Why I Toss a Book

Sorry for the reposting. First I forgot the title. Then I read it over again. Not enough caffeine for me yet, so I tinkered. Probably still some writing errors on my own part here, but it's Monday. And I'm not yet awake.


Last week I pulled a book from my TBR stack. It's one by an author I hadn't read before even though she regularly makes bestseller lists. I was looking forward to the read because I thought I might learn something.

The story started off OK, even though there was a prologue. Prologues don't bother me as much as they do some people, but I'll admit to being a little surprised to find one. This one, from the antagonist's viewpoint, was tight and zippy, so I read right through it.

The first few pages of Chapter 1 were fine. Then there was a point-of-view shift from one paragraph to the next and back again. Just one paragraph in a different character's head, no section break, no nothing. Okay, I could forgive that, but I was surprised it wasn't caught.

Later in the first chapter, guess what showed up? A huge chunk of backstory, about five pages worth. I'm like what the hell? But the author has been around for many years and her fans love her. And this book was a couple years old. So I marked it as a perk we newbies can't yet enjoy.

I kept reading.

During the next few chapters there were more POV shifts. So I assumed this writer just writes that way and it's okay because she sells books. I might not prefer her style, but the story is good. And now that I knew how she wrote, I could overlook it as long as the story kept me enthralled.

The bombshell exploded yesterday afternoon.

I was sitting under my own personal tiki hut while the dogs played, looking forward to what was going to happen next in Book World. Sun was shining, light breeze was blowing. I started reading.

I didn't read far.

The setting was a crime scene. And it was all wrong. From the get to the go. Now I'm not a law enforcement officer or a forensics person. But I do research. A lot of research. Sometimes it might take me hours to learn what I need for just a portion of one sentence.

If this author did her research, she chose to ignore most of it. With no warning to the reader.

I closed the book. A minute or so later, I opened it again. I was just sitting there with nothing to do. The next thing I read was some narrative from the homicide detective. It didn't fit the character as we had known him up to that point. I closed the book again and it stayed closed. When I say the narrative didn't fit, it was disparate enough to shine in flashing neon lights. It was as if it had been written by a different person who hadn't read the first several pages of the novel.

When I came inside I threw the book into the 50-cent box for our upcoming garage sale. I'll sell it for less if asked.

Now if the writing had been clean - or at least cleaner - up to the point of the inaccuracies, I would have kept reading. The storyline was still good. And if I found another goof, I probably would have read more.

But it's the lumping together of all the problems that finally made me close the book and toss it.

Here's a list of the problems:

POV Shifts
Backstory - too much too soon
Technical Inaccuracies
Sloppy Characterization

And here's today's writing lesson:

Strive to be perfect. No one will be - we're all human. But the fewer errors you make, the better chance you have of being published.