Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Worst Book EVER

You know I rarely give bad reviews. I respect the work of the author—however misled he/she might have been—too much to publicly defile it. I know what it takes to write 70,000 words. I know they can’t all be jewels. But O.M.G. I have just read the worst book ever written…

And it was mine.

The heroine was so stupid I wanted to slap her. Get a life, already! Are you supposed to be real, or did you just step out of a Marvel comic? Ever heard of a little thing called backbone?? Grow a set, already!

The hero at least had two dimensions: flat, and flatter. Excuse me, even actors need motivation. Do you have any background whatsoever or did you spring full grown, Glock in hand, from the mind of a singularly demented writer? Are we supposed to believe that dialogue? Give me a break!

And the plot! Don’t get me started. First of all, can we say Paranoid Delusional? And pul-eeze, it’s the freakin’ 21st century. Ever heard of a little thing called CSI? Not that hard to solve a crime, cupcake. Just pay attention.

I tell you, I had my finger on the delete button. I have never been so close to pushing it. And yet…

It was kind of an intriguing premise. There were parts of the story that really left me breathless. Surely there was something worth saving . There had to be a way to tell this story that was gripping, heart-rending, contemporary, and didn’t make me want to track down the protagonists, wherever they might be in happily-ever-after land, and do a Charlie Manson.

Two weeks of sleepless nights later, I came back to the manuscript with a fresh eye. And I saw immediately that what it needed was a unifying motif. Three paragraphs. Done. And as for Ms.Too-Stupid-To-Live Heroine, there really was only one character flaw that was making me crazy. Global search and replace; delete. Done. Hey, I kind of like her now. She’s okay. In fact, I want her to live; not just live, but triumph. I’m pulling for you, baby. You can do it. I believe in you! And the hero—well, he really was only doing the best he could, given his leading lady. A nip here, a tuck there—voila. All right, then: sturdy, reliable, tender, courage under fire and a little bit sexy too--that’s what I call a hero. Done. As for the plot—well, what do you know? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Turns out that when the characters are in order, their motivations are clear and the sympathies of the reader are engaged, the story just naturally falls into place. I could hardly believe my eyes. I was looking at a story I could be proud of. One of the best I’d ever written in fact. Done and done.

The moral of the story is: nothing is beyond redemption. With skill and patience, you can uncover the passion beneath even the clumsiest effort, but don’t you dare stop until you do. There are readers out there expecting your best. Your job is not to give up until you deliver it to them.

And the title of the masterpiece that inspired this discovery for me? Well, I don’t think I’ll tell you that right now. But get ready for a treat. It’s really, really good.

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