NO PLOT…NO PROBLEM?

I am reading a book that is driving me CRAZY!  It was free for Kindle and it sounded scary; my kind of book.  It got a few really scathing reviews, but most of them were decent reviews, so I decided to give it a try.  Besides, I try to ignore most reviews because who is to say what kind of book (or movie) I will like or not?   In my opinion, however, this book the most poorly written book I’ve ever read.  It has page after page after page of nothing but text…every character’s life story is told in huge chunks of narrative with no dialogue at all, even when two characters are supposed to be talking the author just tells you want they said.  Grrrr!  I, personally, am a huge fan of dialogue.  I love to see how every character reacts and talks as each event unfolds.  But, in this book, I’m being completely robbed of that sort of interaction between the characters.  So, why you ask, do I continue to read it and complain about it?  Because the plot is so dang good!

It’s a horror novel and the descriptions of the crime scenes and victims are graphic and very well done, and the building suspense of learning about the beast that is doing the killing has me totally engaged.  I don’t want to stop reading, yet at the same time, I am so frustrated I want to give it up.  So, how can a writer be so good at writing a plot and so horrible at writing dialogue and emotion?   I’ve always felt the plot is not all that hard once you have a basic story idea in your head, and I find that my plots usually end up taking their own twists and turns once I really get going with it.  But bringing the characters to life with depth and dialogue, which is unique to each one is an entirely different issue.  I think of my characters as my babies since I create them, first as nothing more than a vague image with a possible name.  Then, I flesh them out and breathe life into them with their own individual appearance and traits.  They become real to me because I’m inside their heads at all times.  I want to know everything about them; what they were like from birth through death even though I am only writing about one small period in their lifetime.

Another thing bothering me in this book is the point of view issue (POV).  This writer switches point of view from one paragraph to the next.  Now, years ago, when I first started writing in the late 1980’s (ah, the 80’s were the best) I was also guilty of switching POV at the drop of a pin.  But, this is a terrible crime in the literature world now, and it was something I worked very hard on correcting so that I could keep up with the new literary guidelines.  Now, reading a book (even my very old ones) that does not follow this rule is so distracting I can barely get through it.

I checked to see who the publisher of this book is that I hate to love and it’s self-published.  Since all of my past books have been published through a traditional publishing house, I’ve always had to adhere to all of the strict guidelines of my editor and publisher.  However, this is not to say there have never been any errors in my books, because unfortunately there has been.  Even writers and editors make mistakes.  I know, hard to believe. LOL!  But, with self-publishing, do all the ‘proper’ rules and guidelines go by the wayside?

Please, self-publishers, don’t send me hate mail, because there are amazing self-published books and very talented self-published authors out there.  I know the majority of self-published writers don’t publish their work until they have made sure all the grammatical errors are corrected and the sentence structure is as perfect as possible.  They fret as much as any of us about point of view and character development and believable dialogue.  But, what about the ones who don’t take the time to have their manuscripts reviewed by a professional copy editor and are not qualified proof readers themselves?   Well, obviously they can just publish their books and hope their readers won’t care.  I’m sorry, but I care.  When I buy a book at a bookstore or for my Kindle I know I’m getting a book I might not like once I start reading it.  That’s a chance I’m willing to take and its okay.   What’s not okay is getting a book by an author who thought I would be okay with pages full of grammar mistakes, confusing sentence structure, no character development and no dialogue.  So what’s a reader to do?  I suppose we just keep taking chances, just like we always have when we buy or download a book to read.  Like everything in life…you win some and you lose some.

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