Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Learning the hard way. . .

I've been reading a lot of novels lately trying to learn whatever I can from each author and each reading experience.

Trying at once to notice how authors handle certain situations while simultaneously trying to think like a reader again.

In an earlier post, I shared my aggravation at a novel that was mis-represented by the backcover copy. It ruined the experience for me, but I decided to give the author another shot. After all, that could have been a marketing decision or just an author buckling under the pressure to hype the novel. And, the novel itself wasn't that bad. This author is successful for a reason.

So, I did some research and ordered what is considered this particular author's best. From the moment I started reading it, I loved it. Well written, great characters, and an interesting "sort of" twist that I didn't see coming until late in the book. I couldn't wait to recommend this book to my friends and order the author's other works. Simply put - I couldn't put this book down. Until the end, when I actually threw it across the room. (I know. It surprised me, too.) I was actually angry.

I will never recommend this author to anyone, nor ever read him/her again.

What crime did the author commit? The main character did something completely against his character. (excuse the repetition) The character that had been developed throughout the novel would never have done what he eventually did. Now I know that people often do things against their nature, but this was not the time or place.

I believe the author did this in an attempt to achieve a more literary effect. The old "don't let everything end so nicely" routine. While I admire that when done well, here it is obviously forced. The same effect could have been achieved by other means. Having a protagonist lose something during his journey can give the story a richer depth than just having everything work out perfect. But here, the cost is too great. The particular character who suffers in this novel gains nothing from it, nor deserves it, nor did the author give any good reason for it - which may have helped.

As I have discovered through those who've read my novel, readers invest a lot of emotion in the characters. I vow to never do this to my future readers. (positive thinking)

I wish I could name the novel and the author, but I just wouldn't feel right doing so publicly. Sorry.


Nicole said...

You just described the perfect reading turn-off. The injustice of creating an aberration.
It just seems wrong to me to reinvent the character at the end.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

That's a good way of putting it, Nicole.

Of course, I'm assuming other readers will be just as dissapointed as I was. I could be wrong.

With that said, I really think the ending hurt sales via the word of mouth route.

Of course #2, the author has his/her perogative.