The recommendation we hear over and over is that writers should read within their genre, and read a lot! Recently I read two books (traditionally published) that I didn't care for as much as I would have liked, one young adult and one adult novel.
It's been years since I've come across books I didn't care so much about and at first I thought I had wasted my time. But the more I thought about these two books the more I realized I was learning what not to do when I'm working on my own projects.
The YA novel was so awesome for the first half of the book, I mean really awesome. Then it went into a place where I got lost and confused and I didn't really understand what was happening. I did finish it though. But here are the things I picked up on.
• I realized I might have done this with one of my own novels and now that I know how much I didn't like this confusion of not understanding where the story was going and what was happening, it gives me something to watch out for in my own work.
• There was some odd phrasing or wording throughout that may have been an attempt to be clever, but I just didn't understand it at all. Something else I'm sure I've done before and I will make sure I check for that in the future.
The Adult novel seemed like a great read from the book cover but once I got into it, it barely mentioned one of the main devices that made it so attractive to me in the first place. I quit this one half way, here's why:
• I could not figure out what the goal of the main character was. The story was more about th MC's everyday life happenings, nothing urgent or life-changing was occurring to propel the story forward. I'm not sure that I've done this in my works, but I'm going to make sure I don't!
• The device I mentioned –this is the main reason I was attracted to this book in the first place and the cover made me think the character was going to have to battle it out, or figure it out, or survive it but it just didn't come to pass. Maybe it happens in the last half, but I never made it that far. I can't spend time reading about an MC's ho hum mostly normal daily activities for 259 pages (which is what I did) there are 384 pages in the book! I'm not sure that I've sent a query (which is supposed to be like a book cover) and stated something that was so off from what the book is really about. But I will definitely be sure to not do this.
Now to be fair, I looked up reviews for both and found that several for the YA, felt the same as I did. But for the most part this book got really good reviews. For the adult, I think it was about seventy five percent that felt the same as I did. So it just goes to show, once again, how subjective our tastes are. :)
Have you read a book recently that you were disappointed with? Was there anything you learned from it?
Happy writing all!