Tangle Me, Please

Sometimes life just stinks. There’s no other way to put it. It is in-your-face, horrible and heart wrenching. You may be asking why I am telling you what you already know. Go ahead, admit that you think I’m a rambler and let’s move on. I have a point to make here and you’re holding up my thought process…strange as it is. My point is that because life tends to knock us on our proverbial butts, writing should reflect that. It’s the “Real” factor.

It irritates me to no end when I spend money on a book and chunk it after a few pages because the writer went all-out CBA hokey on me. I think to myself…How can anyone read this and think it could ever, in a million years, happen in life? Yes, I know I’m talking about fiction but that needs to be based on plausibility of natural human reaction. And if you have created another world, you better give me a solid grasp on that world before you try changing the rules from mine.

Come on people, if your spouse cheats on you, you are not going to say it’s okay and kiss and make up in one chapter. There will be a natural rage or reckless denial or all out shattering of the betrayed. Don’t you dare rip his/her heart out and not give me a satisfying reaction. Think about the torment and show me that. Make me mad and make me cry or you have failed me.

And honestly, I could give a flying flip how much Christianese litters the pages of your book if the writing stinks. You don’t get a pass on quality story and character development because you believe in God and can copy scripture from the good book. And honestly, you should be ashamed of yourself if you try to.

I know I sound harsh, but this is something that has been bothering me. I know so many great writers and perhaps I am spoiled to excellent story spinners.  I like to think I’m not a snob. And in no way am I saying I fit my tough standards.  But I cringe every time I pick up a book and see the equivalent of Pre-K Sunday school…nothing against Pre-K btw. 😉

I want the struggle and the climb to victory. I need the sweat and tears. Give me the gory battle in which evil almost takes down good, but good pulls strength from his father’s dying words in the last minutes on the edge of a very steep cliff and knocks evil into next week.  I demand layers of philosophy and theology buried beneath mounds of flesh.

Because there is nothing more satisfying about reading than to be tangled so completely in the yarn the writer has spun, that it takes you hours, days, weeks or longer to untangle yourself from the effect it has on your mind.

I require this of my reading. And if you can accomplish that within the pages of your book, you will have a book buying fan.

Peace, love and God’s will.

About Diane Graham

Diane Graham lives in the mountains of eastern Oklahoma with her husband, children and many dogs. She is an avid reader and lover of all art forms that encapsulate imagination and goodness. Her debut novel I Am Ocilla was released in March 2012.

34 comments on “Tangle Me, Please

  1. Wow, sister, that’ll preach! 😉

  2. That’s why I don’t really read Christian fiction, the main-stream stuff has better writing. (And I can actually find it at my library)

    • I agree that libraries usually stock more mainstream books but I would have to argue the “better” writing aspect. I’ve seen a whole lot of crap printed there as well. 😉

      • I’m thinking mostly SF, since I don’t read that much fantasy or literary or historical or pretty much anything else.

  3. It’s that saccharine writing that leads so many “secular” readers to sneer at the Christian market, not only in books, but in film, which I suspect more folks have been exposed to. Quality, plausibility, genuinity…we need all these things to rise above the deep pile of schlock that clogs the bookshelves and movie screens of toady. Amen to your plain thoughts, Diane!

  4. Wait. I thought this was going to be about the Disney movie with Rapunzel.

    Do we get to hear the names of the books you chucked? Anything particularly aerodynamic? Welcome to the mainstream mindset.

    • Ha! I loved that movie. It wasn’t boring at all and it gave a me a firm grasp on the make believe world and I was able to accept a horse wielding a frying pan. 😛

  5. I agree with you, sis. I have spent tons of money on books, only for them to be thrown away because of this very same reason.

  6. I think that until you feel betrayal or rage, or shot in the back by someone you trust, or have a period of no faith that you can’t really write about it. You don’t understand the feelings and questions and the fight it takes to do what you know is right even when everything around you went wrong.

    You need to live life to write about real life.

    Just my two cents. That and my husband says that’s why everything bad happens to us, so I can write about it 🙂 (He says that in a nice, joking way 🙂

  7. Mounds of flesh. Check.

    Seriously, so much Christian literature is just plain bad. I remember My Mom getting mad at me because I wouldn’t read the Left Behind Series. I tried, really, I did. But the writing was so bad I just couldn’t do it.

    Good to see your smiling face again, especially attached to such a good blog. Most excellent!

    • I think so much literature is just plain bad. LOL

      Glad to be back in my swing and thank you. As always, you are encouraging, Mr.Spencer. 😛

    • Kevin, I got through book three and then realized that I enjoyed staring off into space much more than reading the Left Behind series and quit. I know people who have the whole series, and still talk about it with awe. The books are more like long editions of a Gospel tract.

      I taught at an Ambleside School for a year and a half, and Miss Charlotte Mason clearly understood the concept of food for the mind. Once you’ve read a book that makes you think, helps you see life from a new perspective, and continues to engage your heart and mind long after you’ve closed the book at the end, it’s like what Miracle Grow does for plants.

  8. Whoooo…preach it, sista! While I haven’t chucked any books lately, I can agree that asking us to suspend belief by that much is crazy. Give me confict! Give me real emotions! Give me…hey, you don’t think I write like that, do you? Huh? Huh?

    And what happened to that chapter that was supposed to be posted last week but wasn’t? Huh? Huh? My, you’ve brought out my feisty spirit this morning! lol…

  9. I agree! What comes to mind is the book “And Shofar Blew”. Basically this ‘pastor’ humiliates his wife for years, debases the gospel, etc. She finally walks in on him cheating on her and runs away. He has a salvation experience and they happily get back together.
    I’ve hated this jerk for the past 150 or so pages. I’ve wept for this woman. It’s only natural that she should feel hurt and angry. Yes, Christ forgives, but it takes us sinful beings time. Couldn’t the author at least make him grovel a bit first?

    Needless to say, this is why I rarely read Christian novels anymore, let alone walk down the Christian section in book stores. The people aren’t real. The plots are contrived. All the marriages are forced or accidental so that the participants can slowly fall in love and then give in to their feelings just like a nonmarried, nonChristian book would have them. It’s frustrating.

  10. I keep the most horrible books to make fun of on black days. I mean, if those can get published…

  11. This reminds me of my pet peve in action movies (or novels), where 500 guys with machine guns all shoot at the hero but miss for no reason . . . just because he’s the hero. Write me a believeable tale!

    • Yep. It’s like sharpshooters become moronic when a hero walks into the picture. Ruins the whole thing in one scene.

  12. My Dearest Youngest Daughter,

    Great post! There is nothing worse than thinking that you have a good book or a good movie, only to get a little ways into it and find it to be a dud. What is worse is to have all the so called critics rave about it as if it were a masterpiece.

    • Eat, Pray, Love is a book/movie that comes to mind. I tried to read it but was unable to make it beyond the second chapter.

  13. And there is something to be said about timing too…I am bad about starting many books only to put them down or on the shelf and then months later I decide that I will read one and I wonder why I didn’t finish such a good book in the first place. I don’t read for pleasure and I should more. I read to learn , to grow, to absorb mostly Christian material. Just got to be in the mood and it depends on what is going on in your life too.

    And there is that phenom where one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Someone wrote in a blog not too long ago that they thought that U2 sucked. They were on American Idol tonight and did a great job! Different strokes.

    OK, you fiction writers, riddle me this. When I was in my 20’s I used to be a huge Rosemary Rogers fan. Bodice rippers…after about the tenth one, it got so predictable, her style so stale that I never picked up another one. How do you change up the flow? Well, I guess if it is a good story line you want the flow there, like the Harry Potter stories. I might like the first one (well not my cup of tea really but you know) but after that, dull street.

  14. Go girl! So true, and a great reminder to us all, that no matter what genre or age group one is writing for. KEEP IT REAL!!

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