I read a book the other day that had me feeling disappointed, frustrated, angry, and quite sad all the way through. It was romantic suspense and, as such, slightly predictable, but the storyline was interesting enough that it kept me reading. However, several other factors made me want to delete this book so as not to contaminate the rest of my TBR list.
Still, I wanted to see how the story would end, so I hung in there.
Let me tell you about my sufferings.
- Almost immediately I noticed that the verb tense jumped around wildly. I assume that the author was trying to write in first person, present.
Past and present tenses in the same sentence are not unusual when used correctly. You might say, “Every day I see the ruins from the day the building collapsed.” But to say, “I see the ruins. I took a picture of them, and move on to investigate further,” simply does not work.
Do you see the problem there? If she wanted to stay in first person present POV, she could have said, “I see the ruins. I take a picture of them, and move on to investigate further.”
This mixing up of verb tenses went on throughout the whole book. At least she was consistent.
2. The quotation marks and punctuation were haphazard and meaningless. I had to admire the many ways the author explored every possible way to present dialogue incorrectly.
3. Add to that, the scarcity of periods and capital letters. So much easier to string two thoughts together with a comma. (Shudders).
4. Several times I noticed that paragraphs started with an “ing” word and phrase. (Turning towards the door, she picked up the telephone. Wiping the counter, she began to make dinner. Placing the cutlery on the table, she added a pair of candles. Opening the wine, she poured herself half a glass.) You can see how quickly that would get tiring. But then I had to laugh and groan out loud. She had fallen into the usual trap: “Walking down the hall to the bathroom, the fragrance of lemons grew stronger.” WHAT? Did the fragrance walk down the hall?
I began to read with a different attitude. I told myself, “Okay, just ignore the lack of punctuation in the right places. Just ignore the fact that there was a switch of speakers in the middle of a conversation with no indication to let us know who is speaking. Think of it as a puzzle; a challenge.”
Now I was humming right along, tuning out verb tenses, guessing who was speaking, and ignoring strings of non-sentences. Could anything else happen to make it worse?
Of course it could.
5. Throughout the book, always and frequently, lay/lie was misused (my pet peeve). I don’t think she ever got one right. I probably would have remembered.
So WHY did I finish this book? To be honest, I wanted to discard it on the first page, where the trouble started, but I was feeling generous that day. Then as I got into it, I thought, “What an interesting storyline.” But reading this book was torture.
This author has three books available on amazon, the first of which I have now read. I will never, ever read another of her books, no matter how good the storyline is.
On finishing the book, I felt that I had just read the first scribblings of an idea — whatever comes before a first draft — maybe something written quickly in order to get the words down, but completely unedited as yet.
This book would have benefited from more input from critiquing groups to sort out some character development issues, and then some intensive editing (if not basic grammar lessons for the author).
What is my point in griping about this unnamed novel?
The point is, I could have liked this book a lot, but I was so jarred by the many errors and poor writing in places (repeating the character’s name in back to back sentences) and overusing “ing” words (beginning many sentences with them), that it ruined the book for me.
If this author, with her good ideas for moving the story along, had only hired a copy-editor, she could have spared herself complete ruin as an author. Just because I am a copy-editor does not mean that I’m the only reader who will ever be horrified by this poor writing. But the sad thing is that the author could have made that novel something special with some advice from professionals who offer help in writing. A copy-editor, especially, could have covered all of the factors that dragged her book down.
Authors should not expect to publish a book after one draft of writing. I don’t know how many times this author rewrote her work, but my guess would be zero. The manuscript that hovered on hopeless, could have been something worth reading, if it had been reworked and fine-tuned. Sadly, a missed opportunity on the part of the author of a series I will now never finish reading.