I’ve been reading the novels of a bestselling author, trying to figure out the secret of her success, and for the life of me, I don’t see it. Perhaps it’s hidden beneath her appalling writing style, but most times her poor writing dims any possibility of my enlightenment.
Even a neophyte writer knows that any action a character undertakes must be motivated. Although in life we often act on a whim or a hunch, when a character in a novel does it, it comes across as too slick, too much author convenience, as if the writer couldn’t be bothered to take the time to come up with a plausible motive for the action.
For example, in one book, the writer has someone searching the character’s house for a set of papers, which weren’t there because the character had removed them on a hunch. You and I could never get away with that! We’d have to come up with a motive, and it’s not that difficult. The character could have taken the papers to a diner to peruse them during lunch. Or maybe taken them to a safe deposit box. Or any reason other than a hunch.
Even worse, when the character found out her house had been searched, she was stunned. Then why the hunch to remove the papers? Maybe she was expecting rats to eat them.
In a roundabout way, I suppose I did learn something: write intelligently.
At least until one becomes a bestselling author.