I recently read a book by an instant New York Times Bestselling author. The book got rave reviews from a number of high profile sources, including Oprah. I know I must be missing something because I almost gave up after the first fifty pages of the entire plot revolving around the main character drinking too much, losing sleep, and how much her head hurt. One can only describe these three events in so much excruciating detail until it becomes tiresome. Besides, I kept asking myself why the protagonist never seemed to learn that her hangovers made her feel lousy the next day and stop drinking so much.
But I ploughed through, and once I finally made it past the tedious first half of the book, the plot actually got better, although there were still a few areas that seemed rather improbable, like a small woman throwing a weighted suitcase containing a dead body over the rail of a ship all by herself. Oops, sorry, spoiler. Well, I won’t tell you the name of the book, just in case you decide it’s a must read.
Still, there were several descriptions that made me cringe because I know that if I used them in my writing, I would automatically be negatively critiqued within an inch of my keyboard. The author wrote numerous times, “My heart pounded in my chest,” or “My heart thudded in my chest,” or otherwise did some sort of acrobatics “in my chest.” Well, duh. Where else is her heart going to pound? Up her nose? Behind her knees? I was taught that to say one’s heart did something in one’s chest was unnecessary, redundant, and an example of poor writing technique. Apparently not for this particular author and her rave reviews. Not that I’m resentful or anything.
It’s just that I try so hard to write well, incorporating all the rules of “do’s” and “don’ts” I’ve learned over the years. I know I still have a long way to go, as the last piece I had professionally critiqued bled red ink (well, red computer-generated lettering). But I can’t help but wonder why “bestselling” authors get away with grammatical murder. When I, as a novice writer, want to take a blue pen to their “bestselling” books and point out how unprofessional the words sound, I have to wonder if anyone edited the work or the book was simply given a pass based on the author’s name.
It isn’t fair. Why do I have to follow the rules when other authors don’t, and they still get rave reviews? The aggravation makes my frustrated heart hammer away in my chest.