Life in progress


Tuesday Use It In A Sentence – Nuance

I love the word “nuance.” It depicts subtlety and refinement, not necessarily to make something elite, but rather to cause one to pay attention to detail. Which makes it rather funny to me that in my thesaurus, one of the synonyms for “nuance” is “shade.”

“Fifty Nuances of Grey.”

Do you think E.L. James would understand the irony?

The Tuesday Use It In A Sentence prompt is brought to you this week by Kelli at Forty, c’est Fantastique! Please click the link and join in today!


Finally, My Review of 50 Shades of Grey

I’ve held off reviewing the trilogy of 50 Shades of Grey because, mostly, I didn’t think it was worth my time. A poorly written, badly researched Twilight fanfic, it was more laughable when I read it than anything. It’s a masterpiece of an example of something that should have never been published for so many reasons, and yet it was.

I’m writing this now for two reasons. First, that I made a silly suggestion in my last post that single women go to see the movie, and further to that end I want to take it back – at least until you’ve read this review of the movie, which is my second reason for coming out with this now —–>>>

I’ve said a few times that the film couldn’t possibly be worse than the book. It seems that perhaps, if the above review is accurate, that it might even be doing those who see 50 Shades as romance a favour by depicting the character of Christian Grey for what he really is: a narcissist, and a dangerous one at that.

I have to believe that E.L. James meant the story to be titillating; to show the world of BDSM in the mainstream. 50 Shades of Grey is NOT, however, an accurate depiction of what BDSM is. Although I’ve never been active in a BDSM relationship, I’ve written extensively with someone who has. I learned a lot from this. Foremost, and E.L. James actually WROTE this into the contract she copied and pasted numerous times in the book, is that a submissive must be able to trust a Dom. And over and over and over again, Christian Grey, the Dom, proves himself untrustworthy. Consistency is so far from one of James’ strong suits though, it catapults itself far above the ceiling over which my eyes constantly rolled during the reading of the novels. The average reader may have skimmed this. The writer and editor in me could not. It’s that “skimming” which leads me to believe, nay, KNOW that 50 Shades of Grey is a danger to any and all young women who fall into the trap of seeing it as romantic – or anything but what it is. A story of torture at the hands of a psychopathic narcissist.

If you’re planning to see the movie, know what you’ll be watching. The word “fun” should be banned from the screening of this film.


Opening a Novel

According to a blog post I read here at Brainsnorts the most important part about opening a novel is the first four sentences. So I decided to go to my bookshelf and pick up four novels at random and check it out, to see if there’s anything the first few sentences have in common in each book. These were my selections:

Standing Stones – The Best stories of  John Metcalf

“Single Gents Only” (a short story)

After David had again wrested the heavy suitcase from his father’s obstinately polite grip and after he’d bought the ticket and assured his mother he wouldn’t lose it, the three of them stood in the echoing booking hall of the railway station. His mother was wearing a hat that looked like a pink felt Christmas pudding.

David knew that they appeared to others as obvious characters from a church-basement play. His father was trying to project affability or benevolence by moving his head in an almost imperceptible nodding motion while gazing with seeming approval at a Bovril advertisement.

This seems to me like a promising story. There is movement in it in the form of the fact that these people are going somewhere. The fact that the son takes the suitcase from his father tells me that he’s an adult. I want to know where they’re going. The description is good enough that I can imagine the scene easily.

The Marks of Cain by Tom Knox

Simon Quinn was listening to a young man describe how he’d sliced off his own thumb.

“And that,” said the man, “was the beginning of the end. I mean, cutting off your thumb, with a knife, that’s not nothing, is it? That’s serious shit. Cutting your own thumb off. Fucked my bowling.”

Okay, that was more than four sentences, but they were short ones. Shoot me. This opening is interesting. It doesn’t have much in the area of description, but how much description do we need? We can easily imagine the blood involved. Who is the man to Simon and why is he listening to such a horrific story? I want to know more.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance. Mrs. Baird’s was like a thousand other Highland bed-and-breakfast establishments in 1945; clean and quiet, with fading floral wallpaper, gleaming floors, and a coin-operated hot-water geyser in the lavatory. Mrs. Baird herself was squat and easygoing, and made no objection to Frank lining her tiny rose-sprigged parlor with the dozens of books and paper with which he always traveled.

I met Mrs. Baird in the front hall on my way out.

This opens very nicely indeed. The description is lush and from it we gather that Mrs. Baird is not going to be a central character, as we don’t get her first name from the narrator. Best of all, the very first sentence tells us that something mysterious will happen! Again, I want to read more!

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

I stare up through gaps in the sea-grass parasol at the bluest of skies, summer blue, Mediterranean blue, with a contented sigh. Christian is beside me, stretched out on a sun lounge. My husband – my hot, beautiful husband, shirtless and in cut-off jeans – is reading a book predicting the collapse of the Western banking system. By all accounts, it’s a page-turner.

Here we have two shades of blue and a good-looking man reading a boring book.

So. What do three of these openings have in common? Amazing descriptiveness, movement, action and/or gore and some element which makes us want to know more. What’s going to happen? Who are these people? Why are they; 1. in a train station; 2. cutting off their own thumbs; 3. staying in a place where someone is going to disappear?

And number 4? It tells us what not to do. By all accounts, it’s a page-turner. 😉

Thank you again to Brainsnorts for the idea for this post!


The future of publishing crap

This probably won’t be a very popular post but here I go with it anyway. With the invention of e-publishing new writers are coming out of the woodwork. These days anyone can publish their own work without having to pay money to do so. ANYONE. Who can be held accountable for what goes out there? It used to be that when you bought a book there was at least someone out there who believed in it. Sure, there was still a lot of crappy writing, but at least if you didn’t like a book you could sell it at a garage sale and get some of your money back.

I may not be in a position myself to say what I write is good, or that I won’t eventually go the route of self-publishing, but I’ve been reading long enough to distinguish what’s good and what is crap and I am appalled at how unbalanced it has become in the wrong direction. Up until last year I had never failed to finish reading a novel, no matter how bad it was. This year alone I have thrown up my hands in disgust at no less than three novels on my e-reader. Nowadays everyone thinks they can write. Many of the people self-publishing have long forgotten what they learned in Grade 3 grammar, and I hate to think what novels would look like without spellcheck.

For me it came to the forefront with ’50 Shades of Grey’. The author, E.L. James, actually said in an interview she understands that people who read her books are people who don’t normally read. I can easily believe it. When I read it I thought to myself, great! If this can get published anything can. By God was I right. Everybody and their sister said the same thing! I’m sure editorial slush piles have never been bigger, making it that much harder for talented writers to get noticed.

Will we get to the point eventually where there are more writers than there are readers? The way it’s going now I wouldn’t be surprised. I copied and pasted the following from Kindle’s website. I think I can keep my tongue firmly planted in cheek and let this speak for itself:

Do I need any special skills to publish with Kindle Direct Publishing?
Kindle Direct Publishing does the basic work for you, but if your content contains a lot of special formatting, a bit of knowledge in HTML may come in handy.

In closing, if you’re serious about writing a novel and you want to publish it, take a class or two. Brush up on your skills first. Make more than the effort to learn HTML and learn how to write! Hold yourself accountable for putting out a good product. Perhaps we can keep future of publishing out of the crapper after all.