My reading has fallen off. The last few weeks I’ve struggled to pick up the books I’ve been reading. In large part, like Law of Success by Napoleon Hill, it isn’t that the book is bad or uninteresting, it’s that it’s a slog to get through. It’s taking considerable effort.
Now, in this case, it’s largely my fault. Interspersed with these difficult books is supposed to be other books, easy books. While I read 5 books together during a period of time, at least 2 of those books are supposed to be easy. Guilty pleasures some would call them (really these are books that you enjoy, for whatever the reason, but feel as though you might get teased or criticized for), or short fiction, or fast-paced action novels; each are always good choices for me. When I begin to struggle through a section on one of the other books, I flip over and read something for pure fun. It helps me get through.
I have 7 books in my bag right now. (Follow me on Goodreads to see what I am reading and my progress!) Realistically 6 of these books are slogs. I am interested deeply in each of them, but they are tougher reads. Of those, 2 of them were supposed to be the fun-easy read, but I either underestimated the book or overestimated my own ability to choose such titles. That brings me to my peeves:
Too many characters
The Winter Road by Adrian Selby is a good book. I like it so far. But there is a major problem I have with it that keeps slowing me down: there are a fuck-ton of characters. There’s at least 30 or more that have been mentioned in the first 70 pages. I lost count; I can’t keep track. That’s how it felt to me. At times I’ve felt like I should write everything in a notebook. That’s not how I want to read fiction.
I have no problem with a lot of characters. My problem is that they are introduced in rapid-succession, each with a small influence on the narrator. I am trying to understand that most of these characters are likely nothing more than a name connected to short-term actions, but it’s hard when the plot gets thick and name mentions are plentiful. It interferes with remembering who I should be paying attention to. “Wait, who was that again?”
There are times it’s warranted; I cannot argue with that. Honestly though, it’s a peeve of mine. Have 1,000 characters, fine. Just take your time to develop the important ones and leave the bulk of them as nameless affecters. Otherwise, it is noise that diverts from plot or other characterization.
I’ll keep pushing through The Winter Road, because, like I said, I am enjoying it. It won’t be quick though.
This one is a far larger pet peeve. It’s almost as great a peeve as the Back-To-The-Future-plot-line. I have a lot of trouble with writers who do not separate dialogue out with quotation marks. I don’t fucking care the reason. I don’t give two flying fucks what they think they are trying to convey by doing it. (Can you tell this bothers me?) What I do say is that as a writer, once you’ve committed yourself to that style, your work is hence-forth a stylish piece of trash. It’s unreadable.
That is what I experienced with the novella Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. And this was a disappointment too, because the opening chapter in the story was incredible. There was no dialogue, so I had no clue it would take this wild and crappy turn.
I am 12 pages in and I. just. can’t. finish. any. more. In fact, there are paragraphs in that short amount of pages that three or four people all spoke. I think. Who the fuck knows if it was dialogue or thought or just some fucking nonsense because there are no quotation marks!
Grammar is not a strong-suit of mine, or rather at least I would never believe that it is. BUT, I do know enough to say that you should fucking separate dialogue with quotation marks!
OK… I am taking a deep breath. I am calm again.
This one I am throwing to the side. I am replacing it. In fact, I already have its replacement on hold request at the library.
In the meantime, I need to get through a few more of these slogs and then read some fun stuff for some time. Maybe I’ll finish the Molly Fyde series (The Bern Seer Saga) by Hugh Howey, which is a delightful science fiction story. If you would like to follow, join me on Goodreads!