Hello blog world!
I’m back after… uh… I forgot how long it’s been.
Before I get into the main topic of this post, I’m happy to announce that I finished the second novel in my HECCTROSSIPY series! Woohoo! FINALLY! I can’t believe it took me almost two years to write one fricken book! Well, it turned out to be 158,313 words, so maybe that’s a good excuse for taking so long. Now The Will of the Dark Creator is over in England with my author/editor friend, Jo.
I decided to take a risk, and omit the appendix. The appendix was taking me forever to write, and there were about 20+ Velva Leenan facts I was writing about. Most of the facts were described in vivid detail, or they came with a historical story because I just have to make my fictitious planet sound more realistic. From now on, book 1 The Legend of the Land will be the only book in the series with an appendix. Any facts about the planet will be recycled into a blog series called Velva-pedia. Whenever the beautiful time may come when my series gains fanfare, and fans are curious about learning more about the alien details mentioned in each novel, they could look them up on my blog.
I’m glad I made this decision too because keeping the appendix would most likely tip the word count scale into the 200,000’s. Jo changed his pricing to so many hundreds of pounds per so many thousand words. Including the appendix would’ve made the editing process cost as much as a new car, or some good quality bling, or maybe even a blinged up new car. Oof, it would’ve taken me ten years to pay my parents back.
So anyway, enough about my writing for now. It’s time to talk about the stuff other writers do. Here are twelve things that authors do that I love or hate. If you’re an author reading this, and you feel that I’m making fun of your way of writing, never mind what my opinions are. Just keep doing what you do, and be proud of it. My opinions are just a fraction of a fraction of one percent among countless other opinions by our world’s billions of people. So here goes.
1. I HATE WHEN AUTHORS USE TOO MUCH SOPHISTICATED LANGUAGE
Using a fifty-cent word or an obscure word makes any kind of author sound smart, and adds a cool flare of sophistication to a fictional story—But only if such words are used sparingly. Maybe one or two lofty words per chapter. If there’s lofty words on every page, the author writes like a total douche. To me, it just screams out, “Oooo, look how highly intellectual I am! I only write for those who are at as high of a level of intellect as I!”
A couple of the worst books I’d read with this fault were an Encyclopedia of authors and a book I had gotten one Christmas called Heavens to Betsy, which was all about the origins of our quirky figures of speech. I had an Encyclopedia of rock’n roll which was an awesome read about bands, singers, and musicians through the decades. So I was stoked when a family friend gave me an Encyclopedia of all different authors through the centuries.
Then I started to read it, and couldn’t make it further than the first couple of pages of the “A” section. Ugh, the authors’ bios were ruined by lofty writing that was more flowery than a funeral parlor. I could hear the haughty, high society accent in my mind as I was struggling to absorb such an elaborate atrocity of the written English language.
My sister, Christa, had read Heavens to Betsy from front to back, and enjoyed it. For me, the writing was so loaded with words people normally don’t use, I had to look up words in the dictionary, like every other page. This took away from what the book was teaching, and it wore on my patience. So I DNFed it too.
2. I LOVE WHEN AUTHORS INCLUDE LOTS OF SENSORY DESCRIPTION IN THEIR STORIES
Absolutely love this. I love to know about what the air smells like, the looks and the sounds of nearby birds, how itchy and uncomfortable the character’s uniform feels, what the character is experiencing while enjoying a favorite food, and so on. Sure, these types of details can slow the action way down, and they often have no importance to the plot, but I love the way they make me feel like I’m really there in the story, experiencing everything the character is experiencing. Sensory details could make even the most outlandish characters who live in the most fantastical fantasy worlds feel real. When reading for escapism, it’s so fun and freeing to get sucked into a book where I feel like I’m living in someone else’s world.
3. I HATE WHEN AUTHORS USE TOO MANY METAPHORS AND SIMILES
You got to love those metaphors and similes. They add personality and pizzazz to writing. Even the overused cliche ones. Try writing a story without them, and it won’t be long before you realize that your story would make a book about the history of paper towel dispensers seem like a compelling read. However, like with lofty words, metaphors and similes work best when they’re used sparingly—in my opinion.
When every other tree or cloud or character’s facial feature or architectural detail of a building is described with a metaphor or a simile, it gets annoying. It makes me want to scream, “AAALLL RRRIIIGGGHHHTTT! I get it! You’re poetic, sheesh!
While reading, what goes on in a story plays out in my mind as a mental movie. The metaphoric images also come into view. Too many of them get in the way and become a distraction because my brain has to sift through the added image clutter to keep up with what’s going on in the story. .
And yeah, also like with the overuse of lofty words, the overuse of metaphors and similes makes an author sound like a douche.
4. I LOVE WHEN A LOCATION IS A BIG PART OF A STORY
It wasn’t written in my cards to live the globe trotting lifestyle I used to daydream about when I was young. So when authors include vivid details about a real location their story takes place in, it makes up for my disappointing amount of places I’ve been to.
I love details about streets and architecture and natural scenery, details about historical sites and tourist attractions, the food and culture and dialect of the location, and whatever other detail that makes me feel like I’m really there experiencing it all. I don’t have any particular location preferences. Whether the story takes place in a wealthy neighborhood in Paris, a poverty stricken village in Ecuador, a middle class Chicago suburb, or an indigenous village deep in an African jungle, I’m happy to get sucked into knowing about what it’s like to live there and be among the scenery and the culture. Including the places I’ve been to already. I never grew out of my inner three-year-old curiosity about the world, and want to explore it all. Books with life-like location details are like amazing teleportation devices that help satisfy my wanderlust.
5. I HATE TOO MANY ANALOGIES
I don’t mind analogies, but I could do without them. They kind of annoy me sometimes, because they make me feel dumb. Most of the ones I’d came across referred to sports figures, historical figures, mythology, and stuff that has to do with Shakespeare—things I never took much interest in. So I often don’t see the connection to how the analogy relates to what’s going on in the story unless it’s something obvious. Like comparing a character’s appearance and angry expression to some war leader from whatever historical battle.
If an author uses analogies generously—oh boy, what a headache the reading experience becomes. Like with too many metaphors and similes, too many analogies distract me away from the story, because my brain wants to try to wrap around each extra bit of info about mythological characters or quotes from famous movies or fifteenth century scholars and whatnot. This makes the story harder to follow, and I often have to pause my phone’s voiceover and read pages over again, which is also annoying.
And once again, there’s the douche factor. Too many analogies make it sound like the author is flaunting how knowledgeable they are. How highly intellectual. Big, sloshing, vinegar stank’n, fifty gallon douche!
6. I LOVE WHEN A STORY INCLUDES DETAILS ABOUT A CHARACTER’S JOB OR PASSIONATE HOBBIE
I love to learn. It’s that inner three-year-old. Since I lost my vision 20 years ago, that three-year-old became a bottomless pit of starvation for wishing to know what it’s like to participate in things I would never be able to experience completely as a blind person. So I love, love, love it when the characters in a book take me on the inside of what it’s like to work in a law firm, or be a fighter pilot or a bee keeper or a deep sea cave diver, and the list goes on. I especially love when their hobby or workplace details come with additional educational facts. Not only do I get to experience a lot of what I have to miss out on through the characters, it’s awesome to know what they know, which makes the experience more life-like and fulfilling.
7. I HATE OUT-OF-PLACE METAPHORS
What I mean by that is metaphors that don’t match with the mood of what’s going on in a scene, or the atmosphere of the surroundings. Beautifully poetic metaphors go good with romance. Quirky metaphors go good with quirky and comical characters. Gross metaphors enhance the dark mood of parts of a story that involve crime investigation.
It annoys me when metaphoric descriptions are randomly thrown in where they’re not necessary. For example, if there’s a heart warming Christmas family reunion scene in a story, and everybody is happy catching up with one another and delighting in the holiday festivities. Then the author randomly points out how a newly arriving cousin’s red hair plumes out like the fires of an apocalyptic nuclear holocaust. Or if characters are renovating an old house, and the black tile floors were speckled with plaster, resembling constellations in a clear winter sky. Ugh. When an author likes to do this frequently, it sounds like they’re stroking themselves over how artistically they see the world.
8. I LOVE WHEN A MAIN CHARACTER IS FLAWED
We all love those likable main characters. The nice ones who are smarter and act more mature than the characters around them. The kind of main characters you’re rooting for when the plot leads them into tough situations and emotionally trying dilemmas. All the while, they courageously get past it all, and come out with a role model positive attitude, setting an inspirational example for readers. If they are thin, healthy, and attractive too, that’s a plus.
Likable main characters are cool and all,, but for me, it’s refreshing when a book’s main character isn’t such a nice looking, inspirational hero. It makes them more like a real life imperfect human than just a fictional story character. I love when they aren’t thin or physically fit. Or if they have a medical problem, like a bummed knee, diabetes, eczema issues, or have disfiguring scars from surviving cancer. I love when they don’t mind dressing like a shmuck,. Or they drive a hand-me-down car, and live in a house that’s in desperate need of a makeover.
Most of all, I love when their personality and behavioral flaws come out. When they have their moments of being a selfish asshole, an adulterer, a manipulator, an idiot, or a petulant brat. Or when they make huge mistakes, like acting obnoxious at a wedding, hurting other character’s feelings, being politically self righteous at an important dinner party, taking out anger and frustration on others who had nothing to do with the reasons for it—and the list of negatives that make a main character unlikeable could go on for an infinity.
I don’t mind when a character complains about whatever tough situation they’re going through. Or if they feel sorry for themself and have a negative attitude. According to book reviews I’d read, readers don’t like it when a character behaves like this. It’s seen as being “too winy” Oh, whatever. Wining and complaining and feeling sorry for one’s self is normal human behavior. If you’ve always managed to keep up a positive attitude, no matter what life throws at you, you must be some other humanoid species who wasn’t really born on this planet.
The best thing about flawed main characters is when they learn and grow from their faults and mistakes throughout the storyline. They stop wining and find a way to pull through. They apologize and make amends with those they’d hurt or offended. They grow likable, in a more realistic sense, which I find to be more of an inspirational example than the role model character who’s likable from the beginning.
9. I HATE STORIES THAT ARE TOLD IN ABSTRACT FORM
Maybe I’m a cretin who doesn’t appreciate true art, or something, but I won’t bother giving any of my time to stories that aren’t told literally. I don’t want to have to try to see past the schizophrenic sounding word jumble, and find my own interpretation of what it all means. I don’t want to have to crack some enigmatic code.
That’s why I’m not all that nuts about poetry. I only like poems that have a clear message or tell a complete and comprehensible story. If I come across a poem that sounds something like this…
A lion, a demon, and a warlord
dancing and thrashing upon a red overcast of apathy
seas part and crumble beneath the heft of a trillion sorrows
Then there is I
Myself, my solitude
standing amidst a throbbing pool of bile green indignity
I’m like, hell nah, shoot me.
Some people don’t mind not fully understanding the meaning of a story or poem they read. If the writing and imagery sounds beautiful and deep, they could still enjoy it. My sister, Christa, is one of them. Go figure. Of course she has a more refined taste in literature than me, if she enjoyed that froo-froo Heaven’s to Betsy book.
When we were judges for the first Let’s Get Published short story contest a couple years ago, someone entered a poem. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was reading. Was it about a night of passionate love making? Was it about trying happy mushrooms for the first time? Was it about eating an egg McMuffin beneath the light of a dismal moon? So of course that entry got a “no” from me.
When I asked Christa if she had any idea what that poem was about, she couldn’t help me. She had no clue either, but she didn’t care because the language in it was so beautiful.
Ugh, no thanks. I’d rather understand what I read as I’m reading it.
10. I LOVE WHEN AN AUTHOR HAS THE GIFT OF MAKING THEIR CHARACTERS FREAKISHLY LIFE-LIKE
This is a brilliant talent that could make even a mediocre book unputdownable. I try hard to master this skill in my own series. Wooow! What a high it is when someone says that my book has strong characters.
I love when characters are so three dimensional that they feel like real people I know. And while seeing their world through their eyes, especially if the story is written in first person, I love it when I feel like I can be them. To understand what it’s like to have their personality type, their likes and dislikes, and how they think.
Characters that are this life-like are the ones I miss when a book or series ends. They’ll cross my mind, years after I read their books. If this happens at a time when I had too much sugar, I start imagining how that character is doing now, and what they’ve been up to lately.
11. I HATE WHEN AUTHORS LEAVE THINGS UP TO THE READER
My God, does this piss me off! Open endings, stories with semi complete details to what happened and why, stories with gaps that are meant for the reader to fill in. To me, this is a worse offense than stories that aren’t told literally. At least with the abstract story, the entire thing is a question. Understanding the gist of a story, but getting left with questions that I have to answer myself is a total jip. GRRRR, I hate getting teased like that.
I think I can understand why such an infuriating writing style is so popular. Perhaps the author doesn’t want to pigeonhole the story into being just their story with only their way of seeing things. They want it to have the freedom to be everybody else’s story too, and be seen in many perspectives. Sounds deep and trippy.
Sometimes I can tolerate when the semi complete details make it obvious enough what happened. Otherwise, the whole “leaving it up to the reader” thing annoys me to no end.
Worse than that, I came across writers who admitted to not even knowing what they’d written about. They just let the words take over, publish whatever nonsense comes to mind, and leave everything up to the reader to figure out.
Maybe I should piss out 50K words into my computer about camels and finger painting and Eskimo orgies, and call it a book. Then I’ll leave it up to the readers to figure out its meaning. I’ll call the book Bingo, but spell the word backwards for an extra flare of mystique. Ognib. Who knows. Readers might find deep spiritual meaning and life changing answers to resolving the world’s political conflict within my prose about all the hot and heavy, nose rubbing Eskimo action.
12. I’M A SUCKER FOR A SERIES
A sucker, a sap, a chump. Nothing allures me to blow money, like a book series. It doesn’t matter the genre. Romance, YA fantasy, sci-fi, a series about serial killer Christmas elves, I’m one for all. Especially if it’s one of those series where the storylines continue with each book. I don’t even have to like the first book that much to want to buy the next one. The first book could have a lame and predictable plot with cliche characters and cheezo dialogue. Just simply knowing that the story continues in following books triggers a reaction in my brain that screams, “MUST FINISH THE WHOLE STORY!” Then I end up going to Apple Books and buying as many books in the series as my monthly budget would allow. Then I’d binge read them.
When authors offer the first book in their series as a free download, I jump right into that trap with wholehearted book nerd enthusiasm. Then my money is theirs for the taking. A series where the books are cheap is impossible to resist.
I can’t even pass off a series of stand-alones, due to my fear of missing out. A lot of stand-alones aren’t exactly complete stand-alones. Their characters often interconnect. Heaven forbid if I just buy the fifth stand-alone, and the main character of that book briefly mentions something that happened to the main character in book 4. But I didn’t get the full scoop on what happened because I didn’t buy book 4. No! No! No!
It’s an addiction, and I LOVE when authors enable it.
To all the authors that do those things I love, keep up the good work! It’s a gift to the world, and you’ll keep me reading until my brain gets too old to function. And to all the authors that do the things I hate, keep up the good work! Your writing is also a gift to the world! Like I said at the beginning of this post, never mind what my opinions are. Just keep doing what you do and be proud of it.
Love you all! Post you soon!