I just finished a book that was sent to me in search of a blurb. It was one of the most thrilling thrillers I’ve read in a long time, and because the publisher was on tight time constraints, I gave the book a rave blurb when I was only about three-quarters of the way through. I mean, this was a pulse-pounder.
Until the last 30 pages.
“Before you kill me, you’ve got to tell me why you did it, and how all of your compatriots fit into the puzzle.” Okay, it wasn’t that on-the-nose, but it was close. Such a disappointment. I don’t regret the blurb, and I would read the author again because of the exciting 9/10 of the storytelling, but I really felt let down. And no, I won’t share the book title or the author because I don’t think that would be fair.
Folks, this show-don’t-tell trope holds from the beginning of a story all the way through to the last page. I think that writers sometimes get tired of their own stories, or they’re leaning face-first into the fan blades of a submission deadline and they sort of eject from the plot and characters, settling for, “Well, it’s good enough.”
And you know what? I get that. I’ll readily forgive that of an author I’ve followed and whose works I enjoy, provided it’s a one-off. I’ll write it off as their Mulligan book, their bye. But at that point, they’re on notice. The next book better be up to standard, or they lose their spot on the TBR pile.
This is why the bar is set especially high for new writers. Rookies don’t get a Mulligan on their first swing. They’ve got to slam that baby three hundred yards straight down the fairway.