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Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Some Fiction is Boring

When I was in my first writing group there was a guy named Jack who read his fiction every week. It was agony for everyone who had to listen. Jack wrote non fiction for a small magazine. His fiction was dead. Or it was incurably boring. The sentences just lay there like dead fish. And every week Jack would bring in a new story and we would all sit there and listen to it and then comment. Nobody knew what to say really because no one was quite sure what was wrong.

But Jacks problem was that his sentences were dead. He was technically proficient and his stories had a beginning denoument and an end. But his words were like boxcars that just followed each other. but nothing happened. Jack just could not put the words together in the proper sequence to make them ignite. Ignition is really what we are after in fiction. Something that makes us sit up and go...WOW!

And so I am now reading another book that is very boring, but this is a major writer. Richard Fords book Canada, which I am just about halfway through, is boring. The sentences just lay there. But here is a man who knows what he is doing. I have read his other books and they were not boring. They were slow, but never boring. But in this book, Canada,  there is a sneaking suspicion that Richard Ford has nothing he really wants to say in this book. The plot is so far about a bank roberry and you would think that would be enough, but I don't see the author invested in the story. There seems to be no one to care about or there seems to be no burning passion fueling the words and so they are dead.

It is a tricky thing this art of fiction.

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Books by William Hazelgrove