Sunday, 24 August 2014

Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

Dead things had always been special to him.

This hooks. Even though there is a pronoun rather than a name, title, or station, we learn a lot about Mr. Pronoun. Too bad the next sentence is a fragment:

Their delicate coldness. The feel of the skin. The ripe, sweet smell as they decayed. As they returned to God.

Someone needs to a grade six Language Arts refresher. I know what this author is doing though. It's a common tactic to use syntax to heighten tension, but it suggests the ideas need some support with suspenseful syntax, Gothic grammar, or...possessed. Punctuation. When I read so many fragments like this it feels melodramatic and overwritten. Don't get me wrong, I like a fragment just as much as the next guy, but a barge of fragments makes me giggle. That's write, syntax does make a difference and can ruin the intended effect a writer was hoping for. Best advice, don't write like you are a teenager sending a WTF text message to friends.

The next five paragraphs:

The thing in his hands hadn't been dead for long.
Just a few hours ago it had been full of life.
It was happy.
It was dirty, and flawed and filthy...
But now it was pure.

These paragraph fragments are overwritten. It was dead -  but it used to be alive. It was dirty and filthy - synonyms in the same sentence waste time and there are way to many pronouns. All we can say for sure is that it is about it. Chapter 1 is short and fits on the first page. Chapter 2 starts with weather, American style:

It was pissing down outside.

A little awkward that to say that it is raining down outside. In my part of the world, one can say it is pouring down rain outside. What is more awkward, however, is how the tone does a 180 from chapters 1 to 2.

First thing said:

"Has death been declared?"

A rather peculiar thing to say, which is to say that it arouses my curiosity.

Verdict: Pass

The opening line hooks, despite the melodramatic sentence structure, but this won't phase most people from being hooked, if YouTube comments are anything to go by. So even though how the story is told isn't very good, that doesn't matter if what the story is hooks. Well, it should matter to writers, but obviously it doesn't as long as someone is making money.

Rudy Globird

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