On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Character Failure

I began reading a book by a new-to-me author and was pleasantly surprised. Then I got into the story and something began to bother me. The heroine was succeeding too easily -- there was little conflict or tension.

She had to pass a test of stealth by creeping into a building (I am changing specifics so you won't recognize the story). She passes. Oh, she is spotted -- but it's ok because it's the hero who falls in with her plans. She finds the secret panel. She steals the evil technological device and doesn't get caught. She returns to her base and destroys the evil device -- all goes really well. In fact, since it's the beginning of the book, you KNOW that the device doesn't blow up in her hands -- though by this time I was hoping it would and stick her into a coma at least...

There were a couple of bumps -- she made a stupid mistake in putting on a radiation suit before dealing with the device...and apparently she underestimated the timing on the device and it almost blew up. I actually didn't get that because I was skimming, I think, or didn't realize how close her call was, because I didn't get much reaction. And then, when she was apologizing to her mentor because it was too close a call, the mentor says SHE also had underestimated the timing...so absolutely no consequences.

Now, I like to be nicer to most of my characters than I should be (Tinne Holly is an exception, I tortured him for years, and he had the worst day EVER in the history of all my characters). But this book really brought home the point that there needs to be conflict and suspense -- failure and consequences. Sometimes I don't quite get a lesson, until I see the LACK.

So I am grateful for the author for showing me what not to do..., and, hey, I feel like an easy read, so I think I'll also give the book a second chance to see if there is more conflict.

May you understand lessons without having to make the mistakes today.


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