Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Strengths and Weaknesses

Further to my previous blog about strengths and weaknesses, it's sad but true that when it comes to writing, an author's strengths or weaknesses can be as subjective as anything else.

For instance, if a writer's good at dialogue, so there's lots of it in a book, that tends to make for a fast-paced, character-driven story. Some readers will love that, and consider that a great strength on the part of the writer. Other readers who prefer a different sort of story might consider that a weakness. Where is the lush description and interesting detail? However, for those who prefer a fast-paced story, that lush description and added details are just boring distractions that they tend to skip. They would consider that a weakness.

I don't think there's a solution to this. Like so much of writing, it just...is.

But while I'm on the subject of skipping parts of a book, I have to say I always get a little cranky when I hear a reader announce, often with what seems a great deal of pride, that they "just skip all that stuff", whether it's love scenes or historical background, or anything else.

I, and most authors I know, don't just toss "stuff" in our books for the heck of it. If it's there, it's there for a reason, whether because it's important in terms of character, plot or setting, or because it's what makes that author different from another. Skip something, and you're missing something.

It's like eating half a cookie.

5 comments:

Kimber Chin said...

I've skipped over certain parts of novels (not yours) when the sensuality is out of my comfort zone (blunt names for body parts and activities) yet the story is too strong to walk away from.

I know I'm going to miss a chunk of the story but the rest of the writing makes up for it.

It is kind of like closing my eyes during graphic scenes in movies (which I do... a lot).

Maureen McGowan said...

I've never been an intentional skipper. But I am guilty of going several pages and then realizing I need to go back and read them again because my mind drifted. My goal as a writer is to avoid places where that happens... but perhaps given this subjective media and the amount of control we must hand over to the reader... Perhaps it isn't possible to write something that no one will skip parts of or drift away through parts of... But a gal can dream...

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, and Kimber... I never skip those parts. LOL

Kimber Chin said...

Yeah, Maureen, I could never write erotica. Or extremely bloody battle scenes. LOL

Margaret Moore said...

Having just done a slash and burn on my own ms. because I found bits slow, I hope I don't wind up with skippable bits. But as I said, sometimes one person's lush style can be another person's boring, so I don't think you can ever really know for sure what some folks will skip.

If I'm finding a book boring (ie. skippable), I stop reading it. And sometimes I can tell from the first page that I'm going to find the author's style tough going, so I don't get the book.