I am reading a novel which takes place right before the Civil War. The history of our country has always interested me, and I actually met the author.
I won’t name the book or author as it is not my intention to hurt anyone. If I had not met the author, I would have stopped reading after the second chapter.
I will try to keep in mind these items when I work on my own books. These are a few things I did not like about the book:
- Switching back and forth between the character’s given name and nickname. For example, starting the paragraph talking about Elizabeth, then two sentences later talking about Bethie. Instead, In the beginning of the book, establish that her name is Elizabeth, then refer to her as Bethie. Don’t keep switching back and forth.
- Too much detail. Do I really need to know the color and pattern of every teacup that is used throughout the story?
- Lack of tension. The characters’ problem becomes apparent in the beginning of the book. Then we are sidetracked with a few bumps along the way, but not a lot of tension going on. I almost forgot what the original problem was.
- Switching back and forth between formal English and slang. This is my problem with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I understand it was ground breaking and back in its day opened peoples eyes to the horrors of slavery. But as a reader, using ten-cent words with slang conversation made it difficult to keep my interest.
- Too many adjectives. “Really fabulous great special dinner” is too much.
- Pacing is too slow. Pages of description of grass and trees was great in Dicken’s time before television was invented, but we want to get to the point.
I will keep an eye on my own writing and try not to fall into these traps.