Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dropped stitches....

Okay - So I haven't really been reading Pale Demon for all this time (for those of you who actually pay attention to my "reading now" books - and yes, I'm still reading Fiction Writing for Dummies because it's on my daughter's Kindle and she won't give it up!).  The truth of the matter is that I really wanted to post something on Pale Demon because it has a great W Plot and gives a wonderful demonstration of hero's journey.  So I thought, I would post that "review" and take it down.  The truth is, I have read The Other Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost which I loved because the big bad guy was a sniveling loser just like UBL - I thought it rather apropos, and then I read a hand me down from my sister - A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands.

I think that it is important to have both positive examples and negative examples from which to learn.  I am a college professor and I routinely in class take student papers and shred them in front of the class.  We tear them apart, analyze them, figure out everything that is wrong with them, and then put them back together.  Now, this may seem heartless and cruel, but the truth is, I only do it for students that volunteer their papers for review, and I am never short of volunteers.  I sometimes have to have raffles to see who the lucky "winner" is that will get reemed in class.  And amazingly, the students consistently report that they learn more from ripping apart the bad examples, then from looking at the plethora of "good" examples that we, as educators give to them.

Why is this?  Well, the truth is, we are all making these same mistakes.  We can see what the good example is, and we see that our bad example doesn't match the good example, but we don't always know why.  So, I think that it's important to share with you some examples that I consider to be bad examples (not mine :D )

***********  SPOILER ALERT  ***************

So this brings me to Ms. Sands novel.  This was definitely not a keeper.  It was okay, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't great.  Kim Harrison is great.  Adrian Phoenix is great.  Jeaniene Frost is great.  Why? Because their characters are well developed, they have clear goals, and they have clear structure.  So why don't I put Ms. Sands on my keeper shelf?  Well, to begin with, the goals are not clearly developed.  It would seem that, at the beginning, the hero is trying to get to his vacation spot (Cancun, I believe), and the heroine is trying to cure her phobia.  So far, so good.  We have some clear cut goals.  But then after a while, the hero's (Dr. Hewitt) flight is cancelled, and apparently so is his goal. 

Oh, but wait - then he has to convince the heroine that she wants to spend the rest of forever with him.  But that *can't* be the goal because we can't have love as a primary goal in a romance (now I know why).  So basically, we have the rest of the book with the hero trying to get into the heroine's pants (or panties).  Then, we have the antagonist.  Some floundering misled priest who thinks the heroine is a vampire (which she is).  But all of his tests to see if she is a vampire, fail.  And yet he still pursues her - subtly and silently.  The conflict is practically absent. Plus, it's so obvious throughout the book who the antagonist is and what's going on and yet the heroine is totally oblivious to it - DUH!  He does everything but smack her in the face ... that is until the end when he points a gun at her and accuses her of being a vampire. 

Then, when all seems lost (rug pull here), her family swoops in and saves her and her vampire lover (did I tell you she turned him into a vampire?) with barely an explanation of how they found her, staked out on the porch of a house in the middle of nowhere.  And everyone lives happily ever after (except that her phobia isn't cured, Dr. Hewitt never gets to Cancun although he does convince her to marry him, and the priest's mind is wiped so he doesn't remember a thing - how convenient - and he goes on ministering to the poor). Ugh! 

So, if you are looking for a book with minimal character development, too much back story and exposition (did I forget to mention the chapter exhaustively explaining where vampires came from, why she is afraid of blood *and* marriage?), and a weak, soggy antagonist, then look no further.  This will explain to you in clear detail why you spend hours and hours pining away at that one last chapter, and developing your story, and making sure it flows.  I strongly recommend it as an example of what *not* to do. (Definitely NC17 rating)


Denise K. Rago said...

Thanks for the heads up on this one.

LinneaHall said...



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