Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Sunday, April 14, 2013
  Show me your pile

Mario here:


What I'm reading: Cape Fear by John D. MacDonald.










I speak to a lot of newbeis about writing. Mostly about craft. Some about storytelling. We have discussions about technique versus craft. What I've learned is that there is no one way to tell a story. Some people get hidebound over style and throw ugly conniptions about POV shifts and exposition as if these were the most foul of human trespasses. I've come to appreciate there is a difference between writing and storytelling. Some authors are very good writers yet mediocre storytellers, and as a result, in a novel, they lose their readers. Other authors are fantastic storytellers yet middling writers. Their prose doesn't dazzle. But roll out a good story and readers will overlook a lot.

One drawback to being a writer is that I've had to retrain myself as reader. It was too easy to read a book through my critiquer goggles and get so nit picky that I missed the richness of the story. This doesn't mean I finish every book that I start. If I put a book down, it's seldom because of style but because the story lacks coherence (i.e., a plot).

One bit of advice hasn't changed in my years as a writing instructor. And that is: Read. A lot.
Read bunches in your genre and bunches out of your genre. I'm amazed when I asked a wannbe to list their favorite books and they reply that they're too busy to read. Or they want to pen a (fill-in-the-blank--mystery, thriller, historical) and haven't bothered to read one. Last year I challenged myself to read a book a week and so far, I'm on the money. Here is my TBR pile, in no particular order that the books will be consumed. Four are nonfiction, the rest novels.


If life was truly fair, then local writer Manuel Ramos would be in the end caps at Costco with Michael Connelly and CJ Box. The Denver Post gives Ramos a bit of his due in this chingaton review of Desperado.

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Comments:
Great point, Mario. Sometimes I think being "too much" the writer can take the fun out of being a reader! :-]
 
Wow-- do I dare say it? I agree with everything you said in this post! The sad reality is that writing takes up so much of my time that I don't read as much as I should. I have a TBR pile like yours that grows every week. I guess that's one reason I volunteer to be a judge for Horror Writers each year. It FORCES me to read.

Good post, my friend!
 
Good points, Mario.
If I could sit down with every reader of my first pubbed book to find out where they stopped reading, why (plot, pace, paragraphing--what?), and somehow learn where it's weakest, I would.
Failing that, since I'm working on a YA, I read a couple a week. The Newbery Medal and Hugo award winners to learn why readers liked those. I avoid best-seller Costco end caps 'cause those are monopoly-driven and padded for the pay-per-word.
Yeah, and I read gnarly sites like yours.
RudyG
 
Frank: reading fiction should be entertaining. Thanks for the comment.
Jeanne: You agree with me? Check your calendar. April Fools is over.
Rudy: It's tough to isolate the elements of what makes a good book "good." I look forward to your YA.
 
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