Morning Coffee: Are All Books Created Equal?

Do you finish reading every book you start? I don’t. Well, I do most of the time, but every now and then I start one where I just can’t justify my time. Life is short and there are too many good books calling my name. More than I can read in a lifetime.

It happened to me again recently. I’ve been trying to read it, hoping it would improve, but it just didn’t. I now have a better understanding of my own editor’s comments regarding passive versus active voice. This book is written almost entirely in passive voice. The author is merely telling the story rather than allowing the reader to experience it.

We did this…we did that…then time passed and we did something else… Very little dialogue and action mixing with the narrative. It keeps putting me to sleep.

This wouldn’t be the only reason I don’t finish a book. It has been several years, but the one before was confusing. It advertised as the first in a series, but it read like I was being dropped in the middle of whatever was happening to the heroine. The story’s premise was interesting, so I pushed on for a while hoping for a sudden clarification, but it never came so I deleted it from my kindle. Happy I had bought it on sale. The time before I quit early in a NYT best seller because I didn’t like the bad guys. I know, you’re not supposed to, but I REALLY didn’t like them.

Each time I moved on to something else and was glad for it. Last week I picked up an Eloisa James book I purchased at a book signing several years back. I’ve had it in my to-be-read pile ever since and am reminded what is truly good writing. This one is hard to put down. I even feel a little sorry for the bad guy.

As I said, life’s too short to waste on a boring, or just plain bad, read. When I pick up a book, I want to be thrown head first into another time and place filled with interesting people who will help me forget whatever’s going on in my own world.

It’s the same when I’m writing. I spend more time editing the first chapter than any other. I know if I don’t catch my readers right from the start, the rest of the book doesn’t matter.

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