Tag Archives: Nancy Kress

5 Reasons Why Readers Give Up


by Lillian Csernica on July 9, 2018

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First, my apologies for the drop in the frequency of my posts. I’ve been having technical difficulties with both my laptop and daily life.

Keeping readers entertained and loyal is essential in today’s marketplace. I get a lot of free Kindle e-books thanks to BookBub. Given how much I read, I can plow through two or three novels a week depending on my schedule. Doing so has sharpened my sense of what will make me stop reading a book. Life is too short to read bad fiction. I have such a library built up on my Kindle there’s no reason to go on reading a book that can’t hold my interest.

These are the Five Storytelling Flaws that will make me give up on a story:

0f7398a5-6eed-4f57-b412-757fa49d8849Talking Heads — The dialogue might be witty. It might be well-crafted. If it doesn’t move the story forward, what’s the point? Dialogue can be a form of action, yes. If all you’ve got is characters having lengthy conversations, that’s going to try your reader’s patience and make them lose interest.

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Redshirts — These are the minor characters who take a bullet for the hero or heroine. I once read a fantasy novel where the redshirt problem was so blatant it became more and more aggravating with every predictable death. The novel was clearly meant to be the first in a series. It did not surprise me to learn the sequel never saw the light of day.

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Low Stakes — The majority of mystery novels are about murder because the stakes don’t get any higher than life or death. The higher the stakes, the more the main character has to risk in order to solve the problem. More risk means tougher choices and that creates more reader sympathy. Make sure the stakes in your story are high enough to keep the reader turning pages.

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Too Much Thinking — This is the internal narrative equivalent of Talking Heads. Yes, the reader needs to know how the main character feels and what thought process leads to the next attempt to solve the story problem. Too much thinking means too little action. The pace of the story suffers and the reader will lose interest.

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Purple Prose — If the reader can tell the writer is trying to impress, then the writer is trying too hard. This results in convoluted syntax that breaks the suspension of disbelief and makes the reader aware of the act of reading. I must confess that I do walk a fine line when I’m writing romance. Purple prose is very nearly one of the protocols of the genre. Keep it simple. Clarity and precision are your friends.

For more tips on avoiding these mistakes, I recommend reading:

How to Write A Damn Good Novel series by James N. Frey

Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress

Revision by Kit Reed

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

 

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Filed under creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, Lillian Csernica, publication, research, romance, science fiction, steampunk, sword and sorcery, Writing

Three of A Kind


by Lillian Csernica on May 20, 2013

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 Today I play catch-up.  I spent the weekend at the San Jose Hilton where the 48th Annual Nebula Awards were held.  For those who don’t know, this is the annual award ceremony held by SFWA.  I am an Active Member, so it was a great pleasure to join my colleagues and hang out with some of the Big Names.  Came home with a brand-new SFWA tote bag (I am notorious in the family for acquiring tote bags) that was stuffed full of great science fiction and fantasy novels.  Now that’s my idea of some nice party favors!

 

Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

When I was five years old, my family lived in a three bedroom house not far from where I’d eventually go to kindergarten and elementary school.  We had not one but two back yards.  The first back yard had a big patio and then a grassy lawn with orange and lemon trees.  The second back yard was an empty dirt lot.  My father grew up on a farm in Ohio, so he knew how to turn that ground into a vegetable garden.  I remember being out there with Daddy, wearing sandals and a hat and sun glasses with a little summer dress.  I was carrying a plastic sand pail with the seed packages in it.  We’d move along the furrow with Daddy using a hand trowel to make deeper holes for the seeds, then I’d drop a seed into the hole.  The garden hose was involved at some point in this process, wetting the ground where we planted the seeds.  Spending time with Daddy on the weekends was special, because he worked the swing of graveyard shifts and slept during the day.  I never did get to know much about Daddy’s childhood, but this was like seeing some of what he did on Grandma’s farm.

I don’t remember much about weeding or harvesting the vegetables, but I do remember my mother sitting and the dinner table with a big bowl of peas in the pod.   She’d call me to help her shell the peas.   I had small hands, but that just made me faster than Mom.  I had to be careful, though, because if I slipped peas went bouncing everywhere.  There were other times when we’d be shucking ears of corn or snapping beans or peeling cucumbers.  Mom gave me cooking lessons when I was little, so growing our own vegetables and doing all the work to prepare them made cooking and eating them a lot more meaningful.  My sister had this nasty ability to make corn kernels squirt across the table at me.  She never got caught, either.

 

Day 19: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.

Janice Heck: My Time to Write

Janice’s blog is a lot of fun.  Great nature photos, fun stories about her family, and always a final word from her cat.  The header with the maneki neko collection is pretty cool too.

Kristin Lamb’s Blog

Strong writing, well-informed opinions, inspirational commentary on the writing life.  My idea of what a mentor should be.

Three’s A Herd

It’s comforting to listen to the ups and downs of another mother who has more than one child with special needs.  Running such a household is more than just “a challenge.”  It’s a balancing act involving logistics, time management, awareness and support of various people’s various needs, and never losing sight of one’s own well-being.

Hunter’s Writing

A fabulous treasure trove of writing resources.  Easy on the eyes, full of items that make you want to stay a while.

Ruralspaceman

This fine gentleman’s tales of life in his household are told in such a wonderful, whimsical style.  I highly recommend the entry about the family dinner, rendered as the agenda of a meeting.

 

Day 20: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.

 I’m trying to give up drinking Dr. Pepper and/or Coke.  Too much sugar, caffeine, carbolic acid, sodium, and chemicals.  This is very difficult, because we’re heading into hot weather and I have a terrible sweet tooth.  Also, I tend to eat spicy food, so if I don’t have some fizzy beverage, I end up feeling like an inflated balloon.  New York Seltzer is great, but I can’t find it anymore.  Hansen’s is all right, but I have trouble getting Mandarin Lime.  I can’t stand Cherry or Kiwi Strawberry.   There’s also a certain somatic component, like the one involved in smoking.  Sometimes it’s just nice to have the cold can and take that swig every so often.  The habit itself is no big deal as long as I find a replacement that gives me the fizz without the unwanted ingredients.

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Filed under Blog challenges, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Writing