Skip to main content

Five Things I Hate About Badly Written Books



For years I taught literature to secondary students. Most were reluctant readers so I would teach the elements of a novel or the short story by comparing them to popular TV shows or movies. A sit-com is a three-act play compacted into thirty minutes, so there is a premise, a situation to be solved, and the ending or resolution. A movie is its longer cousin, so we’d discuss a popular movie and separated it into its three acts. Once we did that, we turned our focus on the short story or novel we were reading in class.
We all agreed a good story is a well-written story.
Nothing irks me more than to spend my hard-earned money or waste my precious time on a book that fails to keep its promise to the consumer. If it’s a mystery, I expect to be surprised.  If it’s a romance, I expect to see it develop.  If it’s an adventure, I expect to raft the rapids. But please do not promise me a date and then take me for a boring ride around the neighborhood.
I hate books that are badly written, badly plotted, or copy other books badly. I hate triteness and cliché. I often wonder how they got published and what Golden Goose they promised the people who gave those books high reviews?
I hate books that ride on the waves created by others and offer nothing new to the genre.  Instead of one more dystopian novel where a wholesome, spunky seventeen-year-old saves the world, I’m waiting for the one where a septuagenarian is chosen as the lithest in her yoga class and shows the world courage has no best-if-used-by date.
I hate books whose authors refused to take a creative writing course on editing or on how Show Not Tell manifests itself on paper.  A published book should not read like a C-minus, end-of-the-year, high school Creative Writing project.
Lastly, I hate books whose storytelling is so poor no one cares about the character once we are done with the book. One never forgets a well-developed character. Did Rhett Butler ever find a woman who loved him like he deserved? Did Hagrid stay on at Hogwarts? Did Skeeter live to old age?  What would they be doing now?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding My Muse

1)Because my muse has a wicked sense of humor and visits me at odd times and in inconvenient places, I have learned to record inspirations/ideas immediately before I forget them or they dissolve into nothing. I carry small notebooks, own a digital recorder, and have been known to text messages home. I will scribble on anything – old napkins I find in my glove compartment or old receipts. I even pop out of bed in the middle of the night to jot things on sticky pads. 2)Calendars are great places to find topics. I use important dates, seasons, and upcoming holidays to plan blog posts. I can also go back into my work calendar to refresh my memory about meetings, conferences, or books I have read that might be worth sharing with others.   3)I will sit with a good cup of coffee, pen and paper ready, and read the newspaper searching for topics, interesting characters, or modern trends.  News channels and other newsfeeds are just as good.   4)I love to read the TV and movie guides for titles and…

The Girl Who Eats Canned Spinach

I went to a Catholic elementary school run by strict Belgian nuns, and we could not leave the cafeteria until we ate everything served on our food tray. Once a week, they served warmed, canned spinach with our meal. The spinach tasted nothing like the way my grandmother made it, but I ate it. I gulped it down in three or four bites and it amazed my table mates. I told them we ate it at home so I was used to the taste. Now, my real problem began the day I ate the spinach off my friends’ trays so we could go play outside. As soon as the nun monitoring the cafeteria turned her back, my friends ate something off my tray I didn’t want, and I ate their serving of spinach. I only did it for two of my table mates, but the word spread. On the next Spinach Day, kids followed me to my table.I was suddenly very popular, and as soon as the nun marched off to the other end of the cafeteria, my friends and an army of others who only knew me as The Girl Who Eats Spinach, begged me to take their servin…

Facing My Fear of Guns

With the ownership of firearms comes responsibility, so I had asked HoneyBunch several times to teach me how to shoot and to help me get my License to Carry. I got my wish two weeks ago. HB and I signed up to take a LTC class. He bought me a gun, one similar to his, that would be the type we needed to show shooting proficiency, and for one whole week he tried to get me to become familiar with it, but I was hesitant. I read the booklet that came with the gun. I practiced loading and shooting it in what is called dry shooting (no bullets), and since the flyer said I would have to shoot thirty shots at different distances, I finally tried with it loaded. I was a nervous wreck. The class of twelve turned out to be close to forty people. We were of all ages, colors, and genders, and I was glad I wasn’t the only woman my age. The shooting test came first, and we were separated into two groups. Those who were proficient (or thought they were) would shoot first, and those who were novices wou…