You lost me.

I LOVE my library’s online audiobook program.  I just wish they had MORE.  For the most part, everything you want to read is wait-listed.  Today I found myself without a book to listen to while I worked on my sewing stuff, and so I browse the available titles in Romance.

Of course, when the website says Romance, they really mean Women’s Fiction, and so there’s always the possibility that I will unwittingly stumble upon the dreaded Chick Lit which…just don’t get me started.  If you love it, great for you.  It’s not what I enjoy reading and I’d like to a clear indication up-front if something’s going to be romance or some meandering heroine’s journey with a romance on the side.

So anyway, to try to make myself try new authors, when I don’t have any waitlisted reads that have become available, I choose something I’ve never heard of from the available titles and do my best to read it.  My Chick-Lit sensor started blaring as I read the description, but I really needed to just choose something and get on with my work, so I stopped dithering and downloaded.  After all, maybe I’d be pleasantly surprised.

This book starts out with a prologue about a young girl having a traumatic experience.  From there, Chapter 1 says Five Years Later, and starts with the heroine on an airplane.  The heroine is obviously not the girl.  No connection with the girl or the prologue scene is obvious.  What is this story about?

Fully half an hour into the reading, I still don’t know.  I’m JUST finding out where the plane is going, and once the heroine lands and continues her journey to the spot where she’s headed (for no concrete reason) the author finally gets around to the general and not great reason why the heroine has chosen this place she’s going for R&R.  What does the heroine want?  I still don’t know.  And because I don’t know–I don’t care.  I don’t care about the several year history of the relationship she was in with the guy she wasn’t really into, and I don’t really care about her career.

What I do care about is that I can’t go through another 13 hours of listening to this, even if it’s just playing in the background while I work.  And I think that says something about my tolerance–or intolerance–for absolutely killing a beginning with backstory and not letting the reader in on even a hint of what this story is going to be about.

It’s like talking to one of those people who wants to babble on incessantly to hear themselves speak, but really has nothing to say, only you don’t realize it until it would be impolite to just walk away in mid-sentence.  And it’s also kind of like talking to one of those people who wants to play I’ve got a secret! and wants you to beg to be let in on it.

I don’t have to be grabbed by throat in the first line, but please don’t expect me to take it on faith for half an hour that at some point this really will be a story and not a backstory.

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6 Comments

Filed under what not to do

6 responses to “You lost me.

  1. Do you ever wonder if the fact that we’re writers has really impacted our ability to just enjoy a book as is without trying to analyze it? I keep thinking of everything I read “oh s/he shouldn’t have done that” or “that could have been done better”. Particularly as I learn more about craft. After reading GMC and all of Alex Sokoloff’s posts on the three act structure and all this stuff on urgency, I have a similar lack of tolerance for this kind of meandering beginning.

  2. I think that’s true of something things in my reading, but I have always been irritated by a story going nowhere. There are some authors who pull it off by having something to keep me reading–a great voice, an exceptionally interesting character, a prologue that promised a fascinating answer later on…this had none of those things.

  3. P.S. You should know I’ve always had a problem with this in particular because who’s the one always saying: where are you going with this? how does this advance the story? etc.

  4. 🙂 I think I used to have a lot more tolerance for a slow build up. I also used to have a lot more time to read in general. Not so much anymore. I want my valuable time to get something worthwhile and long meandering anythings aren’t it anymore. Which is probably why I rarely read those epic fantasy type stories (though I love watching them in movie or TV form).

  5. I also know I’m more likely to “excuse” slow starts in older books. Sometimes I check the copyright and if it’s an 80’s book then I’ll brace for more flowery language and hope for the best that it will pick up.

    But this book was fairly recent and it seems like everyone’s supposed to know now that it’s all short-attention-span theater out there. I’m sorry, you have an average length of the span between commercials to grab my attention. It’s the way I was trained.

    The meandering is also something to I tend see as another common Chick-Lit trait. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Yadda yadda yadda.

  6. Pingback: I Was A Copy Editor In A Past Life | Murder & Magnolias

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