Saturday, July 28, 2012

In Praise of Skillz!

As more and more titles flood the m/m romance genre, I realize how highly I value a certain commodity. It was something I used to take for granted.

Not anymore.

I'm currently reading a novel I've found kind of boring thus far. It's slow-moving and, already, a little too angsty for my tastes. And I'm not entirely sure why the narrator so quickly began obsessing about the other MC, who seems more worthy of suspicion than obsession. (Insta-hots I can easily buy. Insta-bonding, not so much.)

I have plenty of other fiction to read, including stories that contain much more action than this one and move along at a brisker pace. So, each time I catch myself getting impatient and skimming over paragraphs and pages, I turn to another file on my Kindle or one of the print books I have stashed in four rooms of the house.

The attempted diversion doesn't last long. Invariably, I'll come back to that tortoise of a novel.


Because it's so well-written. The draw is as simple yet as complicated as that. This author can write. Thousands of people apparently have tales to tell, but very few are natural wordsmiths. When someone comes along who's so marvelously at ease with the language, and shows such mastery of it, I'm entranced. Hooked. And doubly hooked when I get a few chuckles along the way.

Even when certain sections go on too long (like descriptive scene-setting for the sake of local color, internal monologues, background-info dumps), I still feel driven to proceed. Losing myself in flawless prose has become a luxury, because there's so little of it out there. Engaging stories and characters are fairly easy to find, but smooth, beautifully crafted sentences that are devoid of errors to boot? Uh . . . no. That's a rare and precious thing.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't need Faulkner's or Updike's level of expression to keep me satisfied. Hundreds of pieces of fiction have held my interest and proved enjoyable reads. I'm talking here about something other than a knack for storytelling.

I'd love to name the authors whom I consider verbal artists, but I won't go there. I haven't read the work of every writer in the genre -- far from it, in fact -- so I'd be leaving out many worthy names. I just wanted to applaud the genre's true craftsmen and let them know how much I appreciate their talent. They might not be prolific or super-popular, might not be the biggest moneymakers around, but they're gold to me.        

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