A very happy new year to everyone! As I write this, my first post of 2021, I’m contemplating what the year may hold. There are so many things beyond our control right now, but one thing that is in my control is my blog, my writing and where I want to go with it.
And what better place to start than with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The main sign-up page has all the details you need to join in, in whatever capacity you want to, as well as links to everyone taking part. Why not dip your toe in? I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
The question set for this month’s post has us thinking about what stops us from finishing a book, throws us out of the story or frustrates us the most about other people’s books?
One of the main things that can jar my reading of a novel or story is a lack of continuity. I’ll just be settling down and getting to know Jack and his wife Amanda, getting comfortable around their two children and their dog Murphy, and the last thing I want to read is that his wife Alison has run off and abandoned Jack, his three children and their cat.
OK, so this is a pretty extreme example of what I mean, and, thankfully, I’ve never read anything that drifts as much as this, but you get my point. Ensuring that continuity is right, all the way through a story, helps to build trust between author and reader. When I’m reading, if the continuity starts to wander a little I find that I’m constantly checking for other little errors that may have crept in and it distracts me from what’s happening in the story.
Another distraction I come across as a reader, which I appreciate won’t niggle everyone, concerns accurate descriptions and regional terminology. I read a book recently that described a particular children’s tank engine, famous for its bright blue a red colouring. In the book it referred to it as green and yellow and mentioned it as Thomas the Tank Engine. My mental equilibrium was knocked out for quite a while as I tried to reconcile the image with the description, time I should have spent being more absorbed in the story.
In the same book, and not too much further on from the train incident, the main character referred to a sonogram. Now, the book was set in the UK, the characters were British and the book was sold in the UK. I know this doesn’t count for everyone, but I’m sure a good proportion of us Brits would refer to such an event as an ultrasound. Again, my concentration was knocked by this little distraction and it took a while for me to get back in sync with the characters.
Having these niggles about other people’s writing makes me think about my own writing much more critically and I certainly hope that I’m not guilty of any of the above. Hmmm, this seems like a good time to sign off so I can go and check …
How about you? What distracts or puts you off when reading somebody else’s stories?