Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bugbears

I'm a few chapters in on 'The Arms Maker of Berlin' by Dan Fesperman.  The plot is good, but not so keen on the writing style.  Fesperman employs a couple of devices that bug me.  The first is unnecessary repetition.  So he'll have a sentence such as 'The woman looked tired and bedraggled.'  Followed by: 'She was a wreck.'  The second sentence is redundant.  Another one is telling the reader what is going to happen later in the story.  For example, stating something like, 'Little did he know that on Friday he'd be sitting on a plane with the woman flying to Switzerland.'  I now know how the story is about to unfold and what is going to be happening in four days time.  I don't need to know this, it serves no purpose, and knowing it detracts from my reading experience.  I can live with the balance of show and tell, though I'd prefer more tell, and the melodrama and stock characters, but the other things bug me (and I'm sure there are aspects of my writing that annoy the hell out of people).  Regardless, what makes the book interesting and enjoyable is the story itself, which has me hooked.  Does plot supercedes everything else ...?

What are your reading bugbears?

4 comments:

Maxine said...

Clunky prose is awful I agree, and I've read a few novels recently that have really annoyed me as they seem to be written at the level of a reading age of about seven, though the subject matter is unsuitable. The combination of childish level and graphic material really puts me off.

I think "present tense" is about the worst for me, though, and it seems very fashionable.

Uriah Robinson said...

This book really annoyed me particularly the flap blurb telling the reader most of the plot, and the somewhat rose tinted picture of the atmosphere in Nazi Germany.
I note the Mayor of Dresden does not want Britain to commemorate Bomber Command. As someone who was brought up in bomb damaged South London and saw how badly damaged Manchester and Bristol were still into the 1960s I have only a little sympathy left for Dresden.
I wrote a review of The Arms Maker of Berlin for Karen, , but she probably wisely decided not to publish as it was very negative.

Bernadette in Australia said...

Your second bugbear particularly annoys me. I have given up on several books because of that kind of thing.

Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - I agree with you completely about the redundancy factor. And yes, those "foreshadowing" comments can be quite annoying as well. Thanks for this timely reminder, too, as I am busily working on my manuscript and want to avoid that kind of thing...