Part of the problem with writing books is that it sometimes takes all the pleasure out of reading them. And I don’t mean that in a snide way, just that when I do manage to snag a little extra time to read for fun, I find myself going over everything with a more critical eye. This is probably because I’ve been forced to reevaluate so much of my own writing, as well as doing crits for other writers or judging contest entries.
It’s hard to turn off that jaded little voice that now inherently starts pointing out flaws (perceived or otherwise), wherever they may be.
Too many -ly words. Strange metaphors. Using the same word too many times too close to each other. WTF heroes and TSTL heroines.
All these little pet peeves start adding up and adding up until it’s hard to really just *enjoy* a story for what it is.Which is why I’m always pleasantly surprised when I come across something that I do enjoy – the latest of which is the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.
They are shorter books – about 200 to 300 pages or so, but there isn’t a wasted word anywhere – the writing is very crisp and fresh and doesn’t make me cringe. The heroine is sassy without being a sue – she doesn’t know it all, she’s not a sword-wielding vigilante out to save the world, but she’s nicely stubborn. There are romantic elements to the books, but I wouldn’t qualify them as full-on romance by any means. The author doesn’t really pull any punches, up to and including a particularly disturbing rape scene. And I should point out, it’s not overly graphic, but it doesn’t need to be – the craft here is so finely honed that much is said with very little. (And I do think it’s pretty brave to have your heroine raped, and then have her deal with the aftermath in a fairly realistic way without going completely over the top.)
All in all, a breath of fresh air, and one I wouldn’t mind emulating style-wise at all. If anything, as I go through this batch of revisions (admittedly not too many from the agent – and yay, I think we’re going out on submission very soon!), I’m starting to see places where I can tighten in a similar manner without losing the sense of my own writing voice.
Bottom line: Go buy them and read them! 🙂