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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Impatient

I gave up on another book. It just didn't grab me. I don't want to trash someone else's work since it is just my opinion and I know I am in the minority. This is a popular author. It is not new (published in 1994 in fact) so I'm not cramping anyone's sales anyway.
I ran into the same issue I had with another book I abandoned not too long ago. I read the synopsis on the back and the story intrigued me. A synopsis is a difficult thing to do, to boil down a book to just the essentials, but it can be a good test of a story's simplicity. If you can't sum it all up and fit it on the back of a book jacket maybe your story is a little too broad. But this one did the same thing as the last: the author and publisher both agreed on what was the crux of the story. The meat. The important bits. Then I got 50 pages in and none of that stuff had happened yet. I got a ton of backstory. Childhood lives, family history, deeply researched ethnic flavor. But no plot! I just can't hang with a story that meanders for that long without getting to what the author and publisher has agreed is the selling point of the book.
I think if your synopsis doesn't begin until 50-75 pages into your book maybe it is time to get out the red pen again and make some cuts.
I am a product of TV. Blame that. I have a busy life and only get to read on my lunch break so I need a book to grab me and get on with it. Maybe you like to linger on backstory but I sure don't. And then there's that damn blurb on the back. I just can't imagine no one else notices it. It's what you are using to sell me on your book!
Perhaps I have a double standard. I love the slow burn of the first 20 minutes of Psycho as much as anyone and I think it makes the rest of the film so effective. I guess if could read 50 pages in 20 minutes it wouldn't bug me but this was two full lunch breaks and I wasn't invested in this book at all. Maybe it all paid off in the end but I'll never know.
Oh well. It's not like I don't have a TBR pile the size of my daughter. On to the next one!

5 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

I'm with you, Eric. Let's get moving pretty quickly. Why Psycho works is that, although it takes a bit to get to Norman and the main story, you get some movement- a robbery,sex, tension- in the 'intro'.

As Altman said - 'Just get To The verb!"

Eric Beetner said...

Good point, Paul. Can't believe I'll agree with anything Altman but that's a great quote. (hate his films - so sue me)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I scrap most after a chapter or two. But lately, I'm on a roll.

Joyce said...

I completely agree. I regret having to give up on a book, but it happens. They need to grab me right away. I don't expect the whole story to unfold within the first two or three pages, but, like you said, at least within the first 50. If I'm nodding by then, I'm done. I won't openly criticize it because some people like that kind of thing, but I certainly make sure I avoid that author in the future. Fair? Maybe not, but that's how it affects me.

Keith Rawson said...

I've been on a roll lately, too, and I'm managing to shrink my toddler size TBR pile pretty fast lately.

BTW, sorry for this

http://bloodyknucklescallusedfingertips.blogspot.com/

go there to waste some time