Hi, fellow readers and writers! And assorted peeps!
I’ve been on the road for a few days. When I travel, I take books. Actual paperbacks. OMG, like, I must be some kind of antique! Don’t worry, I also take my Kindle, but I generally have at least 1 paperback, usually 2. This time, I had 5, because I was going to be on the road for a few days.
Anyway, I had a couple of thrillers by a writer I enjoy reading, an urban fantasy by another writer I enjoy reading, and two novels by urban fantasy authors new to me. All of these paperbacks are published by mainstream houses, big imprints.
One of my writing colleagues says that when you read a novel and all of its parts are working as they should (plot, characterization, dialogue, narrative style), then you don’t stop reading. You flow with the text from beginning to end (maybe stopping to re-read something because it was really cool or really struck you). But if the parts aren’t working, you’ll know because it’s like hitting a pothole when you’re driving. Or coming to a traffic light where you sit for a while.
And that’s exactly what happened while reading one of the books by an urban fantasy author whose work I didn’t know.
The things that interrupt my reading flow are the dreaded “telling and not showing,” stilted dialogue, plot holes, and misspellings. Typos I can understand because I’m an editor, and I get that not everything will be caught. We do the best we can, but a few get through. I can forgive a typo here and there in a book. However, misspellings are another matter. An editor needs to know how to spell and which form of a word is correct. In one of these books, editors dropped the ball. In the other, they let a couple things slip through. Editing is, in some ways, an art. But like any art, it requires extensive knowledge of writing and grammatical mechanics. Editors need to be painstaking in their work. They need to be detail-oriented. And sometimes, that just doesn’t happen. Even at the big houses.