Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Chapters!

I've decided that long, boring chapters make for bad reading. Nothing makes reading feel more like a chore than a bunch of long, descriptive chapters that go on FOREVER! I know I'm not the fastest reader in the world, but a chapter really shouldn't take me an hour to read. And it doesn't help when (like I said in this post) it's just a bunch of scenery descriptions without character involvement.

So I've decided that I am going to keep my chapters short and sweet. They'll all have a point to them that drives the characters closer to the climax, challenges them, and makes them grow. I like the idea of making characters fight, too. It makes for entertaining drama.

On a side note, one of the books I'm reading right now has a problem that I just noticed yesterday: none of the characters are consistent. They behave unpredictably almost all the time, and I can't tell if their actions are "in character" or not because every time they show up on the page, they behave in a different way.

In the books that I find intriguing, the characters may do something that surprises me, but when I look at their actions, I can see that it's consistent with how the author developed the character. Even if the character does something they normally wouldn't (like a pacifist killing someone) there are OBVIOUS circumstances that lead up to that sudden shift in personality. Yes, it comes as a shock when I read it, but it isn't contradictory to how I perceive the character.

Back to this book: each character behaves how the author seems to think they should in order to move the plot forward. As a result, their actions are unnatural and forced. The progression from point A to point B is overly contrived, and I don't believe that any of these people are human. It's like watching a five different actors trying to play the same person.

If I didn't think that I could learn something of my own writing through these books, I would just stop reading them. However, the plot itself is intriguing, and I want to see how it ends. Even though it feels like homework :P

7 comments:

  1. I read this fearing the whole time that you might be talking about my book. Surely not, I say, quaking in my office chair.

    (subtext, we want to know the title of this mysterious book of long and lackluster descriptions and predictably unpredictable characters)

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  2. Hey, Giles. Great post! I definitely try to keep my chapters short and as free as description as possible. My problem is that sometimes I focus in a little too deeply into the character's internal process or being WAYY too detailed in what they're doing - which kills momentum. Oh, I tagged you over on my blog. You're it!

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  3. Alright, Todd. I'll tell you. Keep in mind that I don't want to insult the writer because, unlike me, she's had six books (that I know of) published.

    It's Karen Miller's "The Innocent Mage". It just seemed like the book would be so much better. Unfortunately, I got into the fourth chapter before I realized how disappointing the overall book is.

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  4. OMG. I didn't even get past the 2nd chapter of that book. Even the map is terrible. I honestly sympathize.

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  5. I asked for them for my birthday, and I DO want to read them to see how the story ends. They're just so... bad. I don't get it.

    (No offense meant to Karen Miller, I'm sure you're a great person, and since you have other books out, I assume your work improved... but did the editors miss all of this when they signed your book deal?)

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  6. I'm sure a lot of people liked Innocent Mage, especially since she's written more in the series.

    Then again, even Terry Goodkind's work has fans. It's a crazy world.

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  7. I know what you mean! Nothing sucks me out of a story faster than realizing the characters are puppets on a string. I want characters that feel real, pushed into impossible situations ... instead of impossible situations with a bunch of bland characters reacting to it.

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