…well, that’s a bad title, but it’s accurate.
I was indecisive between that title and “Still Learning…”
So, I finished another set of books recently. These were… Eh… not so good. It was the Aberrant trilogy by Ruth Silver.
Now before you get the idea in your head that this is a post with me bagging on her and saying the books are bad, they’re not. I mean… not really. I like the story, it’s why I read all three books. However, the story-telling is… well, I wouldn’t have held back had I been a beta reader. I’ll list some of the problems I had with the books, and ways you (and I) can hopefully avoid making them.
Now, if you’ve read as many “How-To” books on writing as I have… you’ll have come across this term.
It refers to when events in a book don’t flow organically from point A to B to C.
The way to fix this, is to make sure Point A CAUSES Point B, and so forth.
Flat, Two-Dimensional Characters
You know what these are. The characters who are just there. They don’t change, they don’t learn, they just DO. And they grind at you like no other when you’re reading. Honestly, I cared more about the six-year old child than I did for the two 18 year-old main characters.
Hell the Female Main Character almost felt like a Mary Sue. And the male a Gary Stu. Mary Sue’s are easy to write, because they’re basically a blank slate. The reader imagines THEMSELVES to be the Main Character. It’s good for fooling readers. Not so good when your readers are also writers.
Simple way to fix this. Give your characters dimensions. Short-term goals, long-term goals, goals not related to the Main Plot. Likes, dislikes, idiosyncrasies. Many things that Ruth Silver’s characters didn’t have.
Reading her writing was… almost painful, in certain areas. Let me see if I can find an example. Here’s a good one. It’s from Isaura, the third book in the trilogy. I’ll type the short passage, and then explain my issue(s) with it.
I tried to think. Tried to reason where Craynor would go. We’d destroyed his home. He wouldn’t be stupid enough to travel back to Genesis. I doubted he had a vehicle, unless he commandeered one in Torv. The nearest town to Torv was Haven. It had been destroyed months ago, and though I hadn’t been back there, I couldn’t fathom that anything remained standing. Maybe I should consider checking it out.
“How?” I shook my head in confusion. He wasn’t one of the representatives of Torv. He was my father.
“You’re asking for volunteers, right?”
Now, aside from the poor writing over all, which I’m not going to get into, before in this scene, there has been no indication that the MC is anything but alone. Then suddenly, her dad is there talking to her. Things like this happen continuously in the books. Also, another similar thing, often she’ll skip weeks or even months, without even a scene break. Just… new paragraph, seven months later. Dun-dun! Like it’s no big deal.
Oooh.. and exclamation points. Gah! Just don’t use them. She didn’t use them THAT much, but she even used them in the narrative. I mean, Jesus. Honestly, they’re not needed. Surrounding sentences/words and the scene itself should lend enough to the tone to know when something has an understood exclamation point.
I think that’s enough of my harping about what is (in my opinion) sub par writing. Like I said though, I enjoyed the books because of the story and the idea behind it, if the execution was somewhat lacking.
Also, do you have any idea what a huge kick in the pants it is when you read something and go “That’s just bad.” Because there’s that part of your mind (well, my mind anyway) that goes “Well how many books do you have published?