So everyone’s favorite new website RUCKERPEDIA has been showcasing dark fiction this month in honor of the “Dark Days of October” leading up to Halloween. And over the next couple of weeks that will continue to be a focus of my little Library of Works.
However, tonight a crime spree will commence as I upload six different pieces of crime fiction, be it a series of 50-word dribbles, a dialogue-only piece, short story excerpts and even a work-in-progress. I’m might even include a couple of noir pieces as the nightcaps.
So make sure you tune in this evening from primetime and on through the late night hours for some seedy good times, m’kay?
Expedience – I read a lot. Of course that goes without saying. Just the other day I heard Stephen King say he is an omnivorous reader, and I agreed I am the same. Voracious, in fact. However – and because of this – I need to do a lot of using the speed-reading technique (as well as bypassing the boring parts in larger works). In the past as a short story editor I’d speed read a lot of short stories out of necessity. Nowadays, if I speed-read a story it is because to my tastes it’s wasting time getting to the compelling part. If I speed-read a novel, it’s not just because I tend to check out so many of them from the library and need to boogie through them swiftly, but it may also likely be because I am not quite enamored with the prose style, or it has a weak or non-existent plot, or worse yet, a plot that is simply not compelling. A lot of times novels are not paced as well as they should be. This is often a problem of structure, but unfortunately it’s sometimes the problem of the author’s narrative intent and approach.
Pickiness – Admittedly I am a particular kind of reader these days. I do not need to be wowed by a writer’s diction, quirky prose or clever turns of phrase. All I need is compelling stories piloted by likable, sometimes charming and charismatic yet always compelling characters. Purposeful dialogue. Though I do like to see lots of dialogue, I am not a fan of aimless, pointless chatter. Minimal prose. Though I don’t mind thorough description and (pertinent) details, I prefer narrative that doesn’t meander and rather gets on with it, preferably using a ticking clock. That tends to be the bigger draw for me, which is probably why I prefer crime and suspense thrillers (and the occasional horror tome, though like sci-fi and fantasy I prefer it on the big and small screens). I like immediacy and immersion. If the story, especially a novel, takes its sweet time getting to the rising action or the crucial character development then I’m more than likely to become impatient, uninterested and will look for the exit.
I also want to be quite intimate with the protagonist. I want to be immersed in their psyche, which is why I prefer the subjective third-person point of view. It’s my favorite to write from as well.
I wish I was a more patient reader, maybe even a one-track-minded reader like my wife is. She can’t read multiple books at a time, whereas I have to for the aforementioned impatience and other reasons. It may also stem from decades of reading multiple comic book series – it conditions you for a wide array of episodic but diverse reading scheme. And yes, the correlation between the scattered focus in my reading and the same in my writing is not lost on me.