Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hollow Writing


I'm not going to tell you. I won't. No matter what.

Huh?

See, I've read two thoroughly hyped, new, YA thrillers recently and was extremely under-whelmed. As in, I had to force myself to not abandon. The book titles will remain anonymous because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

But I feel compelled to share my opinion of why the books fell flat for me. As I read I never connected with the characters or their plights. I turned page after page hoping to be delighted or thrilled or feel something...anything for these people. And then it dawned on me. The "people" were not fully formed. Their dialogue felt hollow and empty and unauthentic. I could actually hear the writer talking.

I don't know about you, but unless I'm reading non-fiction, I want the author to be quiet. I want the richness of the characters to grab me and not let me go. I want to get inside the characters' heads and muck around a bit...feel what they're feeling...experience their woes and joys because they're so real to me and I care about them.

With both of those books I couldn't do any of that. I repeatedly got distracted by the empty dialogue.

After finishing the second book I felt a burst of inspiration, and I dove head first into my novel, The End of Normal, and spent two entire days ripping it apart. Again. I wrote this book (my first) back in 2008 and took it through nineteen formal revisions. But now, after knowing what I DON'T want it to read like I'm back inside my pages, reacquainting with my people and my world. I don't want readers to ever feel like my MC isn't a real, flesh and blood sixth grade girl facing the most insane circumstances. And I never want them to feel like my dialogue is hokey or unauthentic.

I'd like to publicly thank the two yawn-tastic books for spurring me on and forcing me to re-tighten my own work.

*ADDED NOTE*
Any sleuths out there trying to figure out what books I'm talking about...just so you know...I didn't list the titles in my "Books I've Read Recently" list in my side bar. I'm far too slick for that (and too nice). The titles will be my secret.