I binge-read four books yesterday. I don’t think I’m going to post the names, despite the fact that I binge-read them (and paid for them, albeit at .99 each) because I want to write about how terrible they were.
The characters were implausible, often stupid, cliche and inconsistent. Wait, not just the characters–the books were inconsistent. In one scene a character knows nothing, in another she wins a trivia contest on the stuff she knew nothing about. A dollar amount changed randomly within a book and from book to book. The plots were ridiculously unlikely, in all sorts of ways and not always for obvious reasons. Sometimes, sure, I can see that it was just easier to do a little hand-wavium about some plot point that wasn’t important to the story, but other times, I found myself trying to decipher the reasoning behind an authorial decision.
And yet the books were fun to read.
This is seriously a lesson I need to learn. I spend so much time dwelling on minute details. Why would this character be in this place at this time? What’s his reasoning behind this choice? Wouldn’t he have eaten breakfast earlier? Why did he skip breakfast? How does skipping breakfast make him feel? Okay, maybe he needs to have breakfast earlier but in that case, why is the proprietor of the B&B not there? Wouldn’t there be other guests? If it’s just the two of them in the room, then wouldn’t he ask his questions? Okay, he can’t have breakfast then… so back to the why has he missed breakfast?
And yet, who will care? Who will notice? No one sits around in the middle of a story wondering why the characters haven’t needed to hit up a restroom in hours or why they aren’t dead of dehydration after their desperate trek through the forest running away from the bad guys. If the reader has time to wonder that kind of thing, the story isn’t doing its job.
I’ve been stuck for days on Grace, not making any progress at all. Part of that is just me. Holidays, the blues, not feeling well, wrapped up mentally in stupid stuff like the kitchen repairs, health insurance and finances… But part of it is that I’m getting stuck on the stupid stuff, on the need for absolute accuracy in who hears what when instead of flowing with the story. One good romantic conversation simmering with unrequited sexual tension is worth twenty pages of precision mapping and timelines in an actual story.
I don’t regret my binge-reading. The books were fun. And if the sixth book in the series had been available, I probably would have bought it and binge-read it, too. But I hope that what I get out of it is not just the few hours of fun, but some motivation to loosen up on my own writing, to relax and let the words take me places instead of tying me in knots.
Off I go to write.