Random Ramblings, Writing

Bad Writing Can Be More Influential Than Good

I love reading.  I’ve been tracking what I’ve read this year, writing down each author and title starting with the first day of spring.  Why start in March?  I’m not sure.  I suppose it’s because everyone else makes their resolutions at the beginning of the year, when they’re too busy to actually commit.  March seemed like a quieter time to make a resolution to read at least 50 books in a year.  That seemed like a reasonable amount.  That’s only a book a week.  I’m not taking into consideration the length of the stories, so some have been shorter than others.  So far, I’m at 27 books.

 One of the things I’ve discovered on my reading adventures, is the affect reading has on my own writing.  I’ve been trying to read a variety of stories.  Some writers are amazing.  I read their stories and I’m transported into the world they’ve created.  I read their work, and I’m reminded to try to remember all five senses when describing a scene.  It’s not always easy.  I like dialog driven stories, but I know that they can feel shallow if there’s nothing else there.  I read a short story last year that was nothing but good dialog and no descriptions at all, not one shred of description, nothing.  It was different and a little experimental.  I suppose it was the story equivalent of junk food, reader’s cotton candy, something to be enjoyed for what it is, but not something I would want to make a meal out of.  I was able to learn from this.  I’ve also read the opposite of this spectrum, pages and pages of description, down to the buttons on a man’s shirt.  Stories like this are like a 7 course meal.  I’ve had fancy dinners, but I don’t eat this way everyday.  It’s a special occasion sort of thing.  Most stories I’ve enjoyed, fall somewhere in the middle.

 Today I finished reading a book that was terribly disappointing.  It doesn’t matter what the title is.  This isn’t about author bashing. I know the writer must have gone though a lot of struggles, because the beginning was so wonderfully written.  I don’t think I had ever read a story quite like this one in my preferred genre.  Unfortunately, it was the ending that I found to be the problem.  I had the impression that the author just wanted to finish the story so they could go onto something else.  The ending was full of typos and formatting issues.  The villain died much too easily based on the parameters the author had set.  I was beyond frustrated.  I felt betrayed. 

 I could relate to the author, even though I was upset at what that person did to their story.  This is what I’m currently struggling with.  I don’t want to do this to my characters.  I know there comes a point where you need to call a book done.  I’m very close to this point, but I’m not quite ready.  I feel like my ending needs more work.  It’s too short.  I can’t expect everything to wrap up as fast as I originally wrote it.  Life doesn’t have clean easy solutions.  Life is messy and complicated.  Vampires are NOT “fluffy bunnies.”

 Reading bad writing, makes me feel inspired, but also fearful.  Writing is SUCH a subjective thing.  I know what I like to read and what I don’t like to read.  When I read something that’s badly written, it brings up the same twinge I get when I see bad parenting.  No one WANTS to be a bad parent just as no author WANTS to make their readers throw their book against the wall.  But like bad parenting, I think sometimes we learn more from mistakes than anything else. 

 I make mistakes in all aspects of my life everyday.  I suppose all I can hope for is the wisdom to learn what I can from both my own mistakes, and those of others.

JH

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10 thoughts on “Bad Writing Can Be More Influential Than Good”

  1. This is a great post! I agree with you 100%! We need to try to learn from both good and bad writing, just like everything else in life. That is the goal, after all, to learn and grow each step of the way.
    Thanks for posting!
    Sharon 🙂

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  2. Bad writing is terrible. Completly agree, especially with stories where the story is REALLY good, but the way the author’s written is absolutly awful. It makes me cringe sometimes. But this is really really good practise for people who care about the story line though. Becuase what I’ve tended to start to do is re write just a tiny little extract so that it fits a little better to the amazing story line. Just a little tap I’d like to add. It really helps my writing I’d like to get somewhere.

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  3. I learned a lot from – of all places – Harry Potter. I was in a lot of “fan groups” when the series concluded and I learned a lot about what really makes a reader mad – don;t kill important characters off to the side – they’re important characters and if they die the reader should see it. Don;t introduce laws of your universe part way through because people feel cheated. Don’t have someone out to kill your main character in every book. By the third book people are saying “what/?Again?” I could go on, but, anyway 😉

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    1. So true Jo! There’s a couple of series that come to mind that leave me irritated. It’s as if the author is using a formula: Put main character’s life in danger, kill off 2.5 minor characters, make sure all the male characters are in love with the female main character, lather, rinse, and repeat.
      At least the Harry Potter books didn’t seem to be following any formulas, athough my memory might be a little “froggy” by now. I should go back and reread them. I was 23 when the first book was published, so I must have been around 25 or older when I started to read the series. I know a lot of people were angry with the last book. I don’t remember getting upset with it myself. I do remember that my friends who were in their 30s and over seemed to gleen something different than those who were in their teens and twenties. Now that I’m approaching 40 and have a kid of my own, I wonder if I’ll look at the series the same way…interesting.

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  4. Bah! I don’t have an email address for you! I tried to send you a mail and realized it :p

    If you don;t mind, could you send me something to Joleene (at) JoleeneNaylor (dot) com if you would be so kind. I don’t care what – a tongue out face will work, LOL!

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  5. I loved the last Harry Potter book.. wtf? LoL. I agree with you on bad writing. What we consider bad writing helps us to learn and look at our own writing in a different way. Do we do that too? If we don’t enjoy that kind of writing, how can we make our writing different? What audience were they trying to attract with their style? What audience am I trying to attract?

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    1. He! He! Karole, You KNOW I’m a Potter fan. Breath In…and out. Better? He! He! We’re ALL Potter friends here. 🙂

      I’m not sure what happened to the story that inspired this post. I left a Facebook comment about it the other day as well. I won’t give out the title publicly on FB or here because that would be mean. I have enough bad luck floating around me as is! All I will say is this: You can kill vampires and demons in lots of ways. I don’t think having nookie with a vampire/demon should be one of them. Throw one in a wood chipper, light em up on Ye old BarBQ grill, but nookie is NOT the way to kill your immortal vampire/demon, esp. one that’s thousands of years old. I KNOW we’re talking about fictional beings, but come on! There are rules here folks! Vampires may accidentally/on-purpose kill off a lover while caught up in the momment, but unless there are weapons involved, it doesn’t work the other way around. Humans can’t nookie a vampire/demon to death. They just can’t! There I said it. If I think too hard about it, I’ll be adding it onto my Vampire Facts post, although that might be a little confusing.

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