Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rules vs. Artistic Style

I'm reading a novel now that seems like it's a good story, even though there are craft issues that are leaving me a bit perplexed. Even maybe a little headachey.

John Sandford is a favorite of mine, even though it's been awhile since I've read something of his. Could it be that he's always written this way and I just didn't notice?

I don't think so.

The novel is Dark of the Moon. Here was my first clue that there might be something different ahead. Inside the covers of the book there is an acknowledgment page that reads "This book was written in cooperation with my friend Larry Millet . . . "

There are odd POV shifts (even though they're generally done well), and strange scene breaks that really aren't scene breaks at all (those are the headachey things).

I'm not talking about "breaking the rules." I think, rather, this is an attempt to do something different. To take artistic liberty. But I'm not sure I like it.

Does that make me a curmudgeon?

And I guess the one thing I really don't like is the fact that it sort of looks like this book had a co-author. A co-author whose name does not appear on the cover.

What about you? Is there anything that gives you reader angst?

You know what I'm reading. I have another Sandford in my TBR pile, so that'll be interesting.

It's all better with friends.


  1. You certainly have me curious now.

  2. It's also weird how things strike us differently after we've gotten deeper into the writing process ourselves versus when we're reading purely as readers, huh?

    What gives me a headache? These days it's when I read a book edited by an editor who just passed on mine. Either I'm all, Of course she passed! She's editing masterpieces like this one and my agent is sending my sad, pathetic...You know the drill. Or--this isn't any better than mine! Weep, weep. Why didn't she buy MY book?

    (Answer: because there are things in this universe stranger than anything you can imagine--to paraphrase a philospher I am not remembering at the moment--and also...Reading is and will always be subjective.)

  3. You know what? I jus this minute pulled out another Sandford, and he does the same scene/not-scene thing. So it is a style. Huh.

    Now that I know it's a "style", I'm a lot less headachey about the whole thing. In fact, it could be a device to sort of move things along faster.