Sometimes it’s so hard when you are struggling to get your first novel published to remember that even successful writers had their doubts too and weren’t always as good as they are now.
Take Harlan Coben for instance. One of the best selling authors in the world, and the creator of the fantastic Myron Bolitar, I recently had the misfortune to read a book he wrote in his twenties and just recently had published. Called Play Dead, it’s simply one of the worst books I have ever attempted to read. I say attempted because after huffing and puffing through 100 pages, I decided life was way too short and put it down.
What was wrong with it? I wouldn’t say it was badly written, but the main character the most beautiful woman in the world and her sports star husband, were too cardboard cut out for me. I couldn’t empathise with them.
Another book I simply could not finish, was one of Jeffery Deaver’s first. Called Mistress of Justice, it was appalling. This was meant to be have been ‘reworked’ some 13 years after it was published. Yet, it was the first book of his I had to put down without finishing.
As a writer, what have I learnt from reading bad books by good authors?
First off, you need believable characters. They need to have a degree of likeability if they are people you want to suceed in whatever their chosen goal is. Whether its finding a missing husband or child, running a marathon or solving a murder case.
Second of all, maybe even good authors need to get all the garbage out of their systems before they get to the good stuff.