Description Rant

I’m not sure I’ve ever done a rant prompted by a book before, but I’ve been simmering about this topic since yesterday and I just need to share my anger with someone. So, I’ve been excited to read this one particular book for quite a few months. I’m not going to divulge what the title is, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m picking on this one author. I’ve actually encounter this same issue in books by two other authors, so it’s not as if it’s only something this one author does.

I pull up the book on my kindle with a sense of excitement because, as I said already, I’ve been looking forward to this. I’ve heard wonderful things about this book. The prologue is intriguing, with an interesting overview of a sort of alternate reality earth. I flip eagerly to the first chapter, where I am promptly assaulted by a first person account of sunbathing with a four page description of not only the main character’s outfit, but her hair and her figure. I close the book. I probably sat there dazed for a few seconds. There is nothing–nothing–I want to read less than a self-absorbed character which is exactly how that woman comes off after spending five hundred words describing herself. The rest of the book might be marvelous, but I’m not sure I can wrangle myself into caring at this point. I would much, much rather have no description at all than be handed that so early in the book.

I don’t spend that much time thinking about how I look, ever. I just don’t. If I think about my appearance at all I’m more likely to complain about how unruly my hair is behaving that day, or how the bags under my eyes seem to be growing by the hour. This is exactly why I avoid giving descriptions of my characters in scenes from their PoV. It’s so difficult to make the character seem anything other than self-absorbed and disgustingly vain. I wouldn’t even want to have a conversation with a person who spends pages describing herself, never mind read a couple of hundred pages about her life. Ugh.

Now that I’ve rambled for entirely too long about this. Do you have any fiction pet peeves you’d like to share?

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Review for River Marked

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6)River Marked by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

River Marked was different from the other Mercy books, and I’m undecided on which version I prefer.

I liked that we got a lot of Mercy’s background that we’d been missing. I also enjoyed the reduced angst because the relationship issues between her and Adam finally got resolved.

What I liked less was that beginning seemed slow, I think that’s because a lot of the Native American backstory had to be fit in and that made for less action early on. We do get a good amount Mercy butt-kicking goodness, but it’s left until relatively late. I also thought that Mercy and Adam as a couple deserved more screen time.

One big plus I will give in counterpoint is that I love how Adam is willing to let Mercy be herself. There’s always the temptation with dominant characters to run over everyone in the course of getting their way, but it’s nicely handled in this book. Though it’s all in Mercy’s PoV, we get to know a lot of what goes on in Adam’s head.

Overall, I felt like this deviated too much from the previous books for me to be entirely thrilled with it, but at the same time I understand that Mercy has to evolve or else there’s little point to continuing on with her story. Still, I love me some coyote-girl and that goes a long way.

View all my reviews

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Character Relationships Revealed through Dialog

I don’t use this space to discuss writing often because mostly I find that stuff so boring. Not that it isn’t important, because it is, I just hate talking about it because I don’t feel like there’s much interesting to say. However, while I was watching The Abyss this week I was struck by how much well-handled dialog can help writers avoid the dreaded info dump. [Aside: If you haven’t ever seen the movie, I highly recommend it. I think it holds up very well, though it’s over twenty years old now.]

There’s a scene early on in the movie where Bud is speaking to Lindsey over the radio. We don’t know much about either of them yet, only that they don’t seem to get along. Bud disconnects from his conversation and says, “I hate that bitch.” Hippy, another character in the room with him says, “Well, you probably shouldn’t have married her then.” Cue laughter.

Wow. With two very natural lines of dialog look what Cameron has accomplished. He’s told us that Bud and Lindsey are married, that there is a lot of tension in their relationship, and they fight so often that it’s a joke among those that know them, all without Bud saying, “That’s Lindsey on the radio, my soon-to-be-ex-wife.” So subtle and so powerful, I actually paused the movie and mentioned my thoughts to my husband.

I think I’m going to try and benefit from James Cameron’s experience on this one. Next time I want to pass along a tidbit of information a character should already know, I’m going to try my best to disguise it the same way.

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Good News, Everyone!

Two pieces of news have me pretty keyed up today.

Awesome News, The First – I’m finally finished with the edits for Elements of Rebellion. Phew. That one was tough, much harder for me than Broods was. I’d finished writing it before Broods, and the writing was much less polished so it needed a lot of work. Seems like we’re still on track for a spring release.

Awesome News, The Second – I’ve been working for a few weeks now on a top secret project. Five writers, myself and four others, have decided to each write a novel set in a collaborative world we’re building from the ground up. Collectively, the books will be called The Drifting Isle Chronicles. My own novel in the world is tentatively titled Songbird’s Lament. Here’s an interview with one of my collaborators giving a little more information on the project. We’ve got some really exciting things planned, and we’re just starting the process of writing now after a couple of weeks of brainstorming. I can tell you that there will be steampunk, magic, and a floating island. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

For those interested, here is the list of my co-conspirators:

Joseph Lewis

MeiLin Miranda

Charlotte English

Katherine Tomlinson

 

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With Love Valentine’s Day Blog Hop

I’m so happy to be taking part in the With Love Valentine’s Day Blog Hop. Check out the link for more than 250 giveaways in all shapes and sizes! This contest runs at all locations from today (2/11) through Tuesday (2/14).

For my part, I’m giving away five of any of my eBooks, Winner’s Choice. Enter using the Rafflecopter below before midnight on Valentine’s Day EST.

As a Valentine’s Day treat, go pick up Chance Encounter for free on Amazon on 2/14 only.

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