Editing Tip Tuesday

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Just get on with it.

I’m reading a book now for pleasure. (Yes, I still do that in addition to all the other stuff I read for work.) I won’t mention the title or the author, but I will tell you it’s categorized as a thriller.

Right up front we know one of the 4 POV characters has a secret. (Let me digress for a second and say I don’t love the fact the book has 4 POV characters. Who am I suppose to get attached to?) The author mentions repeatedly this character, a girl – age seventeen, has a secret, but the author doesn’t tell us what it is.

She wants us to wonder and keep turning the pages. Honestly, the fact that she keeps mentioning this big secret, but won’t give us a hint (though it’s in photo form now so we know someone else is going to get their hands on it) just annoys me. Say it once. Character Number One has a secret. Then be on with it. Author doesn’t have to keep hinting. It’s like kids on a play ground, “I have a secret and I’m not telling you.” At which point I want to shut the book.

Yes, you have to create suspense if the secret is somehow connected to the arc of the story. But I like books that hit the ground running and don’t slow down. This book also gets bogged down in the beginning with a lot of setting. It’s a very nice setting and one I might even want to visit some day, but I’d rather learn about the secret or what led up to this horrible thing hanging over Character Number One’s head. Because once she’s faced with the fact her secret is out she’s going to be forced to make a decision. One hopefully, she doesn’t like. Now we have conflict! And the race is on.

Since I can’t turn off my editor brain while I read, I often say out loud, “Get on with it.” Give me something new. And I don’t think having multiple POV characters is the answer to something new. I see what the Author is trying to do. Each character has a secret and I guess we’re supposed to keep turning the pages until someone’s secret blows up.

Honestly, I don’t care enough. I want action. I want characters shoved into making choices between two evils. I want to see how they respond under pressure.

I want you to get on with it.

Any questions?




6 thoughts on “Editing Tip Tuesday

  1. I’m reading a book now just like that. Holy cow, I’m 3 weeks into it and I don’t think I’ve read 200 pages. It’s killing me. Just get on with it! But I hate giving up on a book.

    1. It would be funny if it was the same book! I used to stick with a book to the bitter end. Somewhere along the way I decided there are too many fantastic books, and my to be read pile is huge, that I can’t stay with a book I don’t like. Lately, I’ve given up on so many books I’m starting to blend all the stories together. Have a new one from Stephen King, Final Watch. Can’t wait to start that one. Might have to ditch my slow thriller for Mr. King. Ditch your book, Jenn. I give you permission!

  2. I don’t like giving up on a book, but I’ve learned to do so too. I’ve also lost patience with dragged-out love scenes, too.

    I’m currently reading a paranormal. Not particularly big on shape shifting, energy, clans, etc. It’s pretty well written and I admire and applaud the authors creativity.

    But: can we lighten up on slamming me with tagging internal dialogue? I can figure it out! And the overuse of similes and analogies wants to make me scream, “Enough already! Just tell the story!”

    1. Someone is tagging internal dialogue? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Though I will say, and I have said before, I don’t like tags that are anything other than she said, he said. Leave out replied, intoned, stammered. The author can show all of that in the response. Otherwise the dialogue isn’t working for you.

      1. I’m currently reading a novel by someone we both know personally. I can’t take one more “s/he thought or wondered.”

        I’m a BIG believer that subtext will take the reader far. (When in doubt, leave it out. That’s my motto, anyway.)

        Another beef I have is how LONG some of this author’s sentences go. And via a big-five pub house too.

        Just sayin’ and thanks for letting me vent! 🙂

  3. I think it’s worse to read a book by someone I know personally when I don’t like it. And that has happened a few times to me. As you know, writing is subjective so that big house might be fine with long sentences and another house would not.

    And with downsizing in traditional publishing I wouldn’t be surprised if more things are overlooked in the effort to get work out there. I’m not suggesting sub-par employees, just a quicker time schedule which might allow for leniency that wasn’t there in a different time. Just a thought.

    Feel free to vent here any time. All your comments are welcome!

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