Have you ever picked up a novel, read it, and concluded that it wasn’t a big deal, too long, overdone, and with little meat? I have done it often and will definitely put up with it again. I have read more than a few short stories that have been stuffed and published as novels or even full novels. Maybe I have what Hemingway called a “built in shit detector” since I can instinctively feel this padding. It has become a rarity that irritates me.
I recently read, on Kindle, a novel in the crime thriller genre. Though competently written, it was filled with unnecessary scenes, subplots, dinner table dialogue, descriptions, and comments on the dishes being served. A good and serious editor would have eliminated this excess baggage and reduced it to the story that it really was.
Is this inflation done by accident or by design? I’d say both, but most of the time by accident. I’m sure a lot of writers just get carried away by his brilliance and feel that he simply I have to put all this in; them I love it, so why won’t the reader? I feel it in myself, writing descriptive material that reads very well, but does not advance an iota in the story and even obstructs things. It is the job of a content editor to bring us back to earth. But what if we like to be up there and we don’t want to go down? In this age of digital desktop publishing this is a problem, right? We go ahead and post.
Many writers in this Kindle age reject being viewed by publishers as outsiders trying to destroy the purity of their ideas and narrative flow. Why pay someone to reduce your work to tapes and transform your story into theirs? And today those writers are free to reject all editorial restrictions and publish. A publisher would exercise control over this stupidity and employ its in-house editors.
On the other hand, I’ve heard from editors who encourage writers to “augment” their work in the following order: “It’s good, but it’s a little thin. Can’t you fill it in a bit? Add some scenes, more characters.” I think it’s wrong.
One of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Tips for Writers is: “Always skip the parts that people tend to skip and don’t read. “I find good advice. And with it in mind, I try to apply strict self-discipline.
It is important for writers to recognize who they are and what they are capable of. And a writer who knows his limitations has a powerful asset. Few writers could take seriously a War and peace. It took genius to produce David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol; but, like Tolstoy, Dickens was a genius. These writers are rare in the field.
Aside from the ability to write well and tell a story, a fiction writer must have a good imagination. You should be able to weigh the idea of a story for what it’s worth. What could be an excellent short story can turn out to be a bad novel that requires filler to make weight. But it won’t punch His weight.
A recent tale of mine created a minor sensation when I posted it on a website in Thailand. I got emails suggesting that I turn it into a novel. I seriously thought about it. I could do it, but it wouldn’t be the same story anymore and that’s why I rejected the idea. It is a short story and it will continue to be so.
Some writers are destined for short stories. Jack London, always one of my favorite authors, was one of them. Jack was a great writer, but he never wrote a great novel. However, l did write a great novel: The call of nature, a literary triumph that is never out of print and that has been filmed many times. Yet it is his magnificent tales, the tales of the Yukon Gold Rush and the South Pacific Islands, that he will be remembered for. His short piece: To light a fire has been voted the best short story of all time. But try to find his novels.
The independent revolution led by Kindle that ended the injustices of the dictatorship of the old publisher has no stronger supporter than I do. But hasn’t the pendulum swung too much? Because it also has its downsides; he is totally undisciplined. Now anyone can post anything. And they do.
Meet Priscilla Anne Case, 22, who works the Costco checkout line in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She has never written anything but an email, but she is about to write a paranormal and romantic saga, replete with vampires and neo-Nazi white supremacists, in the form of a two thousand word trilogy, tearing the bodice. You can even publish each book in a four-part box. Do it, girl, ain’t nothin ‘stopping you
An old saying goes that if you take a hundred thousand chimpanzees, give each one an easel, a canvas and a palette of paints, in a year you will get a Rembrandt. In the indie world it seems that we are still waiting for our literary Rembrandts. But wait. Maybe they are there; Beautiful and superbly written books in all genres, waiting to be found, hidden beneath the surface of that sad sea of bloated mediocrity that is Amazon’s sleet pile.
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