Thursday, 6 October 2011

I began reading a novel

last night. This is my "bedtime book". I always try to have something there. It helps me wind down, relax and go to sleep.
This one is by a well known female author. It is supposed to be a psychological thriller. So far there has been an unlikely escape from prison and a string of subsequent events that are - unlikely.
I know that thrillers, crime yarns, detective stories etc etc often have unlikely events in them but this may be too unlikely for me. So far the plot is full of holes. It just could not happen that way. The law is wrong. How in the heck did the writer get away with it?
I have just looked at some reviews of the same book. There are the usual glowing reviews but there are also hints of uneasiness within them. There are several reviews which query aspects of the plot but still commend the book. Perhaps I am demanding too much. Perhaps I need to be more willing to suspend my disbelief.
The book has done me a favour however. It has reinforced my belief that my own writing will need a good editor. All books need a good editor. Mine, if they ever get that far, will not be an exception. It would be arrogant to suppose they did not.
I suspect that outstandingly good authors employ outstandingly good editors. If I had a lot of money one of the few things I feel I would like to be self-indulgent about is to have one of those really good editors sit down with something I had written and pull it to pieces. I would probably hate a lot of what they had to say but, if I was sensible, I would learn a lot from it.
I wonder if some authors get to the point where they are so well known they feel they do not need an editor for anything more than a cursory glance at the manuscript? Do they want nothing more than someone to check that the hero has not changed eye-colour or occupation - unless it is part of the plot?
I read a book intended for children recently. A child gave it to me and asked me to read it. Their comment was, "It's supposed to be a good book but I think it's stupid because kids don't do things like that."
I had to agree with the child. I understood why the book had been written. It had been written in an attempt to teach children something. I explained this and received a look of disgust. "Then just write about that. Don't try and make a stupid story out of it."
I have some sympathy with that point of view. At least the book had been edited. The plot was unlikely but the facts were accurate. It would teach a child something.
However the book I started last night does not even have that excuse. Outright attempts to teach in adult books rarely, if ever, succeed anyway.
I will try to be completely fair and read some more of the book this evening. Perhaps there will be something there to grip me and say, "This book is worth reading. Persist."
If that does not happen then I will read something else.

3 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

I used to plough my way through every book I started, out of some sort of respect to the author's hard work. One day I realised that I will never read all the good books in my lifetime without wasting time on ones I don't enjoy :-)

Rachel Fenton said...

I'm with Sarah - sometimes I think a trip back to the 1800s would be good, when you could say you were well read and it meant you had literally read every novel ever wtitten!

Life is too short....

catdownunder said...

I gave up with it Sarah. I went to the library this morning and borrowed something that looks much more likely.
Ooh Rachel - I love the idea of being that well read (but then think of all the things we would have missed out on!)