Here’s a paragraph from a book I’m currently reading:
“Martinez had been standing under somber skies for what
seemed hours. He wore parade mourning dress, with cape and brocade and epaulets
and jackboots, and a tall black leather shako atop his head. Service colors
were reversed in mourning garb, so instead of green tunic and trousers with
silver buttons and braid, the tunic and trousers were the white of mourning,
with green collar, cuffs, braid buttons, and brocade. The cape was white and
lined with green, and weighted at the corners to preserve its line.”
The next paragraph is much the same. And this is on
page 150 of the book. This is well after you might expect some exciting things
to be happening. You would have been disappointed. I ‘almost’ put the book down after reading
this paragraph. I read it to Lana and we had a moment of head shaking over it.
My first thoughts upon reading this paragraph were:
1. Who the **** cares? : Not me.
2. What does this have to do with the storyline? : Nothing
3. Does it have anything to do with character building? :
Nothing. By this time the character is established.
4. Does it have anything to do with world building? : Perhaps a tiny bit but we already know by
page 150 what a stuffy and pretentious world this is anyway.
5. Is this deliberate padding because the writer wanted this
to be a trilogy (it is) and needed to increase the word count? : Because there’s
quite a bit of this sort of thing throughout the book, I’m certain of it.
Had this been the only such slow paragraph in the book I
wouldn’t really have been bothered. I probably wouldn’t even have noticed. But
this was just one of the more egregious examples. I actually like description,
but I like it to ‘go’ somewhere. I like it to at least have an impact on world
I will probably come off sounding sexist, but had I read
this paragraph cold, without any context, I would have suspected it was written
by a woman. It was not. (I can only wish the book had been written by Leigh
Brackett or C. L. Moore; we wouldn’t be 1 page into it without some heavy duty
coolness, much less 150 pages.) In fact,
the male writer who created it is one I’ve read before and enjoyed. That’s why
I’m still with the book. And, there is some good stuff in the book. I like the
characters. The writing is perfectly professional. From what the back cover
blurb said and what I’ve read so far in the book, I’m curious about what’s
going to happen when the shit hits the fan, so to speak. But man, let it hit the fan a little earlier.
In fact, I think I’m gonna type that up and hang it over my desk. “Let the shit hit the fan early and often.”
What do you think?
Labels: overly descriptive writing