Hello friends and followers of NAF!
Life in the Minor household has been a wild ride as we’ve begun 2013. Although my pseudo-resolution involved a desire to pare back the number of pots I have on the stove, so to speak, I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Right now, we have an offer on a short-sale house in the works, I have two manuscripts in process (Valor’s Worth, book III of The Windrider Saga and A Voice Within, book II of The Risen Age Archive) Spec-Con in the process of being planned, and the foundation of The Faith and Fantasy Alliance coming together. Throw a nasty bout of the flu on top of that, and I hope you can forgive me for not having a piece of fresh brilliance for you today on the blog.
And so, like all time-pressed bloggers, I bring to you a post from the past for your consideration. Perhaps you’ve seen it before, but if not, I hope it gives you some fresh insight. I know when I ran my One Star Reviews series on my personal blog, it was pretty popular.
I thank you for your understanding of my re-blogging, and as always, I welcome your feedback on my little piece of observation. So, without further ado…
Reviewer Warnings to Writers: Skip the Head Dipping
I’ve been grabbing a little time here and there to make a study of one-star reviews of fantasy books on Amazon. The content of such reviews has been sometimes funny, but more often very telling. A detailed picture of “what not to do” as an author. Now, granted, I tend to skip over the one-star reviews where the reviewer makes an idiot of him- or herself by spouting vitriol, or spelling every third word wrong, or using syntax that requires the reader to employ a combination of creativity and mind-altering substances to make sense of the reviewer’s point.
Anyway, once the chaff blows yonder, what’s left is a specific list of what makes readers so mad they feel they have to stand in front of the book in question and wave their arms wildly, saying “Turn back! Turn back! Don’t suffer like I did.”
One of the biggest reader offenders I’m running into is what I’ll call “head dipping.” What I mean by that is a story that interrupts itself continually to give us the point of view character’s internal monologue. It seems a lot of writers not only head dip too often, but the feelings they are talking about in their characters are whiny, insecure, pathetic, and annoying. It’s true we all feel like that when we’re confronted with overwhelming circumstances, but it seems the bulk of fantasy readers don’t want to hear about it. They want the story to forge onward. They want to see the character’s conflicts, they want to hear the dialogue that reveals little snippets of the characters’ inner distress, but more than one visit in a very great while to any remotely emo passages, and you readers will let the world know–loud and clear–that they think it stinks.
While frequent passages of musing may work literary wonders in “serious” forms of prose, it appears to me fantasy is surely not one of them–from a reader perspective. Since most of us who write genre fiction are indeed writing for readers, I believe we would do well to heed the issues that inspire one-star reviews. As I turn up more recurring themes in these boo-hiss reviews, I’ll be back to share what those are. And as always, I invite your commentary on what you think about the observations I bring up here.
Happy reading and writing, friends!