Friday, May 10, 2013

Kirkus Review

My Kirkus Review came through last week. It's a wonderful review, not only because I received some nice praise, but also because I learned a few things.
It's nice to read, "Driver-Thiel's well-crafted sentences unfold like a tight mystery..."
And I wish I'd thought of, "An inviting page-turner about turning the page on the past." Wow. Great line!
Because the review was so well-crafted, I also picked up on some subtler comments. There was a reference made to "empathizing with such a heartless character." Shades of my last blog post. I'd better start making my characters more likable. A few phrases quoted from the book now sound really clunky to me. I'm hoping that's a case of familiarity breeding contempt, but I worry.
Finally, one of the biggest frustrations for me as an author was coming up with a one-paragraph synopsis after I'd finished writing a 76,000-word story. My reviewer summed up the story, without giving anything vital away, in graceful prose that reads so effortlessly one assumes (probably falsely) that he/she dashed it off in a spare half-hour between a morning meeting and power lunch. While it's humbling to consider the reviewer's writing skills a good deal stronger than mine, it makes me appreciate the compliments all the more and look carefully between the lines for things I need to improve.
To read the complete review, visit:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Danny the Loser

Some time ago, I wrote a short story about a guy named Danny, a guy who goes to his 40th high school reunion mostly to see who else made as big a mess of life as he has. Danny's divorced, out of a job, caught in a quagmire of his own misfortunes. He's at the end of his rope, figuring he might as well off himself. (Just in case I ever publish this story, I'm not telling what happens.)

Danny is more of a loser than he'll ever know, poor sod. He's been shredded in my writers' groups and soundly rejected by half a dozen lit magazines. Even my agent spurned him. For the longest time, I couldn't understand why no one wants anything to do with Danny or the world he rode in on.
Well, here it it: he's a loser. Danny sits around taking all the shit life throws at him and never does anything more than whine about it.

He might be very much like more than a few people in real life, but he's not the material of real fiction. I wanted readers to like Danny, or at least sympathize with his plight. Instead, they hated him. One person even called him a "fucktard."

I still like Danny, in spite of his faults, and someday I'll figure out how to tell his story. For now, however, I've learned that fiction needs to be about people who do things, who face their demons, who suck up their mistakes and move forward. It seems that lesson also applied to writing.