This post applies to both slush reading and my foraging of self-published work.
Many stories simply don’t hold my interest.
I’m not talking about subject matter, especially in the case of self-published material, because I read the blurb, and that gives me an idea of what the story is about. It is that, given an interesting premise, the writer has proceeded to tell that story in a manner that is, frankly, boring.
Note: no friends, from none of my social networks, were injured in this post.
I recently downloaded a number of self-published works from the higher rankings of Amazon. And with all of these, I found the first few chapters written with insufficient storytelling skill to continue reading. I don’t mean writing at sentence level. I usually look at the sample, and weed out the works with clunky prose. I mean that the story structure did not enhance the plot.
But! wails the self-published author, wait until you get to chapter 5. That’s where it becomes interesting.
You know, buddy, I ain’t got till chapter 5. You have perhaps two or three chapters to convince me that I should spend time reading your book.
So, if you have something interesting, show me your money sooner, rather than later. Make something happen, I don’t care what. or make me care about your character, or curious about some event. But for the love of the great teapot in the sky, don’t use your first, brief, action scene as a crutch to spew three chapters worth of flippin’ backstory. Just don’t, OK?