Emmie (angearia) wrote,

Reading Frustration

I used to devour books as a teenager.  I'd read a book in one sitting, then put it down and start another.  I'd read until I couldn't keep my eyes open and fall asleep with the book still clutched in my limp fingers.

I'd read so many books.  And many of them?  Were kinda trashy.  Uninspired prose and cliched writing.  But somehow, I was able to enter these stories blissfully unaware of these faults.  Rather, not so much unaware as willfully blind to them.

Now?  I can't not notice.  In the past two years that I've started writing and also editing/betaing other works, I can't pick up a cheap novel I grabbed while shopping and just enjoy it.  I want to take a red pen to the pages and eviscerate the awkward phrasing. 

First line of one book:

The motorcycle shot out from behind the live oak, where it had been hidden by the wisteria vine.

Dear god, this is an awkward sentence.  First off, why is it necessary to note the oak is "live"?  (LOL!  Just been informed live oak is another term for evergreen--so yeah, much prefer evergreen terminology.)    But how about some more description?  Is it tall?  Is it old?  Is it leaning to one side?  Is it blocking the road?  It's cheap and lazy description.  Second, how awkward is the transition to "where it had been hidden". 

Here's another example of a first line from a novel:
There was so much light, and Alexandra hesitated, confused.

Besides the fact that this is an obscure (and fairly uninteresting to the point of being mundane) sentence, I want to rip apart that conjunction and just make it two declarative sentences.  Just have it say:

There was so much light [and go on to describe the light instead of just saying "so much"].  Alexandra hesitated, confused [then I'd go on to describe what was causing the confusion, somehow creating a thematic link through imagery perhaps]

Feel free to comment or disagree with my analysis of this writing!

I'm beginning to understand why certain snobs sound bitter.  They see the world with eyes tinged in prosaic disappointment.

I miss my trite and pleasing escapist fiction.  I miss being able to read fic without wanting to ruthlessly edit it as I go.  Now, when I move to devour my old fare, it tastes rank.  I've become a reading snob.  Maybe I should go read classic literature. 

Anyone have any suggestions of a must-read novel or know of any lists for those novels you simply must read in your lifetime?  Or how about favorite first lines?   


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