Reading – and then writing, and wading through mud

Sometimes I read rubbish – but actually, it’s a bit naughty of me to think of any book I read as rubbish; the author has sat down and spent countless hours, days, weeks, years even, writing the story and no doubt tried their best, and it’s very arrogant of me to call their work rubbish. Maybe I should cal it ‘light’ reading, or ‘easy’ reading, the inconvenience food of the book shelf.

However, sometimes I do read books and think they have been so careless written, so full of errors of all sorts, and almost a disdain of the reader, that it makes me a little cross. I’m not talking about badly edited stories, that’s something different (and also very annoying) but words just tossed down on the page without any thought or care. Lazy writing, corny language, stereotypical/unrealistic/ unbelievable/ inconsistent characters; unbelievable plots which don’t make sense, are too complicated or too simplistic; stories which are plainly copied from somewhere else, plots lifted from other books,

As a writer I really feel that I learn a great deal from other novels I read and just recently I was reading a book by a favourite author and it just didn’t seem as good as the previous ones. I pondered on why it might be; the characters were realistic, the improbable plot kept me engaged because I was drawn in and engaged with the fantasy, there was interesting descriptions of places, there was plenty of action, unexpected twists… so why did I feel as if I was plodding through it?

As I was thinking this I was continuing to edit my latest novel, which I promise really will be published before too long! Why have I been struggling with it? Why has editing it taken me such a long time? I suddenly realised! Just as with the author I had read and been disappointed by, it had realistic, consistent characters, it had a plot, there were descriptions of location, plenty of twists… and yet, like the book I read, I was plodding through.

It suddenly occurred to me that in  both the book and my story, there were just too many words – I know this is a major fault in my initial drafts, that I over-write, but when I was actually working on the first draft I was conscious that there might not be enough in the plot as it was set over fourteen days in one country house with a very limited cast of characters, so I had  tried to flesh it out as I was writing it. Did the author of the book I read feel as if it was necessary to put in more detail because it was set in a past period and needed extra explanation and background? Maybe!

Having had this revelation I feel quite bucked up rather than despondent! I can see what the problem is, so I can fix it!! I hope 😀

My featured image shows mud, which is what I feel as if I’ve been wading through!


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