Thursday, 22 May 2008

One man's meat...

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.


Susan Sandmore said...

Very brave of you to enter the competition. I don't think I can take it. Yep, it's hard (impossible) to please all and disheartening to hear from those who just don't connect with your particular style.

Angela said...

I remember you mentioning something on CC about the YWO thing, I think. Ugh, people. If you find two that say the same thing about your work, it's a miracle. The only exception to that is the one editor who says, "I'll buy it!"

Also, congrats to your kiddo on the merit award. It's great that there are award for this, because we shouldn't just reward the big flashy things in life, but the small sucesses too. I'm glad someone noticed your daughter working so hard on this!

(I meant to comment on it before but every time I tried my computer would freeze, so I gave up.)
Seeing as I managed to coax the comment window open on this post, I'll sneak in my other congrats comment here rather than tempt the blogging Fates.

Luc2 said...

Hmm, I read Eragon before I joined the Critique Circle, and I read it through the end. It wasn't great, but I was pretty awed by the result for such a young writer.

Recently I read Eldest after I've become a critical and cynical critiquer, and it was much harder to stomach. I think writing and critiquing make you lose your naive innocence as a reader, somehow. It's harder to really enjoy a book, and that's a pity.

Kate said...

At the same time, though, Luc, critting has helped me to learn what does and doesn't work for me, so that I can try to tighten my own work. If I read a book and can't find much wrong with it, I know what to try to emulate ('try'!)

Angela - I dream of those three words 'I'll buy it'.
Thanks for your comments on the earlier blog. It's funny how things play up sometimes.