Friday, 1 February 2013

Fiction Failures

While I was in Zermatt I did a lot of reading - Kate Morton's Forgotten Garden, to be precise, and enjoyed it until I got to the very end and couldn't believe in the reason  the child was alone on the ship. I don't want to say more of the storyline, but those of you who have read it may agree with me. That mystery had been a thread throughout the whole book, and I wanted so very badly to know why it had happened.  I'm afraid the weak raison d'etre cast the entire story into doubt.
Then I read Goddard's Set in Stone. Again, a wonderfully atmospheric story about a house that twists people's minds, but then in the last few pages - a railway ticket in the post and I couldn't understand it's significance. I obviously ought to have understood - but I didn't.

 It is things like these that make me so very wary in own writing. Is the basic plot both strong and believable? Am I expressing character in the way I should? Is everything in my head clear on the page? Will readers close the book and toss it aside, saying Rubbish! because they couldn't figure out what was happening?

So now I've begun Trollope's The Other Family, and noticed something that has been annoying me for ages. It's the increasing frequency of sentences like this: "it was perfectly possible to hand-wash most stuff, not take it to the dry-cleaner's." I would rather the sentence read 'dry-cleaner.' Why add the apostrophe, which indicates the writer means the dry-cleaner's shop, if said writer cannot be bother to add the word itself?
I hope it is not the modern trend to write novels in the same sloppy, slangy way we speak. One of the things I love about reading is discovering the astonishing beauty of clear prose and I would hate to lose that for the sake of being trendy.

Zermatt - some hotels pick up guests from the Bahnhof (station) in carriages that look like the Wells Fargo stage in cowboy films. The thunder of hooves and rolling wheels as they trot down the snowy streets is exciting to watch, and then the whiff of horse as they go by -  wonderful!

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