Balance Out Your Writing

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I just finished writing a review for an author who published her first book. I was far from thrilled with it. You don’t need to know the name of the book or the name of the author. Chances are you’ve come across a book where the writing is uneven. In this book she described every scene in almost painful detail, but there was precious little dialog. In my review, which she called “strangely detailed”, I tried to get across the idea that a book, short story, etc. is like a layer cake. One layer is called description while others are called setting, pace, dialog,  etc.  A good book will have equal portions of all these components.

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A good story will enthrall you. You will want to turn the page to see what happens to the main character. You’ll become emotionally invested in the story and you’ll care about what happens to the main character. Chapter 1 was great. It took me back to the time when I was a boy at my parents cottage. I loved it. However, Chapter 2 was a complete change in direction. It was cold, dark and foreboding. There was nothing, absolutely nothing that made any connection to chapter 1. A woman was on a train at night and there seemed to be a number of persons who wished her ill. All that chapter did was remind me of how much I dislike train travel in Canada. Chapter 1 had only had thirteen words of dialog while it had hundreds of words of description . Chapter 2 had considerably more dialog, however, the sentences were rather short bordering on microscopic such as “I don’t know”. But again it was heavily outweighed by the the level of description of the train car, the conductor, guns, and shadows. This could have been a wonderful opportunity to write what this character was thinking. But the opportunity was squandered. The second chapter could have provided a link of some kind to the first chapter. It didn’t. I told the author I got the feeling chapter 1 and chapter 2 could have come from two different books. I suspect that comment wasn’t  terribly well received, but the author asked for my thoughts. It wasn’t until chapter 9 that the woman on the train and the main character met up. It was at this point I gave up on this book. I wanted to complete it, and I tried three separate times to read this book. If some of the writing doesn’t move the story along edit it out. Think of the reader. If what you’ve written isn’t essential to the story, and doesn’t move it along, edit it out. Your readers will thank you. I know one personally, me.

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