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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

   
Author Topic: The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
wetwilly
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I'm reading The Secret Speech, sequel to Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith. What I have to say applies to both books.

These are great stories. Interesting characters in gripping dilemmas, pacing that keeps things exciting, just all around good stories.

However, the writing is sub-par, in my opinion. On a linguistic level, the writing is dull, flat, uninteresting. There are mistakes that it seems to me some editor somewhere along the line should have called him out on: dangling modifiers all over the place, "-ing" sentences that make actions simultaneous when they're clearly meant to be serial, and other faults that I think of as rookie mistakes. Descriptions are either lackluster, cliche, or straining so hard to be cool, novel descriptions that they become silly. Just all around mediocre writing, maybe even less than mediocre.

The lesson for me as a writer is, I really don't give a damn about the crappy writing, because the concept is so cool and the story is so good. Maybe I should shift my efforts in my own writer's education away from "writing well" and more toward "telling better stories."

I just wish there were some way to identify my own weaknesses as a story teller. I've got a pile of stories that I think are great stories, but I can't get a soul to touch a single one of them. The problem is, I really love these stories, and don't know what is lacking in them.

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MattLeo
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It seems to me you're in a good place.

No story is perfect, and you've reached the point where the fact that a story is good doesn't blind you to its faults. On the other hand, you aren't blind to the fact the story *is* good *despite* its faults.

I'm not saying bad writing is just as good as good writing; I'm just saying perfectionism only gets you so far.

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History
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Conversely, I believe in perfectionism. [Smile]
Every story we write should the best we can make it.

Of course, what we think is "great", another may think is drek. A reader's story enjoyment is often a matter of taste.

As is the perception of "perfection".

If you like, you may email me what you think is your absolute best short story, and I'll give you an honest opinion of anything "lacking" I find--with the understanding this is just from my own solitary opinion.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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wetwilly
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Oh, I believe in perfection, too. At least as a goal. If this book had the linguistic part locked down, it would be a lot better than it is. It would probably be brilliant instead of good. But I've learned that the great story can overcome the bad writing.

I think (I may be wrong) I'm stronger in the writing than the storytelling, so maybe I'm the opposite of him.

I would be insane to pass up that offer, Dr. Bob. Will think on it and send one over tonight. Thanks!

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