An interesting survey on why readers stop reading:
There’s more here. It’s published by Lit World Interviews (I found it on a TLC facebook post.) The conclusions are mostly what you’d expect to put readers off (although I particularly loved Unexpected Sex as a deterrent to reading on). But they’re a salutary reminder to us writers that what we must do, first and foremost and without which we haven’t a hope of beguiling our readers, is to write convincing, enthralling, absorbing stories peopled by characters who behave the way human beings behave, in all our complexity. Obviously, you might say. But reminders are good things. Our language must be the best we can possibly manage and there are always better words than swear words (Shakespeare invented his own: we can too). Our research must never show itself: it must seamlessly underpin the story and a piece is never properly finished without a writer paying serious attention to her editor. It’s also essential that our publishers employ pernickety proofreaders.
Lisa McInerney has just won this year’s Bailey’s Prize for Fiction with
The Glorious Heresies which sounds as though it’s done everything the readers’ surveyed above could hope for. Reviews include: ‘A big brassy sexy beast of a book.’ Irish Times and: ‘A spectacular debut . . . a head-spinning, stomach-churning state-of-the-nation novel about a nation falling apart.’ The Daily Telegraph. And it’s already in paperback so I’m buying a copy immediately.
And, finally, the thing I’d like to have invented (discovered) in a parallel universe where time is infinite and all things are possible, is penicillin. On Melvyn Bragg’s 9 June In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 I heard this: ‘Life is small pools of order in a universe of disorder. Life has an inside and an outside. And what a bacterium must do – and what we must do – is preserve internal order against an outside disorder … by ingesting and excreting.’ (From What is Life by Erwin Schrödinger (he of the paradox).) One of the things penicillin does, I heard, is to block this in and outflow through the pores in the cell walls, and so inhibit the harmful bacteria. Penicillin was, as of course you know, discovered by accident … just as aspects of character and ways to structure a novel can be, although not, just as happened to Alexander Fleming, until a process of thoughtful examination is already underway.