Thursday, April 1, 2010

ABNA Expert Reviewer's comments on "Drop Dead Cadillac"

Before I comment on their comments, here are the Amazon.com Expert Reviewers opinions regarding my novel "Drop Dead Cadillac."

Feedback: Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Reviews

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The strongest aspect of this excerpt in my opinion would be the eccentric writer. I did like him. Although I don't find this character to be a total package, I did find him somewhat interesting. I wonder if the writer and Black will need to team up to solve this mystery.

What aspect needs the most work?

There are just to many questions in my mind about these characters to find them totally credible. Why would a well known writer (millions of readers about the world according to black) live on the outskirts of a 'rotting corpse dumping ground for mobsters'. That doesn't make any sense to me, and this needs some work. Black seems to be some sort of private investigator. He didn't seem to give much thought to taking this job from a writer who may be a "certified" fruitcake. what will the relationship be between these two guys, if any? I think their opposing and strong personalities would make them unlikely bedmates for this mystery. But that is what would make this story good. The problem is we don't get any hints if this is a possibility or not.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

I could find this excerpt good, but that is the problem. I am not sure what is going to happen down the road in this story. I would love for these two unlikely fellows to have to join up together and solve this mystery. I don't know if that is what this write has in store for me though. I also believe these two main characters need some better development or descriptions for me. They just aren't believable with the information I have been given.

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The author doesn't miss a detail in describing the scene or the characters in his story. The opening sounds interesting and readers are given a good mystery in the excerpt.

What aspect needs the most work?

The book starts out too slowly and the author spends more time describing unnecessary moments in the scene instead of introducing us to the character.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

I thought the story was promising but it did not seem that original and we weren't given much insight into who the main character is. The author spent a lot of time explaining every little detail of the surroundings which will make for an absurdly long book if it continues in the whole manuscript.
_________

Now, it's my turn.

First, any writer must acknowledge that every reader will read what they want, not necessarily what you wrote. It is difficult, if not impossible to do anything about this.

Second, reviewers -- like anyone else -- make assumptions when they have only a section of a novel to read and review.

Third, their opinions are theirs alone.

Fourth, many of Amazon.com's expert reviewers specialize in nonfiction and maybe should not review novels.

What I liked about their comments were that, for the most part, I can easily fix the "problems" without worrying about altering the plot. Marlowe Black is a PI, which comes up later in the story, but really should've sooner.

The eccentric writer -- name withheld to avoid fictitious lawsuits -- is a man well into his 70s, has lived in his home for more than 30 years, it wasn't always a bad area. He loves his home, period. We all know older people like him.


An excerpt is meant to lead the reader into the plot, not to deliver it in 5000 words or less. Although it may not be apparent to the second reviewer, character development requires description of the character's surrounding. Thus lots of detail, especially in fiction is necessary and does not imply a story will be too long and burdened with too much detail. Just ask David Weber, Elizabeth Moon, Harlan Coben, Laurell K. Hamilton, James Patterson, to name a few writers who use a lot of detail in description.

To state that the writer's use of description implies an "absurdly long book" demonstrates the expert reviewer's possible lack of knowledge regarding the average length of a mystery novel -- 60,000 -- 90,000 words.

Lastly, I think both reviewer expressed enough curiosity regarding how the characters would gel and work to reach a successful conclusion, which -- while it could've been stronger -- showed that the excerpt did work in that regard.

Here is a link to the excerpt: http://www.scribd.com/doc/20069062/Drop-Dead-Cadillac-Chapters-1-2

1 comment:

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Some good advice - i think a character from a series needs a little recap at the start of each book for those who haven't read the whole series in order. Description can be overdone in some cases, but done right, it makes me assume this guy is important enough to be drawn in more detail. If there isn't enough detail in a standalone excerpt, the reader can find it too UNinformative, so that's a hard balance to strike. Humor makes more description palatable too.

It always strikes me as funny when someone "doesn't know where the story is going". Um...they aren't supposed to. I think if they find it interesting, they'll want to find out. A beginning excerpt won't necessarily answer many questions but the body of the story might. I can totally see a famous mystery writer liking the waterfront old house in a neighborhood with character.

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