You'll laugh from now on when you hear, "Not my fault."
Janet again does summersaults with the English language in a way a guy named Willy Shakespeare could never have dreamed. Smart, sarcastic, sharp, nasty enough to engage without insulting, an all around excellent read.
I'm amazed at the number of "comma as" I'm finding in my manuscript. I made a remark on a piece I critiqued yesterday, noting AS is not a conjunction. Low and behold, independent clauses out the kazoo starting with "as" leapt out of my manuscript.
Funny how easy it is to find an error in your work, after you've found it in another's.
Are you guilty of abusing AS? It's like Then, Just and Really.
Description must work for its place. It can't be simply ornamental. It usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action.
I'm rewriting a novel I completed several years ago. One of my decisions was to shift it into first person. An observation from that effort: You know the complaint of the repetition of the pronoun I required in first. Get over it. You would not realize how many he-she pronouns we use in third person, until you go through a tense transition. Just as a reader ignores "said," I've found we ignore the number of pronouns, too.
This was the sexiest Stephanie Plum I've read yet—but keep in mind I'm a recent convert. I've only read six in the series. I look forward to reading the next fourteen. (Dina, don't listen) I love Janet Evanovich. ELEVEN was outstanding. The characters [cliché alert] leap from the page. I grinned stupidly through the whole read. I'm so jealous of Janet's writing I could…I could…go to the library and check out the rest of her work. I love Janet revved up the sexy meter. Go girl.
Writing students can be great at producing a single page of well-crafted prose; what they sometimes lack is the ability to take the reader on a journey, with all the changes of terrain, speed and mood that a long journey involves.
Write Every Day!
I came across author notes the other day in my on-line critique group that startled me. The author didn't want any feedback on commas. He didn't care about the rules. He wanted his prose to flow more smoothly. I think I shivered.
Started to critique his piece anyway, but stopped. I admit. I'm self-centered. One of the reasons I critique is to get critiques back. But really. How could I take anything he suggested seriously? And if he doesn't want anyone pointing out the most basic gramatical error—I decided my time would be wasted.
I refuse to rave about this novel, because it has flaws, and I don't want you walking away from it frustrated that it didn't measure up to your expectations. I will explain why it didn't get a fifth star, so you can read it with peace of mind that your psyche won't be crushed with disappointment.
Number one. The character you will care the most about is in a fleeting, five or six scenes. The plot relies on stereotypes that the excellent writing doesn't require. I believe Ms. Gruen read one of Donald Maass' books and took to heart the theory you must place your protagonist in a bad situation, make it worse, then really cream him. Also, you know the cliche, "your character must grow?" Ms. Gruen took that too far as well, by making the human protagonist a spineless doofus, who miraculously walks into the heart of the femme fatale.
Despite the flaws, you will fall in love with the cantankerous protagonist as he tells his story, which occurred seventy years earlier. You will empathize with him, and clearly visualize every setting and character. Read Water for Elephants. It is the first book I've stayed up to one AM to read in a very long time.
Nothing drives me nuttier than a formulaic platitude. Like this one. "A story must have a compelling reason to be told."
What exactly does that mean?
I've read many books I thought absolutely sucked, that someone else had to think were wonderful, to get published. Tastes are not universal. They do not follow a formula.
I formerly taught project management. I followed the curriculum, and groaned hourly. The contention that if you follow a formula, everything will work peachy makes my skin squirm. I've never met two people alike. Project management is about getting PEOPLE to do what they don't necessarily want to do, or have the resources to do. You have to find what motivates the individual.
Does a piece have a compellingcharacter(s)?
Does it have an interestingsetting?
Does it have a believable (for genre) and entertainingstory?
Those are subjective questions that make sense, when you're dealing with intellectual and emotional tastes.
Don't give me a platitude. It rings hollow. And ticks me off.
I saw Cynthia's blog and heard myself saying amen. I do a lot of critiquing, and see five, even eight-thousand word chapters. If you can't close a scene in under two-thousand words, either your action or dialogue is bloated. I'm surprised all these how-to books (Lukeman, Maas, et al) don't warn about the long-chapter phenomenon. Long chapters gag this reader.