Being Nitpicky

I’ve been travelling a bit lately, so I may be suffering from jetlag.  And general grumpiness.  So this is a sort of rant-y post.  Just a small one.

I was reading a new-to-me author today.  It’s a cosy mystery (as an aside, I am always looking for new authors in this subgenre, so please rec away) and so I had high hopes as it had been recommended somewhere (not entirely sure where, I just know it ended up on my wishlist a few months ago).

Unfortunately, I put it down after the first couple of chapters.  Why?  Because little things kept on jumping out at me, and ultimately stopped me from getting into the story.

Let me explain.

This book is the type that starts with a girl, let’s call her A, being murdered in the prologue.  The first chapter then had A’s employer musing about how reliable A is, what a treasure A is, etc., etc., on her way to work, and then reaching her shop and finding A hadn’t opened up the shop as previously agreed.  Instead of getting worried (hello, you’ve just explained exactly how fantastic and dependable A is), the owner immediately has an annoyed “WTF, how dare she not keep her word, I’m going to kill her”-type reaction.  Inconsistent.

And then the owner discovers A at the bottom of a staircase with her head at an awkward angle.  Reaction?  Not a “Oh, no, A has slipped and fallen!”, instead, a “Oh no, someone’s beaten me to killing her!”, and leaping instantly to the conclusion she’s been murdered.  Maybe it was just awkward phrasing – I haven’t continued to the next chapter yet, but using the word “kill” at this point seems to be jumping the gun a bit.

I guess I’m frustrated because these appear to be the sort of inconsistencies an editor or critique partner should have pointed out for fixing.  However, I’m not sure if I’d have noticed these, say, a couple of years ago.  Or I would have just put it down as a so-so book without thinking about why or what didn’t work for me.  And I certainly wouldn’t have thought that it needed more editing.

I thought about this a bit more and you know what?  I think it’s due to blogging.  I’m no writer, but I follow a lot of authors’ blogs (who me, lurk?), and surprise, surprise, they talk about writing.  Being on the other side of the fence, I find it fascinating to read about the behind-the-scenes stuff, and how much time and effort goes into crafting and polishing that finished book that lands in my hands.  I especially love Ilona Andrews posts where she dissects and reconstructs paragraphs.  I mean, I read the original paragraph, and I usually think “eh” and then she pulls it apart and sort of fits it together again, and I think “wow”.  Well, usually  😉

What I do take away from her posts (and other similar ones) is that the smallest thing can completely throw a scene off, whether it’s the character knowing something s/he shouldn’t know or reacting inconsistently or jarring POV shifts.  And as a result, I find myself being a lot more critical when reading nowadays.

So.  Rant over.  I may go back and skim the book to see if it improves.

Thoughts?  Have you found yourself becoming a pickier reader as a result of reading writers’ blogs?

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4 thoughts on “Being Nitpicky

  1. Actually, I think that your reaction is warranted. I mean, especially if A was at the bottom of the staircase… Usually, people don’t just to the conclusion that it’s murder, but accident… so I would see why it annoys you.

    where did you go?

  2. Yes! Blogging has definitely made me a more critical reader, in terms of finding out exactly what it is I liked or disliked about the story I’m reading. This is why I love reading blogs, too, because I get to see so many other people’s ideas about how they go about “enjoying” or “hating” something! Keep up with the ranting =P

  3. Oh absolutely. I have become much more selective in my reading since blogging and reading blogs. And I had never thought about it before but you’re right about learning from author blogs on writing. Ilona’s really is a great one. I also love Deanna Raybourn’s and Kristin Cashore’s. Very informative. Sorry about the DNF.

  4. Nath – I think it really got to me because it was a really simple thing to have spotted and fixed, and yet it was left in. And you know, two things that annoyed me in the same chapter. Grrr.

    Sharry – LOL. I just wanted to get it off my chest. I feel so much better now 😉

    Angie – Good point, it isn’t just reading writer blogs, it’s also thinking more critically about the books I’ve read if I plan on mentioning them on this blog! I’m not a regular reader of Kristin Cashore’s blog for some reason, will have to add it to my reader.

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