Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Calm down; I can't read what you're saying over your adjectives.

I shouldn't have to say it, but somehow I feel the need to state that when I read a book, I want the experience to be a good one. Now, I often find myself in the situation that requires me to read things that aren't particularly up to my standards. That's okay. The authors are in 10th grade and haven't quite mastered the ability of cohesive writing yet.

I can't even say that I've mastered that art yet. Hey, I'm honest. It's in my DNA. As I was saying, when I pick up a book or someone says, "Hey, you like books, read this one. You'll like it. People do stuff and it makes you laugh," I expect that book to at least entertain me long enough for me to finish it. Goodness knows I've had to struggle through some books, but I'm not here to discuss them.

I'm here to discuss some authors' use of language, and to be even more concise, their use of diction. I can hear your brains whirling trying to recall the exact definition that your 11th grade English teacher drilled into your adolescent brain all those years ago (or not depending on your age.)

Diction = word choice. Some people, like myself, use a fairly average vocabulary in their day to day lives with bursts of dollar words to keep other people on their toes. I've been told too many times in my short life that I need to speak in "simpler" terms because the people in my life can't understand me. And that's okay. I understand where they are coming from, and I've simplified for their benefit with only a few slip-ups now and then after reading an Austen novel.

But, when I'm reading a book, I follow a certain set of expectations. I like it to be well-written (duh), to use terms most people will understand, and to keep me entertained. It's not a list that should scare any authors.

I do not like to read novels that feel like a giant info-dump right into my brain, or that require me to slow down my reading pace in order to understand what's happening. I look on books like those as tragedies. Sadly, there have been a number of tragedies in recent days.

The tragic tome that sparked this little reflection was an excerpt from a book (I won't name it or the author) and the overwhelming use of adjectives and adverbs. It really threw me off when I first started reading it and that is something that isn't easily done. I've been reading on the college level since I was in grade school. At first, I merely tried to adjust my mind to the fact that I was getting deluged with tons of sensory details. Way too many. Then I realized that it wasn't just the diction and syntax that was off, it was the style as well.

I'm not normally one for nitpicky things when it comes to an author's delivery or writing style, but as I was reading, I couldn't help but be slightly nauseated by the blatant "telling" that the author was doing in the story. Sure, it's in first person, but when the reader is told every few paragraphs that the MC went through something big and that was why he or she was the way he or she was, it makes the entire plot tedious.

So very tedious. Honestly, I couldn't even get through the second chapter. There was so much more that I could have commented on, but...I don't have the energy. I just want to know this:

How the hell did that person get that book published in the first place?

I totally went and found out the answer to my own question before posting this blog entry. Self-publishing. *Le Sigh* For the love of all things written, people, please do not self-publish your books unless you are a very good editor or you have an agent (which means someone in the business actually thinks you can write and your book might be good) and you've exhausted all other options. Otherwise, just...don't do what that author did. I'm begging you. My brain folds are still trying to recover. I'm not making any guarantees, it's too early to tell, but I think I may be allergic to adverbs. Or bad books.
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  1. Totally valid point. If people are going to self-publish, they should definitely hire an editor.

  2. I second that motion. We're all in this business because we love to read and write, so it only stands to reason that we should want to do it RIGHT, right?


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