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About Writing Right: The Blog


Every now and then, I get a question I can hardly believe. I recently had just such a memorable experience. Someone asked how much time your should devote to a horrendously boing book. Seem like a reasonable question at first glance, right? Here's what I replied, along with a couple other forum members.

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It's nice to see that at least two of the respondents to your question are clairvoyant. I'm not blessed with such a rare gift. So, I'm going to suggest that, in the future, rather than throwing a question out and walking away from it (and a question with no real answer, by the way, because you're asking something about yourself to which only you can reply), you think your questions through more thoroughly, word them more precisely, and review them more carefully before posting.


Now, how much time you should give a devastatingly boring book depends upon you, of course. But it also depends upon whether you're talking about reading it or writing it. You never say.


If you're asking about reading it, and if you were asking me how much time I'd spend on it (which you're not), I'd say a page-and-a-half max. Life is too short to waste on crap, no matter how worthwhile the subject matter might be. If you're asking about writing it, and if I were the author, I'd say the answer to that would depend upon how much promise I feel the book has and how much patience and talent I possess to turn it into a great work of literature, either fiction or nonfiction. Again, you fail to specify, and that might well make a difference.


Unfortunately, as one of your respondents recommended (assuming you're talking about reading boring books yourself), he suggests you give it a few chapters and maybe as many as ten before making a decision on whether or not to continue. Which is ridiculous advice. What he fails to consider is that chapters mean zero when it comes to pages in a book. They may consist of a single page or fifty. I doubt that even he would stick around, reading a boring book, for the first ten chapters if that translated into five hundred pages!


However, the same respondent redeemed himself when he suggested that you never read Stephen King. Nothing like going out on a limb with your personal opinions! Fortunately, in this case, he's right. Stephen King may be a good story teller and probably would have made a decent screenwriter, but as an author, he's a dud. A successful dud, but a dud. Try reading the first paragraph of ten or twelve of his books at random, including his latest, and tell me I'm wrong. And believe me, that first graf is all you'll need to read to know.


Greatness, it seems, is still in the eyes of the beholder.

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D. J. Herda is author of the new ebook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.


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