Comment Translations

Every once in a while, I read comments by readers, which my wife insists I shouldn’t, but, because I’m a glutton of sorts for punishment, I do. The words on the left are what the reader wrote. My translation, based on the rest of their comments, follows on the right. I will also add that such reader comments were comparatively rare… but this is my way of suggesting that some few readers are, shall we say… less than perceptive. I say that, because it should be obvious from all the years of writing and comments that, while I do have a fair amount of action, especially in some books, I don’t write action for the sake of action. I write action scenes as a result of what people think, desire, and feel.

Boring: It doesn’t have a fight, murder, battle, or explicit sex in every chapter.

Repetitive: The protagonist actually has a job and responsibilities.

Anticlimactic: No battles or deaths to end the book.

Too much military detail: Forget about logistics, training, and discipline; get on with the slaughter.

Marginal excitement: Not enough battles.

Uninspired: The protagonist succeeded as he planned.

Poor Ending: It has a happy ending.

Pedantic: There’s actually explanation.

Too much political intrigue: Wanted more action

Tedious: Too much detail.

Bland: Too subtle.

Too PC: Women are actually people in the book, and men are portrayed accurately.

Needs editing: Cut out the details and get on with the action.

Disappointing: Not enough action.

Now… those are my translations… and they’re obviously somewhat subjective, but occasionally writers get to be subjective about readers, rather than the other way around.

15 thoughts on “Comment Translations”

  1. Josh says:

    So which book is this? Sounds like I need to read it.

    1. The comments are taken from fifteen-odd books, but the one with the most comments is the most recent —Quantum Shadows.

      1. Rose says:

        It has been my experience that sometimes the initial book of a series does not “grab” me – “Legacies” was one such. (Although I have since read it 4 times and find nuances in each reading that I have not noticed before.) I simply assume that when a writer is introducing a new world, it will take a lot of exposition to lay out the fundamentals of that world and for the reader to become familiar with the new set of characters. So I am looking forward to the evolution of the new series!

  2. Christopher Robin says:

    It reads as a list of why I read your books. They are more like compliments.

  3. Tom says:

    If … “The anthologising of short purple passages, removed from their intended contexts [… is] something which Ruskin himself detested and which has bedevilled his reputation from the start.” … is anything to go by then criticism is selfishness because it simply expresses ones own opinion usually expressed without supporting evidence.

    So why do you read some reader’s opinion of their interpretation of your work?

    Another professional opinion, the publishers opinion, I understand; but a readers opinion?

    Now I am happy.

    1. While I write as much for myself as for readers, the readers are the ones who pay the bills, not the critics. While I don’t agree with a certain kind of comment, it does remind me of my limitations. As for publishers, I’m most interested in what my publisher and editor think, because I’ve learned over the years that many publishers don’t like what I write.

      1. Tom says:

        … many publishers don’t like what I write.

        You must be kidding !

        They may not think they can sell your work to their clientele, but not liking what or how your write seems very unlikely.

        Their loss. Thank you TOR.

  4. Postagoras says:

    It’s one of the major “unscratchable itches” of the Internet- that someone can make a comment which, in person, could be the start of an interesting conversation. Alas, comments are usually more like Molotov Cocktails.

  5. Constance says:

    I’d rather read about people in all their messy glory, than explosions and battles and bloodshed. What drives a character to behave as they do is far more interesting to me. The story arises out of the consequences of their decisions. Instant gratification people are too impatient for nuance. What a shame.

  6. Lourain says:

    On this issue, listen to your wife.

  7. Bob Vowell says:

    I’d be willing to bet you’ve managed to insulate yourself from the 1-5 star rating trend of the last few years. If so count yourself blessed.

  8. Martin Sinclair says:

    I second the consensus above. I read ( and reread ) your novels because I enjoy a well-crafted world-line and plausible characters along with the well-thought-through views about economics, society and the environment. It boggles the mind that these people don’t simply find something else to read if your work is not to their taste

  9. M. Kilian says:

    The attention to detail, even the less fun for the protagonist, is what really hooked me onto your books from “Magic of Recluce”. In general I started using your books as a metre for other fantasy, gauging how much other books made use of species and race (and other such) tropes to generalise sentient interactions, in comparison to the *very* human interactions in your books.

    Sci-Fi was previously a genre I had little interest in, but I glided easily to it after discovering you had already written it. I love the choice and consequence message and very raw human truisms strewn throughout your books- many of which can’t happen from action and “excitement” alone.

    Does the character keep their shop in poor repair? What does it say about their work when a guest comes in to find it dusty? Or when a sawmill burns down because they didn’t clean the dust or keep water for damping on hand. The very realistic and near worries of money and sustenance. Even the consistency in a character’s wealth impresses me.

    It is perhaps disappointing because many critics will often air their disdain, while many people who enjoy a product never pitch in.

    1. Rose says:

      I concur with all of these comments. That’s also why I reread the books – a blessing during “lockdown” when the public library was closed.

      There was only one book where I didn’t like the ending. It was personally unpalatable to me, but in total keeping with the character as developed in the previous book. I can’t fault “the writer” for that – it was only my perception…

  10. R. Hamilton says:

    Those who don’t like happy endings might try “Level 7”. Spoilers: heavy-handed propaganda; _everybody_ dies. Those who want non-stop action might consider abandoning books entirely in favor of a first-person shooter video game. And those who dislike logistics might prefer fairy tales, although even some of them might have something distantly resembling logistics.

    Do you really need them? The odds of expanding someone’s horizons without their cooperation are rather low, I expect.

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