It’s All About the Story

books-315678_1280An exercise in frustration has been finding really good indie fiction. Oh, it’s out there. Finding it is the problem. I’d love to find some independently published novels that I can add to my list of favorites, books I go back to and read over and over, feeling like I’m visiting old friends.

I can see why the traditional publishing world looks down on those of us who’ve chosen the indie route. So much of the independently published books seem to have been produced by people who don’t know what a comma is for. Or are guilty of all kinds of rookie mistakes.

Recently, I read a work I’d been hearing about for a long time. This fantasy novel had some awesome world building. It was clear the author had invested considerable time lovingly creating his world, giving just about every country a long back-story and culture.

The problem was that just about at every juncture, every time the action was getting exciting, the author would give us several paragraphs of the trade history of that country, or its principle products or rivers. Or whatever.

I didn’t need to know that. I wanted to know if the hero was going to get his head chopped off. That the sword that his enemy was wielding was made in [City] by evil dwarves six hundred years ago and passed through the hands of seven kings and a wizard (I made that part up, but you get the point) was not important to the story.

The thing is, this particular story was so good that I overlooked the interruptions of the info dumps and read to the end.

Which got me to thinking.

I have the same complaint about of lot of indie fiction. But I finish many of the books anyway, because of the strength of the story and the characters. One, in fact, I got so swept up in one that I bought the other six, that’s right, 6, in the series.

As a reader, I can forgive writing mistakes and even some bad editing. What I can’t forgive is a lame story, dull or inconsistent characters, or a weak concept.

The series of seven books I mentioned earlier is a good case in point. There was a lot I didn’t like about the writing. But the concept was so intriguing, and the author did a good job of spinning it out across the seven books, I went along for the full ride quite happily.

As I edit my own work, then, I’m going to put some more attention to story and characters, to make sure they are strong. Then, just maybe, someone will add my novels to their list of favorites.


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