Monday, 12 September 2011

Pinch of salt or really important?

Today, I received my first negative comment for BLACK DONALD.

"...his authorial intrusions keep getting in the way. Not a single line of dialog or exposition is ever presented without this meddling author telling the reader more than the reader needs... or wants... to know..."

To be honest, I was rather shocked after all the positive comments I have received.  I also had to look up authorial intrusions as I had never heard of that terminology before.  For those who do not know, it refers to the opinion of the author jumping into the story to give the reader some outside-the-character's-point-of-view knowledge.

I am in two minds about this comment because I have received quite a few positive comments from numerous sources regarding BLACK DONALD.


"...I was not disappointed. I had never heard of Black Donald, so was keen to read this story. It has a very interesting contemporary twist to a very old folklore character. Furthermore, the author has a very easy to read style to writing which makes you want to turn that page and continue. I could not put this down once I had started to read. I desperately wanted to know what happened to the main characters..."

From (when they received the announcement of paperback release from my twitter account):

"...I loved BLACK DONALD!  Such an interesting twist at the end.  I read it in two nights before i went to sleep and couldn't put it down.  Can't wait for the next one."

A verbal comment made to me from an English Teacher colleague:

"Nigel, BLACK DONALD is fantastic!  I loved the characterisation, the plot and the twist at the end.  I loved how you incorporated parts of Revelations into it.  The only problem with it was, it was too short!"

Another teacher colleague:

" wife refused to read it, because she found it too scary.  Nigel, that is exactly what you want in a thriller, great job!"

These are just some of the comments - so what do I believe?  The average reader, or the one who went on to say:

"...If the writer had just told this story without over telling it, it might have been worth reading, but then, that requires studying the craft of writing, and few writers bother these days..."

I know what you are probably thinking - go with the average - but you know what, whomever this critic is, wherever they are in the world, I am going to take their comment on board, whether it is true or not.

However, one thing I have learnt over the past few months is, not everyone has the same tastes in reading and not every book in the same genre is everybody's cup of tea.

I am enjoying Simon Beckett's Forensic anthropology crime novels, and thought I would try Kathy Reichs' of the same genre - but sadly could not get into it.  They both are best sellers, Ms Reichs has been dubbed 'Number 1 in her genre', yet her style of writing was too jumpy for my liking - I could not get into it at all and had to stop after chapter 1.

I am not trying to put Ms Reichs' writing down at all - that is not my way, rather I am trying to make a point here...

Kathy Reichs has been a number one best seller, the top of her genre and has published numerous books using the same main character.  Someone must be buying and enjoying her books, in fact, to receive the much coveted award of number one best seller, Ms Reichs must have sold quite a lot of books - but they are not my taste.  I cannot get into her character's mind.  I cannot feel for her characters.  I cannot get past her jumpy sentence structure, her unique way of writing, her obvious successful method of story-telling.

So, and here is the point...

If I can't get past chapter 1 of Kathy Reichs' novel, a notable author with many published books to her name and an expert in the field of the her main character (forensic anthropology), then surely, BLACK DONALD, a novella based around the ancient Scottish folklore of Black Donald (that is the Devil who has all the skills to hide among humans, except shoe-making), will not be everyone's cup of tea?

So, in the end, I will take this negative comment on board and use it to improve my writing skill through the years...

Incidentally, I mentioned Simon Beckett's forensic anthropology novels earlier - Simon Beckett is not an anthropologist like Ms Reichs is, rather he is journalist who did some research.  That speaks volumes - doesn't it?

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