Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fear of the Rule of 33

I was pleased to learn that R.J. Stewart (Ron), whose book I reviewed in August 2015, was one of eight contenders for best new novel in Colorado for Then Comes A Wind. The award was to be given at The Tattered Cover, a bookstore in Denver, and each author was invited to stand and tell a little about the publishing processfinding a publisher or finding an editor, or maybe how one connects with a beta readerbefore going on to a brief reading.

Ron was up first, offering a comment about finding a beta reader:
Well, I contacted "DrPat Reads," a book blogger, who reads about a book a day. DrPat has a neat way to decide what books to read. You just open to page 33 and read a little, see if you like it. (See my Rule of 33)

He heard a quick flutter of pages behind him, and turned to see all seven other authors on the stage, flipping to page 33 in their books to see what readers would find. One said: Oh, no, a sex scene! 

Fear not, writers whose books I review. What I am looking for on page 33 is past the opening scenes (which should be tight to draw the reader in), to a point where the author's voice relaxes to the level it will likely retain to the end of the book. Of course, if I read those 20 or 40 sentences, and encounter eighteen typos, I will not buy the book. (This is important; if you can't afford to hire a proofreader, read your own manuscript at least 3 more times after you are certain it is clean. It almost never is.)

Another thing that sends a book back to the bin for me is clich├ęs. I might read on page 33:
She wanted to fly again, but her wings were bruised so badly that even her own licks could not heal them.
or perhaps 
He had never dreamt that there would be a day to come when his relationship perched on the brink of a steep hill and could go sliding down into a dungeon of despair at any moment.
I would normally set this book down and go on. In the case of the book from which both these sentences actually came, it was written by a friend, so I won't publish a scathing review. If this rampant banality continues much further into the book, however, I won't finish it, which means I won't review it at all.

So let your scenes fall as they may on page 33. Sex, death of a pet, favorite cake recipe (yes that was on page 33 once, and it turned out to be a great book, too!)whatever it may be, it helps in the decision process. 

Besides, who knows what will turn your eventual readers on?

Camp NaNo progress report:
Word Count: Day 23 Total: 84903 words