Saturday, April 26, 2014

Another Book Hits the Wall

Have you settled into your reading chair with great expectations only to have them dashed by the second or third chapter? Don't you want to throw that book against something hard and make a big, ugly noise? When the first five or so pages breeze by in character suspense and dialogue and I'm anticipating the next development, nothing makes me set a book down faster than suddenly running into pages and pages of background fill-in, or where suddenly the main character is thrust into a long flashback to bring the reader up to where the story started. I want to start at the beginning and progress, not digress.

I also don't like tedious and unnecessary detail that slows reading but know other readers who do like all that description. I just prefer mine in small doses. Another pet peeve is running into some inane dialogue after the characters got off to a good beginning or sections where the dialogue tells about another character's personality or situation in a most unrealistic manner. When characters' dialect speech is constantly spelled in phonetics can make me unhappy while reading, too, although I've also read this done by using the cadence of correctly spelled words to carry this out and thought it very compelling.

As a teen when I ran out of Georgette Heyer novels, I turned to Barbara Cartland. I liked her novels well enough, but looking back… I…wonder…why. Because… that… is… how… the… virginal… heroine… spoke to the most refined, rich, and powerful hero. Even then, I found the dialogue bizarre. Now I use ellipses in writing dialogue, but not so often that they draw attention to the story's mechanics, or at least I sure hope I don't. At the same time, I liked Emily Loring too, but as the 60s drew on, I found some of her dialogue racists and very much in the category of a woman who must find a man to take care of her. Of course, her books had been written many years before the civil rights movement, so I guess likes and dislikes can change as the reader and history change.

Today I read most genres except horror and like almost everything with convoluted situations that develop from twisting cause and effect plots, and with multifaceted characters who the author slowly reveals. I enjoy characters who are deceivers with good hearts, manipulators working to solve impending calamities, stories with moral messages the reader needs to discover, and villains who are only too human.

I have a horrible secret to disclose. To prevent wasting my money, when buying a print book I read the first two pages, and then skip to the end and read the last two pages. I have done this since I started reading and ran into my first, 'I don't like that book' occasion. One of my friends asks how can I do that, doesn't it ruins all the drama? Not so long ago I found out one of my sisters does the same thing. We did not know we both did it, so perhaps it's a genetic thing. Anyhow, if I like the ending, I usually like the book, but I have to say it is not a foolproof method to prevent buying a book I don't enjoy.

So there you have it. If you hear a book hit the wall in this house, you know what caused it. Check out the authors below to see their story-enders.

Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines
Geeta Kakade
Ginger Simpson
Margaret Fieland
Fiona McGier
Diane Bator
Anne Stenhouse
Heidi M. Thomas
Marci Baun


  1. Hi Rhobin, One of my early mentors never wrote a flashback and would be quite severe if anything I let her see had same. I do like the teasing out of information, but am quite guilty of setting everything down and having to go back and take it all out. Editing is what it's all about and sometimes new writers are too quick to rush into print. Anne Stenhouse

  2. You just brought back great memorie! My mom would trade grocery bags full of romance books with her sisters and SILs...there were 10 of them all together. I remember her tossing books across the room yelling at the author that she read that whole damn book, fell in love with the hero, and she got NO PAY-OFF? No sex? She'd never read THAT author again! That's why I write erotic romance. Even though Mom is gone, I'm writing to make her happy!

    But I remember her once laughing as she read and I asked her what was so funny. It was a Barbara Cartland book (I'd forgotten who it was-thanks!) and she read using her tongue to make "clicking" noises for the ellipses. It was hilarious! Then she tossed that book across the room and checked off another author she was done with.

  3. Totally agree with you, but one thing that bothers me is "internal thoughts." If authors don't know how to use them, the sudden change in tense draws me out of the story and pisses me off. *lol* Also hate redundancy and repetitive words. Shows a lazy author.

  4. My very first book has a flashback. That is the last time I wrote it, but the book's still for sale. If this is how you feel about them (I do, too), don't read it. LOL

    I never could get into reading either Georgette Heyer or Barbara Courtland. Courtland's heroine had more hair than wit. Even as a teen, I couldn't stomach it. Of course, the 80s were quite a bit different than the 60s. LOL

    What I love about these round robin blogs is how all of us agree, but all of us have different ways of presenting our opinions and the points I've forgotten to include are often in the other posts. Thank you for organizing this. :)


  5. I don't like big "Info Dumps" either. Piece it out, that adds to the suspense! And, Robin, I read a Georgette Heyer novel recently, which I enjoyed, but there were all those "bugaboos" that we've learned not to do these days! Especially dialogue tags like, "blah, blah, blah," he ejaculated! Yikes!
    Thanks for starting this round robin and inviting me!

  6. Good post. You read the ending? I know of a few people who do that, but I want a well-written suspense with twists and turns so I don't know the end. If I figure out who the villain is by the third chapter I know I'm not going to enjoy the rest of the book.

  7. Rhobin, enjoyed your post. I never would have guessed you always read the final pages of a novel before purchasing. A novel must be exceptionally horrid before I would even consider such a possibility ;-).

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  9. Love your unique approach to buying a book. I used to do that with mysteries all the time and couldn't explain why. I had to read till the murder was committed then go to the end and find out 'whodunit' then read the whole story to see if the clues and red herring were in order and I reached the same conclusions as the writer.
    No explanation for the convolutions in my brain.

    Maybe that's why I enjoy writing mysteries now...