Thursday, December 14, 2006

Imitating Real Life or Lazy Writing?


I've just wasted several days reading Nelson DeMille's latest book, Wild Fire. I've read his work before, and it always held my interest. Aside from the fact that this book has a "sagging beginning" (as opposed to the dreaded "sagging middle") and is peppered with dull scenes that typify the kind of writing that Randy Ingermanson calls "look how much research I did," I was struck by the amount of bad language in it. I must admit that in the beginning I did as I generally do--skipped past it. After all, the protagonist is a New York City detective, his wife is an FBI agent, and the circumstances that law enforcement officers find themselves dealing with day after day undoubtedly trigger strong language. But as the book went on (and on, and on, and on) it seemed to me that DeMille just continued to pepper the dialogue a bit too liberally, like a kid showing off. And I eventually began to wonder if, as he's become more and more successful as an author, maybe he hasn't gotten a bit lazy. Don't hold your reader's attention with sharp dialogue and fast-paced scenes, just throw in some words guaranteed to shock and move on.

I'll admit that I finished the book, for several reasons. First, I paid for it and I'm too cheap not to read it. Secondly, I wanted to see how the premise (which is pretty good) played out. And last of all, I wanted to be able to write a review on Amazon.com (which I did), to warn others about what I'd noticed.

It's true that some writers of Christian fiction are more successful than others at crafting a spellbinding book, but there are a number of them out there who can hold their own with the "secular" crowd. If I start naming names, I'll leave somebody out, but if you are at all familiar with the genre you probably know. If not, log on to Charis Connection for a while and you'll see some names whose writing you can trust.

Well, time to climb down off the soapbox and get back to my own writing--which does not contain any bad words, unless you count VISA and Mastercard, both of which make me shiver about this time of year.

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