Archive for September, 2013

‘You can’t criticise the book unless you have read it,’ said Mum.

‘But I tried,’ I whined. ‘I couldn’t get past the first chapter, I was so bored.’

‘Well then you can’t criticise it.’

‘Alright. I would like to criticise it. I will sit down tomorrow, I will read that book, and then you will have to listen to me when I say that it is not good.’

Dear Mum,

A Small Selection Of Reasons Why

I Will Never Finish This Reading Book And No One Can Make Me Ever:

Live Reactions

Page Quote Reaction
p1 ‘I scowl at myself in the mirror.’ Starting with the biggest cliché of them all: the first-person narrator examining him/herself in the mirror, so the reader gets a physical description immediately. Then nothing happens for a million years. No inciting incident on this first page. Or the second page. Or the third… or ever.
p5 God, this is boring. Repeat for every line.
p10 (ish) OK, we get it: Gray is attractive and good looking and attractive and good looking and attractive and good looking. Oh, and good looking. And his trousers hang from his hips. Like everybody’s trousers.
p26 Gray is buying rope, cable ties and masking tape. And he has found out where she works. He sounds like a serial killer to me.
p26 Seriously. He found out where she works (how?) and drove from Seattle to Vancouver to buy some things in the hardware store she works in. This isn’t romantic, this is TERRIFYING STALKER BEHAVIOUR.
P26 Why is he here at Clayton’s? And from a very tiny, underused part of my brain – probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata near where my subconscious dwells – comes the thought: He’s here to see you. And from a very tiny, unused part of my stomach, I vomited with boredom and frustration that this book is so popular when it is so ridiculous.
P31 Okay – I like him. There, I’ve admitted it to myself. I cannot hide from my feelings anymore. I’ve never felt like this before. I find him attractive, very attractive.’ I hope he is a serial killer, and he murders this boring boring boring girl, and the book ends now.
P36 ‘No one has ever held my hand.’ Because this character spent her entire life before this moment in a box in a cupboard on a shelf in the dark.
P37 The only way I am getting through this terrible, terrible novel is by imagining on every page that Christian Grey is a serial killer and he is going to kill our narrator very soon. Hopefully.
P38 [She blushes. She nods. She shakes her head. She] ‘stares down at her knotted hands’. Her scalp prickles. I fall asleep and fall off my chair, sliding onto the floor because I am so bored.
P42 ‘I surreptitiously gaze at him from beneath my lashes.’ All the readers close their lashes and die of boredom.
P43 ‘I find you intimidating.’ I flush scarlet, and gaze at my hands again. [and again and again.]‘You should find me intimidating.’ He nods. He is definitely a serial killer.
P47 ‘Oh my.’ Lions and tigers and bears….oh my.
P50 ‘vaguely amazed.’ WTF?
P54 ‘I’ve never been drunk before.’ That’s what happens when you live in a box in a cupboard for the first part of your life.
P54 P54 – She receives an anonymous package with a terrifying note:‘Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me? Ladies know what to guard against because they read novels that tell them of these tricks.’ Not only does he know where she works, but now he knows where she lives and is sending creepy anonymous gifts. Serial killer.
P57-58 Ana gets drunk and calls Grey, and then he decides that she is in immediate danger because she has had a couple of cocktails and he decides he is coming to get her. From Seattle. Because she has had a drink. Because he is a serial killer.
P60 ‘Vomiting profusely is exhausting.’ I am learning SO MUCH from this book.
P62 I can’t believe we’re at page sixty-one and no one has had sex yet. This is ridiculous.
P62 ‘How did you find me?”I tracked your cell phone, Anastasia.’ Psycho stalker. Oooh, and Ana agrees:Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me through the cloud of tequila that’s still floating in my brain, but somehow, because it’s him, I don’t mind.’Oh yes, stalkers are fine if they’re good looking. And attractive. And their trousers… hang from their hips… good-lookingly.
P65 ‘He’s in grey sweatpants that hang – in that way – off his hips.’ In what way?! Why is wearing trousers around his hips, like every other human being, so special?
P68 ‘Well, if you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday.’ I stopped reading.

Alright, I tried. But this book is awful and I can’t waste my time with it any more. I can’t bear it. The narration is boring and almost entirely made up of clichés, repetition and the endless outlining of mundane unnecessary shite which does nothing to advance the plot, like the fact that orange juice is ‘thirst-quenching’ (REALLY?!).

I stand by what I said before I tried to read it: this is not a romantic outline of a relationship which embraces S&M sex as part of their sexual life. This is a novel with a main character who is domineering and controlling to a scary degree, masquerading as a ‘romance’. It is not a positive thing that swathes of readers will read this book and think that the interaction between Steele and Grey is acceptable.  A man who insists on knowing where you are and turns up uninvited when you have had a few drinks with your friends and proceeds to tell you that you deserve to be punished for having a drink too many, and who takes you away from your friends, ostensibly to ‘rescue’ you: this is domineering, stalking, and controlling behaviour, not romance.

And also the whole first seventy pages are insipid, dull dishwater SHITE and I am never going to finish reading this waste of paper. And I didn’t even get to a sex scene!



Read Full Post »

It’s Happening

Three years ago, I read and wrote about a book which concerned itself with the process of planning and drafting a screenplay, Syd Field’s Screenplay. At the time, I read it with an eye to plotting in a novel in a regimented three-act structure just like a film. I had decided that this was the key to my first novel: if it’s a regimented structure, planned in advance meticulously, there is less possibility of failure or non-completion.

Between then and now, I have completed a Creative Writing MSc, and I finished the 25,000-word dissertation which accompanied that, along with a number of short stories. But after the MSc, life got in the way for a while. After agonising and mentally beating myself up, I gave myself a reprieve, and carried on plotting and planning and intending. 

I have not finished a novel yet. Emphasis on the ‘yet’, because a novel is what I am working on right now. In April this year, something happened in my life which seemed to push a ‘RESET’ button in my brain. Suddenly, I wanted to spend more time on my own. I was happy to stay home and miss out on a party every now and again. I wanted to write.

I re-read Syd Field, and plotted a novel from beginning to end, resulting in an 8,000-word chapter plan, one which is so exhaustive that I hopefully have no excuse but to continue until it is written. And then I started to write.

It’s been a slow process, and I’m nowhere near the end, but I’ve got a 20,000-word draft so far and I’m still going. I’m writing blind: typing madly, not re-reading, aware that if I look back and see the trail of terrible sentences I have scattered in my wake, I’m doomed. As long as I get the first draft on paper, I can fix it later.

For now, it’s write, write, write. I’ve set myself a deadline: first draft by November 20th. It’s a bit ambitious, so I might need to try harder to say no to the fun parties, and ask some friends to nag at me a little more (I respond well to nagging).

Here’s the great thing: it’s happening. I’m doing it.

Read Full Post »