I Like Cheese, But Not In Books

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I read three books on my Kindle (compliments of many hours in the car and a portable DVD player babysitting entertaining my kids in the backseat.)

All of the books I have downloaded are $3.99 or less because I search for bargains.  In this price point, I set my expectations low, reminding myself that “you get what you pay for.”  I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of them because the typos were minimal, grammar errors were not distracting and the plots drew me in.  I’m not bothered by a few technical errors if the story grabs my attention.

The third book did interest me, but the characters seemed a bit too perfect.  The unrealistic nature of the characters was most obvious during an argument between a husband and wife.

The man had been told he would never be able to go back the job he loved, and could possibly have a deadly disease.  Faced with a family to raise, restlessness of not working, and wondering how long he would live, he was sulky and being (understandably) difficult.

The wife finally called him on it and instead of being defensive, he readily admitted he was wrong and said he would change.  That’s it; problem solved.  All of his inner turmoil at having his life turned upside down was fixed by this discussion.  It reminded me of a sitcom, where everything is tied up in a tidy bow at the end of the half hour.

In my experience, disagreements haven’t worked out like this.  (Maybe this author needs to write me a marriage :))  After each discussion, loose ends are pulled together into a disheveled clump, only to unravel a bit before the next disagreement untangles some of the snarls.  Sure, resolution does come, but it’s a long process.  And, thankfully, we haven’t even had to work through the emotions that come with permanent disability or a life-threatening illness.

Maybe I’m just too stubborn and disagreeable, but my inability to believe the conflict and resolution booted me right out of the story.  From the distance, I noticed more “cheesy” eye-rolling dialogue that might not have hit my radar if I’d been immersed in the story.

I think we’ve all seen “cheesy” in our reading (and possibly writing), whether it be a word, phrase, situation or character that made us roll our eyes.  Do you have any examples to share?


18 thoughts on “I Like Cheese, But Not In Books

  1. Richard W Scott December 1, 2011 / 11:30 AM

    I suspect this writer had a similar experience, or knew someone who did, and wanted to “set things right”.

    I know that often, when I read a book with really engrossing (and seemingly endless) conflicts, I often scream at the author, “give this guy a break”, while knowing full well that a smooth road does not an exciting novel make.

    • jannatwrites December 1, 2011 / 10:05 PM

      Good points, Richard. I agree that the characters are more interesting when they have to weather a storm. I am a sucker for a happy (but not cheesy) ending, though 🙂

  2. Debbie December 1, 2011 / 12:12 PM

    I’m with you, Janna. Real life is never that tidy. As writers, we tend NOT to want to hit and keep hitting our protagonist with bad stuff, but that’s what makes a good read. Or so I was told with my first “throw-away” novel, the one lying in the bottom of my closet — too much sugar and syrup! I suppose there might be a case somewhere in which the bad stuff keeps happening and the reader thinks, Have mercy on this poor guy!, but I can’t think of an example. Usually I find myself continuing to read to see if the poor guy ever will extricate himself from the bad stuff!

    • jannatwrites December 1, 2011 / 10:13 PM

      Well, Debbie, a little syrup isn’t a bad thing. I think our optimistic sides want to fill our characters with all that is good…which doesn’t necessarily make for a riveting story. I’ve had many ideas that I decided I can’t write because I don’t think I can write them “dark” enough to do them justice. Maybe one day I will be able to, but I’m not there yet 🙂

      In my last response, I said I was a sucker for happy endings. Now that I think about it, that’s not totally correct – I like a hopeful ending; an ending where I’m left with a sense that the character will be okay, even though things aren’t perfect and issues might be unresolved.

  3. nrhatch December 1, 2011 / 2:20 PM

    Good example. Long live la fromage . . . but not twixt the covers of le libre! 😀

  4. Carl D'Agostino December 1, 2011 / 2:35 PM

    After 400 pages of sci-fi thriller or adventure/intrigue they wrap the whole thing up on the second to last page with the last page being an aftermath. Such quick resolution just doesn’t seem right.

    • jannatwrites December 1, 2011 / 10:19 PM

      That sounds like a let down after a huge build up, Carl. I’ve ran into that too. It feels like the author realized they met their word count, so they just slap an ending on there.

  5. jollof December 1, 2011 / 2:41 PM

    First off, pardon me for noticing you’re also a fellow e-reader! I don’t use the Kindle though. I use WHSmiths’ Kobo Touch. Really nifty way to read, eh? Anyway, back to my intended comment. I know what you mean by ‘cheese’ but I tend to look out for it more in movies and sitcoms…and yes I get the eye-rolling effect and I subconciously bellow the words, ‘oh please!’ at the same time. Sometimes I just think the writer worries that the reader doesn’t need too much ‘real-life’ and then decides to insert some ‘cheese’. Getting the right dosage would be impossible – every reader has their cheese tolerance levels, lol. Nice post and great title. Thumbs up (WordPress, an emoticon for that please!)

    • jannatwrites December 1, 2011 / 10:29 PM

      I’ve heard of the Kobo, but don’t know much about it. Those e-readers are great for keeping lots of books at hand without the need for another bookcase.

      Yes, there is lots of cheese in video art as well. Sometimes I feel like I might be lactose intolerant 😉 You are right that the dosage is tricky. It’s something I struggle with in my own writing.

      I’m glad you stopped by, Jollof!

  6. chlost December 1, 2011 / 3:36 PM

    This is where the old writing teacher’s advice to go out an listen to real conversations in a public place would make a lot of sense. I can’t imagine any conversation going that easily, unless it was written in one of those Marriage Therapy manuals where they give sappy examples of “how to fight”. Really…..not in the real world.

    • jannatwrites December 1, 2011 / 10:37 PM

      Yep, some real life conversation would certainly have helped, Chlost. I laughed at the Marriage Therapy manuals. It would be interesting to get one…for a laugh!

  7. pattisj December 1, 2011 / 8:28 PM

    Why am I in the mood for a sandwich all of a sudden? Maybe the author didn’t have any real life experience to draw on?

    • jannatwrites December 1, 2011 / 10:39 PM

      Hey, I just mentioned cheese, Patti…I didn’t say anything about turkey!

      You could be right about the explanation. I’ve got another book in the series to read, so I’ll have to see if it’s a repeated pattern!

  8. philosophermouseofthehedge December 2, 2011 / 3:26 PM

    Book bargains (downloads or library sales) are always an adventure. Sometimes I feel that if I took these pages out of this one and shoved them here in this book – and added a few of these pages from this other book – and maybe the ending of this entirely different book, it would only be an improvement – in fact it might be a best seller.

    • jannatwrites December 2, 2011 / 9:14 PM

      That would be an interesting experiment, Mouse. You should try it!

Got an opinion? Share it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s