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Writing about learning from a bad book

I read a terribly written book yesterday, all evening. It was so atrocious that I had to keep reading, to see how bad it could get. Pretty bad, as I found out before I went to bed in a huff.

I’ll not mention the title, as reviewing the book, or ranting about it, is not what this post is about.

Instead it is all about learning what not to do when writing a story: mounds of flat description, stilted dialog, adverbs and passivities strewn all over the place, zero conflict, almost no story.

I wondered for a moment how it got published at all. It looked like the very first draft of the very first story I’d ever written. Some agents and editors, I thought. They’ll publish anything.

And then came the sobering reminder: I’m not into writing solely to get published, never mind the quality. I don’t think I’d be able to stand the shame of putting my name to something so utterly without any redeeming qualities, lols.

Better learn from others’ mistakes and move on. That way, while my own stories may not be faultless, at least they’ll be much improved. So, back with my nose to the writing grindstone, and hopefully, to some good reading later.

But I do recommend reading a dreadful book now and then, reminds you very clearly of all the things you ought not to do while writing.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • DarcKnyt says:

    I don’t understand books like that either. I read one — well, the first twenty-five pages anyway — several months ago. I haven’t gone back to it. I just can’t.

    And I can’t understand how this got published, and it sort of angers me at the way writers are forced through hoops to get there, when clearly this story didn’t get the same standard. Why not??

    And who’s the editor?? They’re as to blame as the writer!

    Oh well. Strive to be better, I suppose. 🙂

  • uninvoked says:

    Get yourself a nice little red pen, and whenever you feel poorly about your own writing…edit it. That’s what I do with books I can’t stand. ^^ It’s so soothing, plus you can fantasize about mailing it off to the author if things go really downhill for you.

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