Confession: Earlier this morning, I hadn't a clue what to blog about. I'm feeling a bit under the weather, and I'm all grumpy and crabby and just... bleh. Drove to work with the music off (sacrilege!) and trudged in with the CP (we work in the same building), who of course asked, "Did you write--" I don't write on Fridays; it's my only day off; she knows this, so... "--oh, that's right!" she says. "You blogged this morning."
I told her the bad news; I didn't blog. She laughed--possibly through gritted teeth, I'm not certain. She's a tough cookie when it comes to me getting in my daily writing, but I've no reason to complain. I need a drill sergeant more times than I'd like to own up to. Anyways. I promised her I'd come up with something at my desk before the day was out.
So, at 4:30ish she calls and says, "Come up with something yet?" To which I respond with a long sigh and a mumbled, "No."
"Well," she says, "I've got a good one: What makes a bad book bad?"
Here's the scoop: Over the past week, she's been reading this full length novel by an author we both kinda sorta know. A giving props kind of thing, you know? Read your fellow authors; they'll read you. You come to my book signing; I'll come to yours--with friends. You scratch my back; I'll scratch... All right. You get the idea.
When I asked her what made the book... well... bad, she said, "Everything!" One, the author didn't do her research. (3 year old still sayin' 'pot-pot' and 'da-da', while Momma swears he's exceptionally bright? I don't think so.) But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The heroine was completely unlikable, wishy-washy, and had several moments of going in and out of character. Say what?? The person on whom we are supposed to lay our trust? Our hopes and dreams for the eventual and ultimate satisfaction of this story? Let's bear in mind this is a romance novel, folks. Heroine should be likable and somewhat easy for the reader to relate to. Writing Romance 101, right?
Well. Apparently this particular author didn't get the memo. So, we got to talking back and forth, the CP and I. Ping-ponging ideas of what makes a bad book bad. What, when we're reading, will most likely grab us first. Character? Plot? Dishonesty? Terrible dialogue? When I pick up a book at the store, I flip first to the middle, and read. If I like what I see, I go all the way back to the beginning and read at least the first 2-3 pages. Why? Because if the author is holding interest at mid-story, I'm willing to wager that interest will still be there by page 365 (or whatever... the end). Just the way I do it. Fortunately, this has helped me avoid quite a few of the crabbier apples.
However. It's still happened every now and again. And when it does, I put the book down. The CP? She goes in for the long haul, just to see how much worse it can get. Sometimes it helps her write. Gives her a little kick in the butt and a hearty, "Hey! I know I can do better than this!"
So, lemme ask you, gentle readers... What, to you, makes a bad book bad? At what point do you say, "Nope. No Way. No More." and promptly set the story to the side? Do you have any especially bad experiences which still haunt your writer's mentality from time to time?
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,