Writing Ain’t Easy (I Said Wryly)

If that title doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. At this stage of the game, I cringe at the idea of blogging about anything too authoritatively in the way of writing criticism – especially as it deals with successful authors – but heck, I’m also an avid reader. I even occasionally paid attention in my English and writing classes. So when I run across a best-selling author with tons of books out and an avid following, writing in a genre I’m interested in, I wanna give it a try.

Obviously, not every best-selling author is a brilliant writer, especially when we’re talking about commercial fiction. And writers, like the rest of humanity, are individuals with their own style – or voice – and that is what makes them so addictive when we find what we can jive with.  It is also what makes them so loathsome when we find one whose “voice” makes you want to skin live puppies. (No puppies were harmed in the creation of this blog).

One of the biggest things that will send me into fits  is when authors use an excessive amount of adverbs, sometimes referred to as “wrylies”. For example:  “Bite me,” he said meanly. Or: “I’m a terrible writer,” she said sadly. This falls under writer 101 of things not to do. Even at my unbest-selling status as a writer, I’ve known that forever. So how do  major writers publishing books out of major publishing houses end up with book after book on the shelves filled with this type of lazy writing? Did the editors ever even read the thing?

Recently, I was reading one such book, and was immediately infuriated by it. The fact that the story was lame and went nowhere didn’t help it either. I kept reading, because this author had such a great reputation in this particular genre, and I was stunned; there must be something I was missing. Pretty soon, I was considering inventing a drinking game to how many times she used “he said/she said dryly”. Ironic that it rhymes with wryly. In one short chapter I counted dryly eight times. It was at the point where it was beginning to make me thirsty.

I mentioned this to some co-workers who are avid readers themselves, and both also happen to dabble in writing. After much laughter at the idiocy of this author, one of them later that day spotted the offending book on my desk. Her immediate reaction to seeing it was, “Oh my gosh! I love that book series, I’ve read the whole thing. If you want to borrow the rest, let me know, I’ve bought them in print AND downloaded them on my kindle!”

My reaction to this vacillated between extreme rage and crushing depression. Although I didn’t share that information with her, as I plan on still remaining employed. I did share it with my other co-worker though, and he said what I needed to hear:  “Then go do it better.” Exactly. 

I can whine and complain all I want about what other people are doing, and blablabla, but that’s not relevant. All that matters is that I do what I need to do. If I don’t like what people are writing in a particular genre, than I can just go do it myself, or I can shut up about it. Of course, me shutting up is unlikely to ever happen, but we all have our dreams.

In the meantime, if you would like details on my wryly drinking game tournament, please contact me. I said smugly.

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4 comments on “Writing Ain’t Easy (I Said Wryly)

  1. Or… you could decide not to purchase books from authors whose writing doesn’t cut it for you.

    Anecdotally speaking… I was in an airport bookstore and once bought a book called Simple Genius by David Baldacci before a flight. The book was poorly written and the ending was a mess… nevertheless, the cover proudly announced that the book was a NY Times Best Seller.

    Now just because I’m not a Baldacci fan doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of people who haven’t read and enjoyed his book. He’s probably made quite a nice tidy sum from books like Simple Genius, and more power to him if he can sell books like that and make a great profit.

    Given my own experiences though, I wouldn’t purchase any more of his books.

    • Isn’t it amazing how that “voice” is different for everyone?

      I agree with you on Baldacci – I don’t get it – but my Mom thinks everything he writes is the elixir of life.

      Thanks for the comment Carol!

  2. Yes I agree, adverbs are really, really bad! Sorry had to do it. It is hard to not pick apart an author once you know the “rules” of writing. I am not perfect with grammar, but I do try and one day I hope to obtain “acceptable” status. “)

    • It’s sort of like when you go to a film with an acting student and they groan and moan through the whole thing about the lead actor’s technique? You’re like, “Shut up! I’m trying to enjoy the movie!” (lol) I think we as writers do the same thing. Ultimately, I always hope that my voice as a writer is what shines through, and not my grammatical errors.

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