It’s hard being a moderate because as good as waffles are (WANT), waffling seriously slows your writing down. We moderates are a winging, nitpicky, soppy bunch of indecisive saps obsessed with our own level-headedness.
“That seems a bit much,” the moderate in me cautions. “Yes, waffling occurs, but perhaps it is better to be level-headed than hot-headed. Shall we discuss it over tea?”
No! No time! I’ve already begun this post eight different ways now, but I can’t get a short, snappy topic sentence because you, O Moderate Dear, will not shut up. So, without further ado, this is what I mean:
Some books are bad enough to be burned.
But that’s no good at all! Because now you think I’m either a crazy Christian or a reprobate of a writer who ought to be thrown into the flames along with the literature I propose to burn. And so, the moderate must win as I waffle my way down from such a strong statement.
I’ve heard teachers encourage their classes to be inquisitive by saying, “There are no stupid questions” and then for the next fifteen minutes be forced to answer seven variations on “If I don’t do my homework what happens?” These poor, well-meaning teachers can do nothing but answer, trapped by their own misguided encouragement. There are stupid questions—many of them—just like there are Bad Books.
There is no universal “bad book,” of course, but variations on a theme. The book I find bad enough to forget so thoroughly that I read it twice without realizing it—Eregon—might be a national best-seller and quite enjoyable to others. Everyone has their own their own standards, their likes and dislikes. Here are mine:
· original plot that becomes apparent quickly and moves smoothly, without contrivances
· complete dearth of clichés
· full, memorable characters who develop throughout
· snappy dialogue
· surprisingly talented people
· women who aren’t stupid
And I prefer it if there are swords and adventure and thieves and magic. And dragons are good too. But I’m flexible.
There is not enough time in this world to read all of the books that should not be burned. In the meantime, I hold a significant grudge against the books I do take the time to begin which are not up to snuff.
This post prompted by the awfulness of Joe Abercrombie and his nightmare of a book called The Blade Itself. If I could fit more cliché characters into a wandering plot speaking such awkwardly unrealistic dialogue, I might have to burn my own book.
“Then again,” the moderate chides, “he’s actually finished a book, dull though it may be. And you have not.”
It’s hard being a moderate.
 I am. Jesus is pretty damn awesome.
 Call me a feminazi, but even misogynist male writers ought to be able to have a few female characters that don’t suck and aren’t merely stock. We make up half the population, give or take, after all and a much higher but yet undetermined percentage of the reading population.
Disclaimer: I have very little say on where the pictures go on these posts. Apparently the internet is stronger than I am. Who knew?