Just in case anyone is wondering, I will put a book down after chapter five just as fast as I would after page one. I’ll just be angrier about the wasted time and money.
In one novel, the author did what authors are taught to do, she pictured the worst possible thing that could happen to her characters, then made it happen–several times. Problem was, the worst possible thing resembled too closely the previous worst possible things, and soon the story became repetitive. I lost respect for the hero, because he failed in each event to prove himself heroic. Actually, I lost respect for all the characters, and therefore the author, and, frankly, the publisher. Apparently the publisher doesn’t hire editors who would catch these kinds of flaws in a manuscript and correct them before putting the book on the market.
In another novel, the story itself ended long before the book did. Apparently the author kept writing to reach the required word count, but once the story ended, the rest of the book bored me. I skimmed roughly one hundred pages of artificial tension caused by an unlikely event. To call the remaining story “predictable” is to dilute the meaning of “understatement.”
More than one novel has been extensively edited early in the book, but major plot-failures become obvious as each page is turned deeper into the story.
Before you think these books were published through minor companies, you’re wrong. These were the works of major, established houses. And I’m not talking about little things such as word choices–“she said it this way, but I would’ve said it that way.” I’m talking about a collapse of the story or an obvious disregard for the quality of final product beyond a certain point in the book.
This reflects badly on the author, the editorial team, and the publisher–especially when some of the problems would be easily solved.
I’m convinced the only way to be assured of putting a quality product on the market is to either hire an experienced free-lance editor (which can be expensive) or find an amazingly talented critique partner. Authors, especially new authors, must submit their works for honest and in-depth critique.
The best way I know of to gain experienced insight into your work is to join a major organization. Every genre has at least one. Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, International Thriller Writers, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and on and on and on. Many of these organizations have mentors or at the very least, critique groups.
Seek them out and take advantage of them. You won’t be sorry.