If you're new to Write Well Me, read this to understand why I tell you what I'm reading. :-)
I finished Guilty Pleasures pretty quickly, and I was on to one of the books Chris bought me for Christmas. I don't feel that I'm a terribly picky reader, and I've forced myself to finish books that were mediocre.
Last night I put down The Vampire of New York in disgust. I had only made it to page 66, and that was me being kind. I didn't care about the characters or the plot, and the poor writing was driving me crazy. This author had been told to show and not tell, and so he (I couldn't find out whether Lee Hunt was male or female, so I'm going with male) thinks by giving lots of detail, he's showing, not telling. He still tells, though.
Here's an example of a passage:
Detective Max Slattery of the NYPD Cold Case Squad looked like Winston Churchill in a butch-cut toupee. He had the kind of face that belonged on a bald head, but his snow-white hair was a perfect bristled flattop exactly half an inch long over a vast expanse of glowing pink scalp. His hangdog jowls were clean shaven and the thought of growing a mustache had never occurred to him. Everything about him was square: face, shoulders, barrel chest and short, powerful legs. Years ago someone had taken a Spuds MacKenzie Budweiser poster and taped Slattery's picture over the dog's face. The caption read: AREN'T YOU GLAD HE'S ON OUR SIDE? A lot of people thought he'd been the inspiration for Andy Sipowicz character on NYPD Blue, and the average reaction on meeting him for the first time was that he was nothing but a dumb Mick cop. He wasn't. He was an extremely smart Mick cop who'd solved more homicides than anyone else in the history of the New York Police Department.
He was also getting old with twenty-eight years on the force, having worked everything from Warrants and Central Robbery to Missing Persons and Manhattan North Homicide. He'd now been with the Cold Case Squad since it was formed in 1996--more than a decade. In two more years he'd reach mandatory retirement, and he knew the boredom would probably kill him. He'd been a cop for almost thirty years and with very few exceptions he'd enjoyed every minute of it. He'd chewed up a few marriages and countless other relationships, lost partners to violence, disease and promotion, and never been on the pad for more than a cup of coffee.
Now get this VERY next paragraph:
The offices of the NYPD Cold Case Squad are located in a squalid little building in Brooklyn. It looks like every other police squad office only more so. Everything is out-of-date, from the telephones to the computers. Everything is either green or brown or beige. Everything is worn out, one way or the other. There are filing cases lined up against the walls, battered lockers and rows of battered desks. There is a police administrative assistant--PAA--named Doris Dubukian, who is a bottle blond, as old as Max Slattery, and who has a memory that is unbeatable when it comes to the mundane. Ask her the names of the first five batters struck out by Sandy Koufax in the first game in the 1963 World Series, and she'll answer immediately: Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris just like that. Behind Doris and Max's back there were whispered rumors of a long-standing affair between the two of them. Rumors were utterly unfounded.
For the first two paragraphs, the author writes in traditional past tense. Then, all of the sudden, we're in present tense, which is like hitting a log in the middle of the road. In a suspense novel, the words need to be moving the reader forward, not getting him stuck in paragraphs of description.
So I put down The Vampire of New York, and went looking for another book. Luckily, when I bought the first Anita Blake book, I also bought the second in the series. Yay me! I've never been so happy to start a book in my life. Good-bye The Vampire of New York. Hello The Laughing Corpse!