I was once told that I was probably brought up during the last era of great literary writers. The author friend who said that to me I feel was right. I was brought up on good literature where the characters were two dimensional and where we sometimes didn’t get that happy ending – what springs readily to mind here is Graham Greene’s novel, BRIGHTON ROCK and John Le Carre’s THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD.
One of my novels – FORBIDDEN LIAISON – didn’t have a happy ending and some comments I received were not that favourable, whereas, A LIFE ONCE HAD did have a happy ending and has received very favourable reviews. One of them being:
A good read. I almost felt I was a witness.
What praise indeed: I couldn’t have wished for any more words than that short-but-sweet phrase, because it told me the writing was vivid and leapt off the page.
I am finding more and more novels padded out to enhance the wordage. But prose padding doesn’t enhance a novel for me, it only makes it longer, and sometimes boring. If it is not relevant to the plot: story: or the characters, then it is superfluous. But even then, it should be kept to a minimum by perhaps drip-feeding information throughout the story.
A writer has to keep the reader interested, and if that interest wanes then the reader might give up half way through, and I have done this several times lately. But, instead of being annoyed that I bought the book in the first place, it has made me think carefully how I respond to the work, and I try to be objective when commenting. Roberts Harris’s ENIGMA I felt could have been pared down somewhat and I did comment so.
Is it the fact we spend a lot of money on novels from well-known authors and want to get our money’s worth? I personally would rather spend good money on a cracking good book that keeps me interested throughout, only then do I feel I have had my money’s worth.
The age of lengthy literature is perhaps dying out, but that does not mean, though, that we writers should not endeavour to turn out good, well-written novels that keep our readers wanting more.
Good book hunting.