Friday, October 26, 2018

Fiction Friday, Oct. 26, 2018: Bad Books

I know you're not supposed to write reviews where you just carp on how bad a book is, and 
I know most authors try really hard to write a good book, and 
I know I haven't been able to write a better one than even the worst ones I've read, so far....so

That's why I'm not writing the title or the author's name here, and
That's why I'm just going to write here a list of my pet peeves about all bad books, and
That's why I'm offering to send this book to any of my readers who think they might like it.

Pet peeves and other comments:

1. Show, don't tell. I mean, really. 

2. No, you're not the first one to write a so-called steamy love scene. Nor the first one to think it would be great as the opening scene of your novel. And....wait for it....not the first one to make a reader so angry and frustrated at your clumsiness that she threw the book down on the floor.

3. Get an editor. I mean, really, get an editor. I will be happy to be your editor. No, not YOUR editor, bad writer of bad book, but if anyone you know ever happens to write a book that has some promise of being readable and not-throwable-downable, I'll edit it for that person.

4. Read this essay. "Politics and the English Language," by George Orwell. See, I've found it online for you, so all you have to do is follow the link, and you can read it. You won't have to go through your old college textbooks to find it, and I write this knowing, absolutely knowing, that you did read this essay in college (or at least you should have), and I forgive you for having forgotten it, but, still, please, do read it again. 

5. There's more, but these are the ones I'm willing to take time to enumerate at this early hour, before I get back to doing my own, my real, my pressing and important work. Because life is too short to waste any more time than I already have on this book....

6.....which, by the way, I will send to anyone, as I mentioned earlier. Just write a comment here or send me an email message with your name and address, and I'll get this book to you asap. But you must promise to write back to tell me the rest of the plot (after that stupid steamy pile of opening scene which made me throw the book on the floor) and offer your own review, which I will include in a future blog post here, or not, if you'd prefer. Just so you tell me about it.

7. Orwell notes in his essay that while it is not about "literary" but political writing, the rules still apply to all writing. I'm not going to enumerate them here because he has already done it better than I ever could.  Here are Orwell's rules:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

And now, Dear Reader, one final comment. One good thing about finding that Bad Book is that it has given me a chance to think again about good writing. And that brings me to another great essay by George Orwell,  "Shooting an Elephant." I'm linking to it here so you can read (re-read) it. And I will re-read it too.

Thanks for your patience. And, now, on with the day! 

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