Friday, February 4, 2011

It's only clever if it works

I love Mom dearly, really I do. She's an amazing woman and I wouldn't be who I am today without her ceaseless support. That being said, I suggest you avoid being like her.*

See, Mom was cooking chicken and realized she was doing way too much for two people. What does she do? She takes the excess and puts it in the dog's bowl. Then buries the chicken under a mountain of kibble. "Can't give it to him too easily. He should work for the good stuff." She said. 

My dog stared at the bowl. Sniffed it a few times. Then stared at Mom like, what - why'd you do that? Eventually, he shoved all the kibble aside - knocking it all over the floor in the process - and ate the chicken. And, oddly enough, he never finished his dinner - I know because when Mom went to feed him tonight she noticed the bowl was still mostly full. 

The moral of the story is this: you aren't being clever when you hide the good stuff (basically the juicy, meaty bits) in your book under a bunch of dry stuff. You're just forcing the reader to search for it. They won't be happy and once they get what they're looking for, they'll leave your book half-finished. There'll also be a mess left behind (and this will probably be your reputation because why would they trust you again?!).

Any clever tricks authors have tried to pull on you lately? Any awesome plans for the weekend (seriously, tell me, all I've got to look forward to is piles of homework!)?

*When I say don't be like Mom, I really only mean in this case. You'd probably love her if you met her. She rocks! (Love you Mom.)

33 comments:

  1. Very clever! I'm inclined to skip pages in books if it all gets a bit slow, frantically flicking for the good bits, and then the story is ruined anyway. Sigh.
    Enjoyed your obstacles post Wed too. Needed a pep talk. Still need a pep talk! Maybe I should reread. :-) Enjoy the weekend in between homework.

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  2. Just authors who hide a good story under a mountain of colorful description. Boring!

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  3. That's so true.

    The sad thing is that most authors know this, but don't notice that they do it.

    :-)

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  4. HAHA. This is the most blunt writing simile I've ever read. Love it. I'll be snowboarding tomorrow. Or more appropriately: falling on my ass a lot. Wish me luck!

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  5. Nobody wants to search for fun :) We like a good book that you can dive right into and love.

    I have no big plans. Resting, blogging, writing, resting, reading, watching movies, you know, the usg. lol.

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  6. Clever analogy, Melissa! Animals know what's up. And readers do too. I think it was Raymond Carver who said writers don't need tricks or gimmicks. Readers won't be fooled!

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  7. Haha, this analogy is spot-on! I totally feel like your dog sometimes when I'm reading a book that makes me work to get to the good parts. I'll have to keep this in mind as I revise!

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  8. That's like the greatest analogy EVER!

    I had to teach myself not to hide the meat (that sounds way dirtier than I meant it)

    What I love is reading stories/series, like Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series (I'm in the midst of now) where there is so much fascinating tidbits floating around you don't really know what's valuable and what's entertaining misdirection. REALLY builds up the tension and suspense without there being a boring moment!

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  9. Aww, so sweet of you to say. :)

    No plans except trying to be productive and playing card games. :)

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  10. You and your clever analogies--spot on sister!

    Hi mom -if Melissa loves you, so would I!

    Hey, you don't have your email under your blogger act. so when you leave me a comment on my post, I can't talk back at you in my inbox :-( ;-( *sad*

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  11. Wow, really great point. Because I know I have skimmed many a book trying to get the major plot points buried under less exciting, boring prose or events. The filler has to be good too!

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  12. Love your analogy! I just finished a book today that had lots of secrets. In the end, two secrets were never revealed. But I guess that was okay, because they weren't that important in the whole scheme of things, and the ending was satifying. If you're a bestselling author, I suppose you can get away with stuff like that!

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  13. Loved the post and the PIC... too funny!

    I had a little yorkie who used to do the same think. I'd mix chicken and rice with her kibble. Being a dainty littl girl she tongued her way through all the chicken and each grain of rice...... Always left the kibble. She'd look up at me and lick her chops, the prance away..... Little BIOTCH.

    Michael

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  14. HAHAH! Oh Tye! Such a smart dog. I have met your mom, and let me just say I still dont want to be like her... hehehehhe! Only kidding, I love her too.

    Weekend plans.. Shopping today, Laurens birthday tomorrow, and possibly Jacobs church Sunday.

    Your weekend sounds like a crazy bunch of fun!!! WHOOT!! not working... hmm, well I tried. Love you!

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  15. Hehe, goodness this was the best! I loved it. It's honestly something to think about. You always have the best similes. Weekend plans? What? We're supposed to have lives outside of writing? ...Oh. ;) Pittsburgh Steelers are in the Super Bowl, and if you don't watch it here where I live, you'll be clobbered. So I guess I'll be in front of the TV all Sunday night. :3

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  16. UM!!!!!!!

    I'm pretty sure BOTH our weekends contain a viewing of The Roommate and a Glee Super Bowl party.
    Oh yeah that does sound pretty lame?

    THAT BEING SAID I still love love love the way you can find examples in day to day life. It's BRILLIANT!!!!

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  17. This is such a great metaphor. I'm always worried that I'm hiding the good juicy bits in with dry stuff. I think I did that in the very first draft. I've had to sift through like your dog and pull the good bits out, discarding the dry stuff!

    I love that picture!!

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  18. Love this post and it is so true! I can't tell you how many books I've stopped reading because I couldn't get past all the dry bits. :)

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  19. Your mom sounds like mine.

    I don't want to be like your dog when I'm reading a book. I want that damn chicken and I want it to last the whole meal!

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  20. Wow! Yet another food-related writing analogy. Clever stuff! I wish I could do that, but I never seem to get past the "food" part.

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  21. GREAT analogy. Well done! =)

    Have a great weekend!

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  22. the queen of the analogy strikes again!!!!
    great, great point! :)
    and i'm CERTAIN your mom is the shizz!

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  23. Hahahaha!!! This is brilliant!! What awesome posts you have!

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  24. This is a wonderful and ACCURATE analogy - I loved it! It's true, I hate it when authors do that... it's definitely something to watch for in our own writing.

    Hope you have a great weekend! :)

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  25. Great analogy! No, we shouldn't try and hide the good stuff. What would be the point of that?

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  26. So true! If I have to work too hard to find the good stuff, I don't read too far. Not worth it - life is short!

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  27. Super cute post with no hidden meaning. ;)

    Marie, http://marierearden.blogspot.com

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  28. Very clever observation! I agree and I have ran into this in different forms. Rave reviews for books that go nowhere. Too much flowery description. Too many tangents that don't get pulled together.

    Great warning!

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  29. I love that analogy. How true. Readers (like dogs) are just to smart and impatient for it. :)

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  30. my trick: mix the chicken bits/gravy with the kibble, and let sit for a bit so it absorbs some of the liquid;
    works for me... often ;) lol

    as for tales, i find if you give all the info up front, why read further?

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  31. hysterical! Like the dog, I do find myself skimming through the boring parts to get to the good stuff! (Especially with the last Steig Larsson novel--I must have skipped 100 pages...)

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  32. Brilliant analogy! I'll be thinking of chicken and kibbles as I work on revisions (gotta keep that chicken to kibble ratio in check! More chicken, less kibble...) :D

    ~Jen

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