James Aach, whose novel Rad Decision has been published electronically on the author’s website, contacted me today with the news that he’s written an essay about the difficulties of publishing his book.
I don’t know Mr Aach all that well, but he sounds pretty on-the-ball, considering the comments he makes:
Dialogue is hard. It’s a real art form – and a real chance for any writer to look very, very bad.
Amen to that. The dialogue I write these days – and I’ve written a fairish amount, getting on for one million words of fiction – is vastly different from the stuff I used to write. Hopefully better. But it’s hard work, and the quicker I realised that the sooner I started writing decent stuff.
Fiction is about characters – usually human beings. There’s just no way around that. (I looked.) A work of fiction can have useful science thrown in, but if the reader doesn’t care about the characters in some way, you’ll lose them quickly. (Yes, you can have a robot or a lab mouse as a central character – as long as it has feelings.)
Absolutely. If a writer doesn’t care about his characters, it’s time to stop writing and change the characters. One good thing is that if the writer does genuinely care about his creations, and can write in sentences, the reader is likely to care about them too. A surprising number of the books I’ve read over the past few months have been examples of poor characterisation.
I’ve read a snippet or two of Mr Aach’s book, and I think you could do worse than taking a look.