so bad, it’s actually wonderful in its awfulness. Who’dathunkit!? Only takes a few pages and I’m laughing so hard I am wheezing. And no, I’m not going to link you to any of it. We may not be totally PG on the Posse but I’m not going there – I’m running short of brain bleach as it is.
PLEASE! Jayzus PLEASE! PEOPLE! Utilize a competent copyeditor and proofreader. Your perceived ‘creative genius’, untrammeled, is horrifying. I’m all for freedom of expression as long as it doesn’t involve me having to parse that goober paragraph you just unleashed on my unsuspecting self. Pronouns hanging out sans antecedents, grammatical errors (and if you confuse reflexive pronouns with personals I will hunt you down like a rabid dog). Establishing sentences completely absent (where the hell ARE you? One minute you’re in a NYC apartment, the next you are trying to climb out of a pit in the Mojave. Did I miss something? How did you get there? Did the Hulk show up and throw you out of a window? Was he mad at you? What the hell is going on?).
Here’s the deal. That ‘inspiration/perspiration’ axiom? It’s true. You have (or think you have) a skill? HONE IT. Drafts. Edits. More edits. Some critical input. Please, I’m begging you.
My shriek here is the inelegant equivalent of Robert Hughes’s skewering of Julian Schnabel in ‘Nothing but Critical’ that had me guffawing on the subway – I mean GUFFAWING! with folks edging away because nothing says INSANE like a well dressed woman foaming at the mouth, tears leaking out, laughing.
Okay. I’m done. That felt GOOD! What’s your story? TGirl wants to know!
Oooh! And I didn’t forget! Winner of the Liz Zorn samples from ‘All About that Base’:
gmail your evilauntieanita, remind me what you won. I’ve been astonishingly good about Getting Stuff Out in timely fashion!