Monday, May 9, 2011

Formatting Bad Apple #3

I don't know when I finished writing this book and then started post-production.  Time loses its meaning at this point.  I thought I had everything set up pretty well so I wouldn't be stuck with a big mess at the end and that's true but I had a centering issue.

I don't understand computer programs.  You click on center and why doesn't it just center?  No, it has to be more complicated than that.  You have to Google it, and then you find out you're the only person who's had this problem.  NOT!!!  There are 27 pages of hits for this issue.  When you go into the catacombs of Word you find out there is an "align to top" and "align to center".  Why why why?  And why isn't align to center the default?  I've never heard of align to top.  Who uses that, engineers?

So I realigned it.  I resized the treble clef about 6 times.

Here's some news.  Nook doesn't like PNG images.  Okay.  Had to go back and make it a JPG.  Good thing I now have the Nook Color so I can check the formatting and all. (I still don't know why that one reader saw all the l's (ells) as 1's (ones) because there was a section in a book I downloaded that was like that too.  A traditionally published book that should be perfect, right?  I would like to avoid these issues.

I thought it would be done this past weekend and now I'm hoping it'll be live for this coming weekend.
I have read 2 books in a row that I have a difficult time explaining.  One I would say I am absolutely sure the writer thought she had lots of material for a good series of books but she quickly ran out of steam.  Book #1 was pretty good, good enough for me to seek out #2 and #3.  By #3 it was totally horizontal.  She was throwing the kitchen sink at the page trying to fill it all up.  The characters were if not flat, unlikeable, the murderer was completely predictable, the "love" affair was as bloodless as you could imagine.  I didn't even know these people liked each other.  Not that these days you need to like someone to have sex with them, but I think it's a good place to start.  I should go read the reviews on this book and see if she gets yelled at for the romance part the way I have been.

The other book...wait, I have to remember what that was...oh yeah.  The cover is the best part of this book.  I feel like ripping it off and um framing it or something and throwing the book away.  Again we have a main character who is completely unlikeable.  She's supposed to be a Strange Baptist (no idea what that is but it's gotta be some flavor of Christianity, right?) and she's as rude and unpleasant as I could imagine.  Such a shame.
That's a missed opportunity for the writer to portray a Christian in a good and positive light instead of this irritable bitch.  The writing is totally horizontal.  We're hearing about what's in the pantry, how she's cleaning the house, the neighbors, the town, everything except the relationship with the freaking love interest who 100 pages into the book hasn't even shown up yet except in telephone calls in which they argue and then hang up on each other.  Foreplay?  I think not.


So what's horizontal writing?  Think about it.  You should be writing/building toward something.  The writing is ascending dramatically.  That is story structure.  It holds true in novels, in plays, television and in film.  This has existed since humans sat around the fire and told stories.  It pre-dates the Greeks.  It is how it works.  If you're not building to anything, if you're essentially treading water, then it's horizontal.  You're supposed to be on a roller coaster, not one of those toy train rides around the amusement park.

If you have nothing to say, if you have no dramatic incidents, you will be going horizontal.  You will be boring.  No one can do that and not be boring.  No one is that good a writer.

How do you solve horizontalitis?  Kill someone.  It's what works in thrillers.  Have something happen.  RAISE THE STAKES for your character.  Make something important happen to them or take something important away from them.  Throw a monkey wrench into their life.  Let us see into their hearts and minds. 
This is writing 101.  I find it difficult to believe these fairly well-known authors got published with such amateurish books. 

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