Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Makes You Not Finish a Book?

I’m a writer, so I totally get the months and even years of absolute WORK that goes into making a novel. All the plotting, revising, shaping, and polishing. Not to mention the arduous process of becoming published. Therefore, I try to give books a chance…to read through the sometimes slower parts, to forgive inconsistencies and shrug off odd plot tangents.

I read for pleasure as well as for research in my genre. Yet my time is finite. As benevolent and lenient as I try to be, there are still some books that I find myself giving up on. I relegate them to the “DNF” (did not finish) realms. Why do people give up on books?

1. Slow-paced, uninteresting. This is certainly in the eye of the beholder, as what is fascinating to one person may be highly entertaining to another. But some novels are more inherently gripping than others, with more tension, conflict, and quicker pacing.
2. Violence. I recently read half of an adult novel before giving up on it for its constant and graphic violence. It’s just not my thing. I’m (old and) impressionable, and images stick with me forever. I don’t really want to get desensitized, either.
3. Sex or extreme sensuality. Not my thing, either. I prefer fade to black, where the action and details occur off-scene. That’s partly why I read mostly YA rather than adult novels.
4. Character actions/motivations. If the main character is constantly doing stupid things, it gets old fast. Sure, he or she can make mistakes, but I want the character to learn from those mistakes and not do them over and over. I also don’t want the whole plot to be able to be cleared up by one conversation or act, but the MC won’t do it for flimsy reasons.
5. Love triangles. Some people hate these to the point of loathing. I don’t mind so much if the characters aren’t shallow, and if they are attracted to each other more than by appearance (the “oh-he’s-so-HOT” syndrome).
6. Cliché plots, no surprises. I don’t want to feel I’ve read something before. Like it’s the same plot as another book or movie, except with interchangeable characters. And who doesn’t like a good twist, where you think, “Whoa! I never saw that coming.”
7. Too much description. Some people adore description, particularly lovers of high fantasy. For me, I want a quick snapshot, a pertinent paragraph at most of something to set a scene or mood. My mind wanders otherwise, or else I start skimming.

Have you ever NOT finished a book? 
Which of these things above made you not finish a book? Were there other reasons?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What Are Style Sheets?

BEE organized--use a style sheet!
I like to be organized, but to be honest, I don’t always have a full-blown style sheet for my novels. However, with my latest sci-fi I’m writing, I found it helpful to make one for consistency’s sake.

A style sheet is basically a glossary of terms used for a piece of writing, usually a novel. Open up a document, type in the words (in categories if you like), and save them. It’s that simple. Or use an Excel spreadsheet to have columns to keep track of things pertinent to each character or geographic location.

1. It often makes a copyeditor’s job easier; he or she will love you if you have everything organized into one document.
2. It helps you keep track of your worldbuilding—especially if you write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, etc). Majorly helpful if your world is complex or extensive.
3. It helps you be CONSISTENT. After you nail down the spelling and words/expressions you want, you can do a search in the manuscript to check for consistency. Did you hyphenate a certain word—or use it as a compound word?
4. To make sure all your characters don’t sound alike, so they speak uniquely. Some characters may not use contractions. Others may say “gonna” instead of “going to.”

1. Coined words unique to your setting
2. Slang particular to the book, setting, or each character
3. Unique spellings appearing in the manuscript, or ones not familiar to the reader.
4. Expressions one character says repeatedly that no other character says
5. Nicknames for certain characters and who uses those nicknames
6. Names or titles of geographic locations
7. Distinct vocabulary for each character, depending on their education or background
8. Historical backgrounds and settings if you’re writing historical fiction
9. Magical incantations, spells, and rules
10. Your manuscript's particular symbolism and what each instance means. 

Do you use style sheets, and if so, do you find them helpful?
Do you think a style sheet would be good to use even for non-speculative fiction?