|This is the Dark Side, KJA!! Don't listen!|
All that said, why can't KJA write a decent paragraph to save his life?? And/Or why couldn't LucasFilms/Bantam Spectra find a good editor to work with him??
I'm not a grammar freak - no, really! But when I read, I don't want to be reminded that I'm reading. There are all kinds of ways of accomplishing this immersion: solid character points-of-view that really get you inside a character's thoughts and perspective, effortless wording (in both description and dialogue) that feels as though it were easy to write, humorous and lively phrases and expressions and clever word play that makes me want to share it with everyone I know. I'm not saying it's easy - but when you're writing professionally, I think it's safe to set the readability bar high.
I'm still trying to get to the heart of what bothers me about KJA's writing (and "bothers" is not a strong enough word, clearly!) so I thought I'd find a paragraph that irritates me and try rewriting it. Maybe then I can get to the roots of my irritation and put specific explanations to them ... or not, we'll see ^_^
"Daala felt her nerves taut like high-tension wires running through her body. She kept her expression impassive, but adrenaline coursed through her as she strapped herself into her chair. Everything had gone remarkably well. The conquest had been devastating and bloody, but she had taken out selected targets 0 the appropriate victims - and the Empire's harvest grew stronger and richer with each weed she plucked. Se felt elated when she thought of the momentum of her triumph.
Pellaeon raised his eyebrow in question, but she didn't respond. The risk had paid off for her. She would always remain on guard, but for the moment the danger was over. Now she had to work on consolidating her power."
--Darksaber, p. 154
To begin with, get rid of descriptive verbs like "Daala felt" - right away I feel like the author's telling me something about Daala instead of Daala's perspective telling it for me. Same goes for the past-perfect ("had paid off," "had been devastating," etc). Not only is there a removal from Daala's point-of-view but sentences like "The conquest had been devastating and bloody" is a gross generalization that sort of takes the subtlety and cleverness of Daala's consolidation of power for granted. In fact, there's a really neat sentence in here that's getting buried under the poor craftsmanship of all the others: "...the Empire's harvest grew stronger and richer with each weed she plucked." How cool is that imagery! It sounds exactly like something that a grand tactician like Daala would think! And that's what this paragraph needs - more of Daala's fabulous and terrifying character.
With all this in mind, here's one way I think an editor could tackle this:
|Even Imperial troopers have children who need PBS...|
"Daala's nerves sang like high-tension wires. She strapped herself into her chair, schooling her expression into an impassive scowl as she considered the last few weeks of her campaign. Though devastating and bloody, she had eliminated selected targets - the appropriate victims - and the Empire's harvest grew stronger and richer with each weed she plucked. She smiled grimly at the momentum of her triumph - all went according to plan.
Out of the corner of her eye, Daala caught Pellaeon's raised eyebrow. She ignored it. The risks continued to pay off. Her guard remained up but, for the present, the danger was over. It was time to consolidate power. For the glory of her Empire."
There are any number of ways to improve this paragraph (and many others like it in the novel) - I just wish someone (read: THE EDITOR) had because this novel has so much potential for awesome!!