A close friend sent me a children’s book to review for an English newspaper. The book had been self-published by my friend’s friend. I finished reading it in one sitting. After I closed the book, I felt a strong sense of being cheated.
The theme was wonderful: supernatural elements and previous births are pan Indian favourites. The writer could have written a thriller or a racy whodunit, but all that the reader got was a flat main character, clueless about what he had to do with his talent (of being able to see his previous lives in visions). The previous lives were never shown. Though the book was written in a simple and easy to read style for a ten year old, it was absolutely boring. The writer’s lack of interest showed.
It made me think. Writers can commit sins. Not murder or robbery. But literary sin. The two sins we are prone to committing are the Sin of Boring the Readers and the Sin of Cheating Readers.
The writer whose book I had finished reading had committed those two sins. When I opened the first page I expected a thrilling paranormal ride, hurtling the protagonist as well as me, through a terrain of different births. But I was disappointed. All that the writer showed were dull glimpses of just one birth (the current one) and nothing else. The ten year old was trapped in a dull life which the writer had not bothered to spice up. I wonder why the writer had chosen an amazing topic and been indifferent to it.
These two sins make me shudder. I would hate to commit them. We can bore our readers to death by dull and flat descriptions. We can cheat them by not exploring the theme of our books to their full potential.
When readers buy our books they are literally buying a ticket for a joy ride. Thrills, spills and tumbles will be expected. So, if all they experience is a flat monochromatic journey, at just one speed, they are going to be disappointed.
Have you left a book halfway due to boredom? Have you ever felt cheated after reading a book? Have you ever picked up a book expecting certain experiences and been sorely disappointed?