Friday, August 13, 2010

Books -- Day 7 -- least favorite plot device

Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise

I think of beach reading stuff when I contemplate this question...

I think it's probably when the fairly plain Jane protagonist meets the hot, well-built guy who everyone is dying to date, and she knows that he won't even notice her, but wait! Wrong. He not only notices her but sweeps her off her feet, causing her to wonder what he could POSSIBLY see in her when there are all these anorexic-troll types with great streaked manes of hair (and barbed tongues but not much brain) to choose from.

And then it turns out that he was looking for substance, not looks, all along (although she is always prettier than she thinks she is, and he convinces her of that), and they live happily ever after.

Trite. Blecky drivel.

I know there are probably several specimens in my library, but I'm not going to search for them just to name titles. I've also given most of them away after one read since I know I'll never go back to that book again. But sometimes they're just so comforting, so easy to read, quick and escapist that I'll do it again. Sometimes the rest of the writing makes up for the trite storyline.

Now. This question doesn't really address an author's style, nor does any other question in this meme, so I'm going to talk about it here.

For years as a 20-30 something I read Danielle Steel's books, although I became aware of how formulaic they are (as is Nora Roberts, really, but I'm still enjoying Roberts mostly).

But what has completely ruined Steel's books for me is her use of the ellipsis (...) as a device to show passage of time, to indicate unspoken but directed emotion or action. I hate it. I don't read her anymore because of that.

Recently I picked up one of her books lent to me by a friend, "IMPossible." There is not a line of dialogue in the first 14 pages: it is all backstory. And then most of the first two chapters have maybe 30-40 lines of dialogue, the rest is narrative.

And then I put it down, not to pick it up again. BORING! I'd forgotten how much narrative she writes rather than reveal it in dialogue, or just not go into the whole thing.

I know, I know. I should be so successful! But I hope that if I ever do write a novel that my characters will be less trite, more authentic, and that I don't overuse the ellipsis (which I do use, a lot). I'm counting on you to tell me...

oops. Drat. There it was.

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