Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, March 18, 2023

A Sad Example of By-passed Editing

Can't recall which Newsfeed I copied this from, but the caption was: "Russian Embassy in London."


 A couple of days ago, I gave a casual glance at Nextdoor, our community email loop which extends over most of Seminole County, and did a double-take, as I recognized the location. The pic was taken just over a mile from my house, on a road I travel several times a week. Believe me, this one's a doozy. Crews have been doing construction work on that part of the road for weeks, and the video shows workmen scratching their hard-hats as a horse gallops by in heavily suburban Longwood. 

My next reaction was horror, as I knew that horse was within a hundred yards of a really busy road. Never got all the details but our local "Nextdoor" assured us the horse had been saved & safely returned home. (There's a large equestrian complex back up the road away, so no doubt that's where he came from.)

So click below to see a runaway horse in Longwood, FL.

For video of horse running down Longwood Hills Road, click here.


Below, "Smile," posted to Facebook by a friend who took it in New Smyrna Beach.


I intended the following "review" to be a quick introduction to a new post on the importance of Editing, but, like the book in question, my blog ran on and on. Therefore, "The Hard Facts of Editing" is postponed to next week.


Horrific Editing Example


Since I began this blog in 2011, I have made a point of never naming an author about whom I made critical remarks, but this week I am going to be skating close to the edge due to the specifics of the criticism. Firstly, the author's earning power puts him/her well above the other 99.999% of authors in the world, so the genius is definitely there. But it's in danger of total obfuscation behind an egregious spewing of unnecessary words, over-elaborate plotting, too many characters, and a spate of red herrings.

Which is a shame, because clearly this author has access to the best editors, who undoubtedly noted he/she had gone astray, yet the author plunged ahead, paying no attention to what every author needs—judicious editing, ensuring their book is both readable and entertaining.

When this author began the current mystery series, the first books contained absolutely marvelous characters, both primary and secondary. Yes, readers were tempted to give both main characters a kick in the you-know-what for being so obtuse about their personal relationship, but that is what it takes to keep a series going.

But with the next to last book in the series, the plot began to wander, straying into territory that had nothing to do with the mystery at hand - almost like a college student adding filler to get an essay count of 5,000 words. Except if there was ever an author who didn't need to boost their word count .  . . !

But the most recent mystery is in a class by itself - running to three or four times the length of the average fiction novel. It goes on and on and on, coming to life only when the main characters are on the page, falling into a mist-filled, bottomless pit every time it attempts to reproduce social media posts. These could have been a clever innovation to lure in younger readers, but they go on and on and on - tweets by both nasty trolls and clueless innocents that mostly turn out to be red herrings, and made for the most tedious reading I've ever done. I persisted only because I love the main characters and wanted to see how things progressed with them. Frankly, I was so turned off by the mystery plot that well before the long-awaited denouement, I didn't give a @#$% who the killer was. I just wanted all those awful people to go away.

Just to be sure, I wasn't being old and crochety, I checked the reviews online. Most agreed with me, particularly the prestigious review sites.

I'm almost certain the author's editing staff tried to point out that an uncontrolled waterfall of words—which reads like stream of consciousness from James Joyce interspersed with the endless tedium of Waiting for Godot—does not make a successful mystery. How very sad that advice was ignored. (Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!) Sadly, the avalanche of uncontrolled words was so egregious, I am seriously questioning if I will buy the next book, no matter how much I want to keep up with the adventures and romance of two truly great main characters.

If you do stumble across this book, I recommend the following:  Skip all the Tweets, emails, private channel discussions & cluttered tech info that goes with each. Read only the classic12-point type where the two main characters discuss the case at such length, it's doubtful you'll miss a thing. Unless, of course, you enjoy reading the outpourings of people who are lonely, twisted, mean-spirited, or just plain evil, and have nothing better to do with their time than spew their pain onto the Internet, 24/7. 

Then again, I cannot find a better example of a book that could have been brilliant, if only it had been judiciously edited. The author may be a genius, but that does not make every word off his/her keyboard a diamond any more than the precious babies of all the other authors out there. 

We all have to grit out teeth and EDIT, EDIT, EDIT! Editing is absolutely essential to creating a book people will enjoy reading. 

~ * ~ 

Speaking of mysteries, the one below is likely my best. Set on the 66 waterfront acres of the John & Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, where I spent a number of years as a volunteer tram driver, the background is truly authentic. Although those who have only visited the Ringling since the major building boom that saw the rise of a huge Circus Museum, new restaurants, etc., will think I made it all up. The setting of The Art of Evil, however, is exactly as the Ringling was before all the new buildings.

Someone is killing people at the Bellman Museum, staging the deaths as bizarre works of art scattered over the museum's sixty-six tropical acres. FBI Special Agent Aurora "Rory" Travis, broken in body and spirit, shuns the world as a tram driver at the museum until a friend becomes a suspect in one of the deaths. Rory's self-appointed investigation is complicated by the appearance of a mystery man who hops onto her tram in the midst of a thunderstorm and the arrival on site of a determined Sarasota PD detective. In the end, only one of the new men in her life is watching her back when Rory is forced to confront her worst fears as she goes one-on-one with the villain.

~ *~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

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