Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Two Novels Diverged on a Messy Desk

How is everyone’s April coming along? How are the A to Z bloggers and non-A to Z bloggers holding up? I’m still working on revisions and am moving slowly through RhyPiBoMo. It’s a good kind of slow, as I’m fascinated with all the things I can learn in the field of poetry, rhyme, and verse… Now, onto my post!

Recently, I began reading two novels at the same time. No names. I read the first few chapters of Book A. Then I began reading Book B. If Book B hooked me more than Book A, I was going to continue on with Book B. Book B hooked me a little, but Book A was a much better read. So I returned to Book A and finished it. 

Before I continue, I should add that my intent behind this post isn't to openly knock on an unidentified book or author, but for me to show an exercise I did where I reflected more carefully about my reading experiences so I can be a better writer.  

So here's what distinguished the beginning of the two books from each other:
-The language: Very pretty prose filled Book B. I imagined the author using a thesaurus to replace all the ordinary words with more sophisticated-sounding words to gloss up the language. (For the record, glossed up language doesn’t improve an undeveloped story.) While one could argue that the fancy word choice was intended to reflect voice, I found this particular pretty prose distracting me from the story itself. The language of Book A, on the other hand, was strong but easily melted away while I read, clearing the way for me to visualize the story past the dark print on the page.

-The characters: Both authors applied the character cookie cutter in some way. In Book A, the cookie cutter characters were not leading characters. They seemed to be there to establish the setting and perhaps connect the reader to the story. That worked for me. Yes, I know people like that from this environment.  In Book B, the leading characters seemed...a bit predictable. 

That said, now that I'm done with Book A, I might still give Book B another chance someday.

Side note...Admitting that Book A is commercial fiction and that Book B is considered literary might paint me as a shallow reader. But there are obviously such things as high-quality commercial fiction and mediocre literary fiction. Yet from my observations, I find that commercial fiction is often considered "guilty pleasure" reading while literary fiction is what people want to brag about liking, even if they found it tiresome to plow through certain parts. This time, I preferred the story of commercial fiction over the literary one. 

What book have you read where the print on the page melted away as you read? 
Would you be comfortable sharing you like a story of commercial fiction over a literary one?

9 comments:

Chrys Fey said...

I never heard of RhyPiBoMo before. Huh.

I don't think that makes you a shallow reader. We all like to read different things. I think commercial fiction can be more fun and engaging. Especially if you're looking for an easy read. Literary stories can sometimes be too much for leisurely reading.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never claimed to enjoy a book I didn't like. Not much for the literary fiction. Fancy words don't do it for me. I read - and write - Book A's.

Lynn Proctor said...

I am sure I have not enjoyed a literary success before--I know what you mean about the extra usage of flowery language-I tend to enjoy that more in poetry :)

Pat Hatt said...

The cat will say what he likes ad doesn't like without issue. Big words distract so much I find. As no one says them in real life like that. So why use so many?

John Wiswell said...

I got through my teens thanks in part to loving Michael Crichton and Stephen King. I have no problem confessing love of commercial fiction, but do worry when a fellow reader professes dislike of literary fiction. Litfic provides different engagement, often deeper ones, that I need as part of my mental diet. I alternate. Life's long enough to read both White Tiger and Dresden Files.

Elsie Amata said...

I love how you challenged yourself by doing this for your writing. I have to admit, when I first started writing, I used all the foo foo language and then when I read it back, I thought, "no one talks like that in real life" and I went back and took out all the 50 cent words.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Both genres have their place in the hearts of readers, but literary is my fav. In fact, I like the mainstream, popular stuff, but I don't think of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter often, I think of Grapes of Wrath, Winter Bones and books that I think speak to life.

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm not a fan of literary fiction, either. I go commercial, all the way!

Julie Dao said...

Maggie Stiefvater for me 100%. I consider her one of the strongest (if not THE strongest) writer in the YA field today. Not only are her stories remarkable, but her prose is the kind that frames and enhances the story rather than detracts from it. SCORPIO RACES is a prime example of this - have you read it? Her SHIVER series is also very beautifully written.

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