Monday, September 16, 2013

Unrequested Critique - Unconscious Lies


Unconscious Lies, D.W. Brown,  2013. 274 pages. DW has three books in publication.

I picked this book from the G+ Fantasy Writing community.

Cover

The cover depicts a red and brown cover, with some benches as illustration.

Formatting

The books is formatted correctly.

Thumbnail Description

A man doubts the world that he is in. His memory is apparently faulty.

Blurb

What does it mean when only you can see the strange people inhabiting your home? When you call out to your wife to un-strap you from your bed, but she seems not to hear? This is what is happening to Peter Lawson. He can’t seem to remember anything from his past, and has to rely on the words that his wife is telling him. 

Since he can't remember anything about his past, Pete must take his wife's word for everything. But can she be trusted? Why hasn't anyone around town heard of the firm where she claims to work? What is she hiding?

The dreams Pete keeps having about murdering six people seem too real not to be true. The feeling of sticking his blade into the old man's chest should've been something he disliked, but the fact that he enjoyed it was undeniable. Still, why would a simple woodworker enjoy taking another man's life?

Opening Sentences

After following the old man back from the upscale restaurant where he had feasted on a large salad, a Filet and baked potato, I stood patiently in his backyard, waiting for his driver to turn out the lights for the night. Two hours later, the house was completely quiet and I heard no movement coming from within.

This paragraph is supposed to hook me. Instead, it falls flat. These sentence contain far too much unproductive detail.

Writing

This book needs work. By work, I mean it nasty back alley fight with a chainsaw. That's not a condemnation. That's just the writing process. The manuscript needs a few significant rounds of hard work polishing.

Surprising enough, there's some style under all this mess. The writer does sometimes compose good sentences and paragraphs, but I don't think that he knows why some paragraphs are good while others are not. Quality seems happenstance where it ought to be planned.

The writer is striving to write a very difficult to pull off book, one that would give even a very good writer pause. The protagonist's myopic world is entirely underplayed. The writer leaves so many cards on the table. The human experience here, even if dulled by drugs or mental illness, must be vivid to catch the attention of the reader.

Overall flow is poor. That kills this sort of narrative. If the writer is to get lost, then the flow must carry him along. As it is, the flow stomps a bit this way and that, always walking ahead of the reader and stopping rather unexpectedly. Rather than help the reader, the flow irritates him.

Character development is almost nonexistant. The whole world seems to be made of cutouts, which is good if that is the intended purpose of the author, in which case I would say that the intent doesn't work. That sort of novel would be even more difficult than the one already proposed. I shudder to think of the difficulty.

The writer has a difficult time determining what is important, what is entertaining, what is informative, and what is excruciatingly tedious detail. We spend far too much time in the tedious detail section of the narrative.

Additional Comments

Get thyself a proofreader.

The protagonist, the person who tells this story from the first person perspective, needs to have opinions. He shows, which is great, but showing is the least powerful of all writing's powers. A first person perspective is, in the end, a discussion with the reader.

When writing from such a personal perspective, then the person narrating must be gripping. This sort of narrative is possible, so you should find a few writers who do this well and learn from them. All writing is derivative, so take is from Groucho Marx: steal from the best.

If nothing else remember: entertain the reader with relevant details, if not, entertain the reader with irrelevant details, but don't ever not entertain the reader.