In school you are taught the basics of writing, one of which is that you start a new line for each speaker and you tell your readers who is speaking. I have read stories where the writer has written conversations and I had no idea who said what. This doesn’t only apply to unknown indie writers, in Sara Paretsky’s “Ghost Country” she had a conversation between several people and at no time was it made clear who was talking and to add to the confusion; each person had their own conversation which was not directly linked to the main thread. This was not only my opinion, but the opinion of over 90 people on the Amazon review, we were lost as to what was going on and subsequently never read the book.
Another sin Ms. Paratesky is guilty of apparently is becoming preachy; as writers we imbue our characters with our traits-I know I do-but there is nothing worse than your character expressing your opinions, the story gets lost in the ensuing sermon and loses cohesion. I cannot vouch for the poor write-ups on the reviews as I have read only two of her books and the other one wasn’t too bad.
The few readers who know my work have come to expect the unexpected in both long and short stories, which I have been informed is one of the reasons they like my stories. I always let the characters tell me where to go with the stories, even in long-running stories like Pat Canella and Chronicles; I only one tried to force a story and it didn’t read well, so I left it and returned later to write the story the characters wanted. I usually have a start-point and an idea of where and how I want the story to go, beyond that it is their story.
Another factor in my stories is my sense of ironic revenge; my dark side loves to turn the knife for that final twist and readers have said that they never saw the end coming and had their breath taken away by the shock of a sudden ironic turn of fate. In one short story a girl got cut to ribbons by a falling chandelier and the man responsible was a man called James. Years later after escaping from an institute for the criminally insane, she gathers those responsible for her injuries and loss of a life in a church, tied with Chinese finger-traps they await their fate as she stand outside and watches the wrecking ball smash into the windows, cutting the group inside to ribbons and the name of the church-St. James.
Irony is a feature in the Chronicles series too; at the end of book 1 Mark and Annette are rescued from Wharfemere Abbey by Mark’s friend Rachel. In her hour of “apparent” doom, Annette expressed her love for Mark. At the end of book 2, he takes his revenge for betrayal by taking her back to the abbey, the place they were once so close became the place they were lost to each other; earlier in the stories he suffers a serious injury while fighting on a wall, with a torn tendon and fighting the pain he stands his ground knowing his end might be near; only to be saved by Rachel, at the abbey he uses his sword with the segmented blade to tear Annette’s body to pieces and leaves her in pain, but not without telling her there is a cave with bandages in, not far away; surrounded by the beasts she once helped him kill and with blood on the air she cowers as he walks away.
In the car he is asked by friends if he is going to leave her there, to which he replied, “I told her there is a cave about a quarter of a mile away with the bandages she needs.”
One friend asks, “Do you think she can get there?”
Mark turned to Rachel and said, “When you rescued me from the wall-how far would you estimate I was able to walk?”
With a shudder, she replied, “About the length of the car.”
We would all like to be paid a good price for the hours we spend writing and editing our work, but it is a buyer’s market. Here is a classic case of over-pricing, one e-book I encountered is priced at $13.45; there is no (!) way anybody will pay that for an unknown indie writer, when Stephen King, Clive Cussler and F. Paul Wilson only ask $6 top price and they have proven track records. I have the advantage (?) of having seen the work before editing and I pity the poor editor, imagine 25 lines of writing with no pauses, speech marks, periods and incorrect and inconsistent capitalisations. I was asked to edit the book after the author had it edited by Xlibris, but after that paragraph the thought of 80 pages horrified me and I had to call the deal off as I had a migraine.
Like all writers I would love to receive more than the few cents a copy I get from Amazon but it is a buyer’s delight these days and by asking a realistic price, I risk no sale at all as was the case for Chronicles book 2, Julia and I spent seven months putting the book together and it won’t sell, even for $1.50