I have only been a writer for a year, but I have been an avid reader for five years now. I have read over 400 books in that time. Of the 400+ books, I have only put 2 or 3 down unfinished for one reason or another. (don’t ask which ones, I couldn’t tell you) The rest of the books I have thoroughly enjoyed. Books of almost all genres – romance, historical, contemporary, mystery & suspense, supernatural, Amish, and what I call “faith-based self-help”. I have learned about different cultures and countries through some of these great books. I have discovered new writers that are not in the mainstream and found that some of them were better than the most popular writers out there. I have never lost the joy in reading, but now that I am a writer and watch reviews of my own work and those of others, I am thinking that many have lost that joy.
Why So Serious?
I am beginning to wonder if some readers have become “career readers” and have lost the simple joy in reading a story. Every detail must be precise and all editing must be perfect. They have become over critical of stories and are easily frustrated with the hard work writers put into these stories. There is no room for error in fiction in some readers eyes and they have no problem letting people know how “bad” they find a story that may very well tell a beautiful story. Fiction is just that, fiction. Sometimes it is a little unbelievable, like movies, but the story was written in a way to entertain you, not be a reality. I think we live in too much reality nowadays.
At the risk of putting a bruise to my pride, I am going to share with you a review for one of my books. It is a one-star review and though I respect the reviewer, it proves a point. Now, yes, my second book had some silly issues and I was completely embarrassed by these issues. I try my best to provide a book that is clear of issues like this so that you can just enjoy the story. (The Kindle version of Finding Hope in Savannah has been updated as of 1-1-16. Please be sure you turn on the “Auto Update” feature on your Kindle.) *** I do not post this as a rebuttal, a way to point out the negativity of this review, or as a way to prove myself in the right, rather make note of my observations. If anything, a review like this helped me see a problem that I had not realized was there.
The plot is truly unbelievable: Liz is the only witness to her boyfriend holding the ‘smoking gun’ over a man he’d just killed. So what are witnesses to murder required to do? Appear in court to testifiy perhaps? Not in this piece of fiction. A sympathetic cop and his wife help spirit Liz and her son out of Boston, while doing more unbelievable things with Liz’ bank account, their spare car etc. And Liz has No Idea that she’s been shacked up with an Irish Mafia hit man for 3 years. Clueless? Wait until you get to the part where the hit man, who is released from jail (perhaps because there was no witness???) miraculously finds out where Liz is hiding. Now, Liz and her son left immediately after talking to police but somehow there is a supposed informant who’s been onto them from day one. The story goes on and on in a similary scattered and unrealistic fashion. The lack of proper grammar and spelling just nails the whole thing shut.
This reviewer is completely right, there are holes in the story line. I did it that way for a reason, so you can get to the heart of the story. I didn’t write this to be some great mystery though Kindle automatically set it that way. (I can’t change it, I tried). I didn’t write it for the crime value. I wrote it for the redemption story.
A deeper meaning
Like so many other writers, especially ones who write Christian fiction, I write to encourage in your faith. To show you a deeper meaning in our walk. In this story’s case, to show the reader that God is with you no matter the fact that maybe you have turned your back to Him and that He is waiting for your return with open arms. I also write to entertain and maybe give you a break for the mayhem of your day to day. I do not write to educate you in the things of this world but on the things of God.
Find your joy
Have you found yourself reading with a critical eye? Are you nit-picking on things so much that you miss the core of a story? Are you overly irritated with simple things like the use of the same phrase by many different authors? Are you finding yourself putting a book down because you can’t stand something? Or are you not reading a book because it is by a “new to you” author and you doubt how good it will be?
Then maybe you might want to take a step back from reading for a bit, or try to not read with such a critical eye. Read it a book like you would watch a movie. Maybe there is a deeper reason you are so critical and some time in prayer is called for.
I don’t know the reasons, and I am not going to pretend too. I do encourage you to take a minute to reflect on things, though. I know most people do not do things to been mean but come across that way because of a reason they are not even aware of. I also know that some use the internet to be a wicked as they want because they can hide behind false names and I.D.s. Just remember a human being, one with flaws, has put their heart and soul into the work you just blasted. Please try to take into consideration that your words can either crush a career or build them up.