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Thursday Reading FUNdamentals: Pick Up the Pace!

November 11, 2010

I’ve only had 4 views this month, so maybe I should get a blog entry going.  Try and stir the pot a bit.

Anyway, I was reading this book and my main problem with it (besides that I really don’t care about vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, which would make you wonder why I read it in the first place…) was that it was too slow.  A lot of it felt to me like the author was so busy setting up the series that she neglected to make the first one interesting enough to really hook me.

Then I had one of those moments of clarity where, I said, “Hey, aren’t you doing the same thing with the Ultimate Extended Collector’s Director’s Cut Edition of this?”  To which I say as always, “Yes, but that’s ME!”  Every rule should come with an asterisk exempting me from it unless I feel like obeying it.

Anyone who ever tried to read that Ultimate Extended Collector’s Director’s Cut Edition would probably be bored to tears.  Why?  Because it’s a superhero story where we don’t introduce the hero until nearly 200 pages in!  And we don’t introduce the villain until about 175 pages in!

So what’s going on in those first 175 pages?  A lot of setting things up.  Introducing our hero, her friend, her boyfriend, the cop who helps her out, and the dude who becomes the villain.  Which except for the villain (SPOILER:  he dies!) all of them appear in the seven sequels and a couple appear in the one prequel as well.  Which actually makes this like writing a prequel because I’m trying to reconcile this with everything that comes after it.

Anyway, the point is that I’m dragging things out much too slowly for this to have any commercial appeal.  Because in commercial fiction, you have to just assume the readers are going to have ADHD and want everything happening right away.  That’s why they say you need to start quickly, because the agents and editors are going to read five pages at most and you better not waste their time detailing how your main character is taking a shower and making a bowl of Special K for breakfast–unless you’re writing something “literary” in which case it might be less annoying for the reader.  Though actually I would still find that annoying unless there’s some significance to her eating Special K.

My excuse is that because this is the Ultimate Extended Collector’s Director’s Cut Edition I want to go in depth and flesh everything out.  If I ever wanted to do a commercial version I would probably cut most of the first five chapters at least.  Then it would more closely resemble this, which cuts to the nitty gritty as my mom would say.  Unfortunately cutting to the nitty gritty leaves you with shallow characters.  But who cares, it’s a superhero story not freaking Tolstoy, right?

Though it should be obvious that I’m not a commercial writer (have you seen the Amazon sales rank for my book?  It’s pretty rank all right.) I’m just saying that if you’re going to write a series, don’t get so tied up with planning for the future that you neglect the present.  The first book has to stand on its own or no one’s going to want to make a sequel.  Think of books like the first Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or movies like the original “Star Wars” that while they created franchises, were also enjoyable on their own.  So the same principles apply as if you were writing just one book:  don’t bore the reader with a lot of tedious stuff about what the hero is wearing or eating and so forth.  Oh yeah, and don’t have part of the hero’s main dilemma solved off the pages by another character.

That is all.


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