I don’t think I’ve been properly frustrated by a novel in a good while. This one did it. It literally changed my demeanor for a good solid day.
First off, the reason I was reading this book was by the advice of the legendary literary agent, Albert Zuckerman, in his book Writing the Blockbuster Novel. It’s a good insight on what the agents, editors, and publishers are looking for in a novel and what they are not.
I usually read non-fiction and the fiction I’ve read is anything from Beowulf to Mark Twain to Tom Clancy to Michael Crichton. Ken Follett has a huge following of his own, but I’ve never read historical fiction. Now, 30 years later, most anything by Tom Clancy would be absolutely considered historical fiction, but at the time it was the Thriller genre, because he was writing in current political environments, not historical. It was simply military thriller scenarios that could have realistically played out in real time, but not so much now.
Like I wrote earlier, somewhere in the 2013-2014 range, I wrote a whopping 10,000 word chapter. Whopping, because a chapter should be bite size; the 1,200-2000 words range is plenty. This week, I had some down time. I decided to shred it.
I still like my characters. I still like the “situation” in which they have found themselves, but it was atrocious. Shawn Coyne was exactly right, the more you read the more you grow. As much as I like what I wrote in 2014, the more I now think it was total garbage on several fronts.
The protagonist was essentially bullet proof. He simply didn’t have problems and everybody liked him. Who is going to care about that? I would have hated the guy if I knew him.