"Heed this advice!" she said desperately
I was sitting in a restaurant the other day when my friend and fellow author, Tom Swift, happened to stop by and ask if he could join me.
"Yes," I said cordially.
He sat down, his eyes slipping secretly to the paperback book lying wantonly near my wine glass. "I see," he said insightfully, "that you are reading a popular author."
"Yes," I said affirmatively, nodding energetically.
"Do you like the book?" he asked inquiringly.
I wasn't sure how to answer. Both of us had just returned from SleuthFest, which was geared for aspiring writers. There was a lot of good advice about plot structure, the differences between thrillers and mysteries, and character building.
My friend wisely picked up on my silence. "So," he said flatly. "I take it you don't like the book?"
"It was hard to read," I said effortlessly.
"In what way?" he asked inquisitively.
"Well, I'm not sure what it was," I said perplexedly.
"How was the plotting?" he asked ploddingly.
"The plot was okay. But it kind of fell apart toward the end," I added brokenly.
"That's too bad," he said sympathetically. "Anything else?"
"The characters were okay but kind of cardboard," I added woodenly.
"Really?" he said shockingly.
"Yes," I acknowledged.
"But the book was a New York Times bestseller," he interjected suddenly, jabbing at the book pointedly. "You are suppose to love the bestsellers. This one got great blurbs. And all the reviewers loved it."
"Well," I said deeply. "I just don't know what it was about the book that I found tiresome but there was something."
Tom Swift gave me a nod of his head, shaking it up and down, and then added a small, understanding smile, displaying his Hollywood teeth. "Well," he said philosophically. "Some books are just like that."
And with that, Tom sauntered away, slowly and casually disappearing into the misty dark inky black night.
I was left with my thoughts -- and that bad book. I was thinking about all the good advice I had heard at SleuthFest. Really good stuff, even a great debate about talent versus technique. But one thing kept coming back to me -- the thing all the good authors stressed. Robert Crais had said it best in his keynote speech: "Adverbs are not your friend.”
He didn't say it lightly. He didn't it dramatically. He didn't even say it succinctly. He just said it.