Last year, encouraged by someone who said that it was the best book she’d ever read, I picked up Christopher Paolini’s ‘Eragon’ and began to read. Normally, no matter what I think of a book, I plough on to the end. Not this one. I gave up half way through and I doubt very much that I will ever try it again. Maybe I’ve belonged to a critiquing group for too long, but I found myself tutting at adverbs and overwriting. I got annoyed at the lack of character development. I got bored with the plot. Yet other people love it…why?
Recently I posted the opening chapters of a couple of my books on YouWriteOn, tempted by the offer of a review from Random House if I was in the ‘Top 10’ at the end of a month. It has been an exercise in frustration. For every review that marked me high, I’ve had at least one that hated it. I did manage to reach No.11 with my children’s novel, but since then I’ve slipped slowly down the pile – one step forward, two steps back.
Obviously, readers’ tastes are extremely diverse. What one calls ‘great description’, another calls ‘slow pace’. What one calls ‘great characterization’, another calls ‘lack of plot’. Writing to please everyone is impossible. But if there are elements of my writing that everyone comments on, then it is time to take a long look at them and find how to improve.
I’m still working on it.