Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why I Don't Post 1-star Book Reviews

As I've made my return to writing and publishing books, I've dedicated myself to becoming a student of writing fiction. How? By reading books from the best authors in the genres I love to read and write: mysteries, suspense, thrillers and romance. In doing so, I've mostly been reading books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, JA Konrath, and recently I gave John Locke a try --I'm impressed. This is not to say that I haven't given any indie authors a try, for JA Konrath and John Locke have certainly become some of my favorite authors. Blake Crouch, Misha Crews, and Scott Nicholson also write page turning novels that I enjoy. On the converse, I've read a lot of shitty novels that were overly descriptive, didn't transition well from scene to scene, and needed an editor, both indie and traditionally published-- which dispels the myth that big, traditional publishers do a wonderful job of quality control to ensure that fecal matter doesn't get released.

Sometimes, I've become so frustrated after finishing someone's crap novel that I started to go to their page to give a detailed reason as to why their book sucks, but I thought better of doing so. Even then, I would have given the book two stars.

One reason I don't post 1-star reviews is because I remember when I first released A Thousand Chances on paperback. I didn't get an editor, because I didn't have the money for one and I didn't see a need for one, until a friend of mine book pointed out a very critical error. I wrote one of my friend's names as one of the characters... oops! Since then, I've realized the importance of having editors beat my manuscript to a living pulp because no author catches all of their own mistakes.

The second reason is because the book has to be epically bad. I'm talking about instances where every element in the story was fucked up. The only work I can think of that accomplished the epic fuck up status was a movie entitled Sweetback's Bad Ass Song --clearly the worst fucking movie I've ever seen. For the most part, no one with a brain fucks up this badly. And to give Melvin Van Peebles credit, the same bad movie I referred to was critically acclaimed in many circles. Unless you wrote Sweetback's Bad Ass Song as a novel, your book is not an epic fuck up.

The final reason is because I know that the author has put a lot of work into his/her book to sit at a computer and work on a story for days, weeks, months and sometimes years. Contrary to my former high school classmates opinion, I'm not a big enough asshole to rip someone's heart out and start feeding on it right before their eyes when all they've done is write a shitty novel that they worked hard on. Not to mention that there's usually a thin line between a good novel and a bad one. For instance, I've been reading an urban lit novel --don't laugh at me-- where the plot was pretty good, but the execution of it wasn't because 1) her descriptions throughout every scene disrupted the dialouge and made it difficult for me to keep up with the story; 2)the sequence of events made no sense; 3)the author placed unnecessary scenes just for the sake of meeting a page count; 4) she didn't transition well from scene to scene.

My subjective opinion is that she was writing the book from the seat of her pants. Some authors execute their stories effectively writing in this manner, but most can't. In her case, I could tell that she wrote chapter by chapter, and that she had no idea what should happen next after finishing a chapter. Because of this, her story lacked the cohesion that would have made it a page turner. Even with all of this said, she wrote a two-star book because she did one or two things right with her book. She just did more wrong things.

Besides, if I really felt that a book was awful enough to warrant 1-star, I'd shoot that author an email and respectfully explain why.

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