Suggested prerequisites: Completion of at least one novel by Umberto Eco, and viewing Science Channel's series Biblical Conspiracies
I recently read the first few pages of Inferno
by Dan Brown and thought, as I read, "Do I have to write like this
to be a successful writer?" Brown's writing style includes passages like "I scramble, breathless..." and "hoarse voices smelling of lampredotto" and "They stare deep into my clear green eyes" and "dying unthinkable deaths" and "Langdon bolted awake" and "shot a glance at the bearded doctor" and "sat bolt upright" and "advanced with the intensity of a panther stalking its prey" and "mission had gone horribly awry." Popular writing mystifies me. Millions of people will read Inferno
, and bestsellers like it, without cringing when they come across the cliches and awkward phrasing in the text. I don't understand that. I'm baffled that so many people tolerate writers writing at a mediocre level. Readers should gravitate to writers who are attentive enough to clean the cliches out of their writing and come up with poignant replacements. "Scramble"? I can't picture the Shade scrambling
along the Arno. I think Brown meant something like "scuttle" or "crab," the Shade running sideways low to the ground to avoid being seen, since "scramble" usually implies more haphazardness than the Shade exhibits. "Hoarse voices smelling of"? Voices don't smell, breath does. Voices sound. More like "vendors..., with their hoarse voices, their breath smelling of lampredotto." Just to quibble, with
actually modifies I
. "I snake through vendors with their voices." But how did you get their voices away from them? "Into my clear green eyes"? That's an abrupt change in viewpoint, isn't it? Up to that point the reader has viewed the action as
the Shade, but suddenly the reader has an external
view of him. Rather than "unthinkable deaths," Brown probably meant "unimaginable deaths." "Langdon bolted awake"? The verb bolt
should simply be retired from the language; label it obs.
in the dictionary and leave it there. Brown uses the verb twice within a few pages. "Shot a glance." If the character had shot
a glance, Langdon would have noticed it. I think Brown meant that she briefly met the other doctor's eyes to convey a message to him subtly. Advanced, intensity, panther, prey. Don't even get me started. If this were a movie, the actor would be overacting. "Horribly awry"? If the character is as methodically deadly as I think she is, a mission may catastrophically fail, but it would never
go horribly awry.
Note: This ebook was designed using HTML5 and CSS3, and at present the only reader that will display the ebook correctly is the Kindle Fire. The other Kindle readers will display the text, but much of the formatting will be lost.
Additional note: I just did a Google search for "'bad book review' sue." 572,000 results. I'm encouraged that there is so much dialogue going on about the topic. Yes
, a reader who drops a cow pie on a new author's book should have a very good reason to--like the author knowingly presented false information or inadequately researched his book. If a reader dislikes a book because the demographic for whom the book was written didn't include the reader, that's not
a valid reason for a bad book review and, yes, the reader should be called to account for writing one, especially when an author is new. The review stars are the same color for valid reviews as they are for inappropriate reviews and carry the same weight for potential readers. ... I've also come to realize that the one-star reviews for this book were submitted because the reviewers were asked to submit negative reviews by someone who wants to censor the book's questioning of the origins of Torah. This person could be either an Orthodox Jew who is an advocate of Israelis' "birthright," or an Evangelical Christian whose faith is based on the plenary inspiration of Scripture. Both would be motivated to keep the premise of this book and its sequel, The Talpiot Find, from influencing the opinions of a great number of people.