I know I don’t do these very often, but that’s because... er... well, I can’t be arsed. No, that’s not it. It’s probably got something to do with the weather, or socks, or something.
Anyway, I have been doing a lot of reading of late. Which is nice. Had some good times, had some bad times. But overall it’s been interesting seeing what works, what doesn’t work, and what has me frothing at the mouth, swearing a blue streak and wishing a fiery death upon whoever agreed to publish the person in question. Much like some Ian Rankin fans have done when faced with my book – according to their comments on the UK version of Amazon, anyway.
One thing that absolutely bugs the tits off of me is the info dump kings and queens of crime fiction. We’ve all seen it – exposition as dialogue, or reams of bloody back-story, history, snippets of PISH! Aaaaaaargh!
“You know,” said Terry, looking long and hard at the body stretched out on the bathroom floor with a nine-by-two socket set lodged into its rectum, “this reminds me of the time when I was a small boy, running through the corn fields near my home. Where we’d spend happy summers, until my father died in a tragic shelf-related ferreting accident that left my mother bitter and paralysed with a fear of small carnivorous mammals and DIY.”
“Really?” said John, straightening the tie his mother-in-law had given him for his thirty-ninth birthday. It was covered with penguins which was eerily appropriate given his nickname – Pingu. Sometimes he thought that wrinkled old blue-haired woman from Birmingham had a window into his soul. Just as long as she never saw his shameful secret: he was having an affair with the woman who ran the local off-licence. “So that explains why your brother killed himself by jumping off the three seventeen to Edinburgh, dressed as the Queen Mother. I’m not surprised you suffered from clinical depression for three years afterwards. God knows I would have too...”
OK, so I’m taking the piss, but it’s not far off some of the stuff that actually gets published. Know what – I DON’T CARE HOW TERRY’S DAD WAS KILLED! Not unless it's directly relevant to the story - and even then I don't want to find out about it in some half-arsed dialogue. I don’t give a toss about John’s affair. Even less about his tie and his nickname. You wanna give the guy a nickname? Have other characters use it.
And as for "I’m not surprised you suffered from clinical depression afterwards": I actually heard someone say that on television this weekend. Lazy, lazy bastards. You would have thought someone, somewhere down the line would have grabbed the writer by the throat and shaken them until some proper dialogue fell out.
Hmm... that may have come out as more of a rant than I had anticipated. I think I’d better go lie down in a darkened room for a bit.