Jun 07 2012

The Deadly Sin Of Not Giving A Book A Five Star Rating

Posted by Mathias

There are seven commonly recognized deadly sins.  They include wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.  But there is also an eighth deadly sin so cardinal that is often over looked.  That sin is daring to say that a book is not “5 star” quality.

Yep, it is true.  Honesty is not looked upon kindly in the world of book reviews.  In that world, glowing, five star praise painting every novel written as the next best thing since Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkein or C.S. Lewis put pen to paper is the order of the day.  If you give a hedged four-star review while heaping praise, you can usually avoid most ofthe inevitable aftermath.  But, dare to give a book three-stars or less and you better be ready for scorn to be heaped upon you and the personal attacks to ensue.

When I said that Ian Irvine’s latest fantasy novel Vengeance, The Tainted Realm Vol 1 was only worth three-stars saying it read “like I was in the middle of a Tuesday night AD&D session” and it was not for anyone with “discriminating tastes in epic fantasy” it was on.  I received angry emails calling me a “worthless piece of s**t” and accusing me of “being jealous that I could never write such a wonderfully contrived novel as Mr. Irvine does time and time again.”  Well, excuse me for having an opinion.  Excuse me for thinking the book was mediocre.

Even when I recently posted my review of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, which I gave four out of five stars, I was not immune from attacks.  While I recommended the book, I also said that some things disappointed me such as the “simplistic prose”, its predictability and the fact that the basic premise was not very original even if the story details themselves were.  That caused fans of the book to unleash upon me because I did not think it was worthy of five star praise like they did.  Again, sorry for having an opinion that you did not like I suppose.  Please note that I did give it four stars.  Geesh!

It is an odd thing to experience, especially as an aspiring writer seeking publication.  One person upset with my review of The Hunger Games whined at me in a long, meandering email, “How would you like it if someone called something you wrote ‘simplistic and predictable’ and did not give it five stars?”  Well, honestly, as long as they are being honest and not vindictive or just a generally ignorant ass?  Then I do not care.  Opinions are, as they say, like butt holes.  Everyone has them.

I’m not one to toss around five-star ratings for anything, least of all books.  I’ve only ever thought that three books I have ever read deserved such an honor: Bram Stokers’s Dracula, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.  Sorry.  That’s my opinion.  Others have come close, but none has quite hit those heights.

I’m honest.  If you do not like it, don’t visit my site any more.  It is still a free country.

Aug 24 2011

How To Get Conflict Going

Posted by Mathias

I was sitting down today and thinking about conflict and how we as authors get to the conflicts that drive the stories we write.

Every story needs conflict.  Without it, nothing happens of any importance and no one cares about the story and the characters contained within.

As writers we must set up the conflict.  But before we can do that though we have to know what the conflict will be.  How you set up conflict is important and it is imperative that the reasons for conflict makes sense.  The best character in the world becomes boring without something that motivates him or her to move forward or backward in life.

To be honest, there really are not that many reasons conflict exists on a grand scheme although the details are what make them unique and intriguing to the reader.  Do not think for one minute that you have some unique conflict that has never been seen before.  Everyone major story arc has been tried and written at some point.  Again though, it is the details that make the story unique even if the overall plot driven by the conflict is not. (more…)