Sometimes reading a book will hurt.
Sure, sometimes it’s because the author has done a fantastic job crafting characters that go through trials. You’ll read the people there and ache when their lives fall apart. That’s good writing.
And sometimes… sometimes reading a book will hurt because you can tell the author doesn’t know what they’re doing.
And it gets worse if you’re a writer yourself.
See, there’s craft that goes into writing a good story. You end up paying attention to things like, say, head hopping.
Most books will tell a story from a limited number of perspectives, but usually one perspective at a time. If right now the story’s being told from Melinda’s perspective, you don’t get to know what Georgie is thinking.
It’s something I’ve gotten to know well. Madelyn of the Sky is always from Madelyn’s perspective, outside of the prologues and epilogues. The upcoming Cade and the Last Starship will all be from Cade’s perspective, outside the prologues and epilogues. If Cade doesn’t know something, the readers won’t, either.
Keeping in one person’s head at a time helps the reader to understand what’s going on. We’re getting one person’s thoughts at a time!
But the last book I read head-hopped constantly. I wasn’t sure who I was reading about for chunks of chapters! And the book I just picked up? Same problem.
I think if I wasn’t a writer, I might notice, but it wouldn’t bother me as much. Now, though? Oh, it’s tough!
I remember the first time I caught a typo in a professional book. It was a Star Trek book. I was so proud of myself! Look, I caught something a professional editor didn’t!
But I’m reading a book now that clearly could use another edit. I’m finding typos pretty regularly. And it feels… unprofessional to me. Like more should have been done.
Speculative fiction authors will often have to come up with new words to fit their new worlds. A new vocabulary is part of the genre, fairly often. That said, writers need to be careful to introduce concepts in good, organized ways so that readers don’t feel slogged down.
Guess what’s wrong with my current read? Yep. I feel like I’m reading a dictionary instead of good worldbuilding.
Before anyone asks, no, I’m not going to name names. The last book I read had some good things, and my current book has some good things, too. At the same time, it really does hurt to read them. These books could be so much better than they are right now.
And then I look at my writing…
I think it’s time to get going on another revision. I don’t want to hurt my readers.
Well, I do, but for all the right reasons.