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Petalon: Cornelius W Hyzer, Sr

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

History flows like a river with tributaries and small streams feeding it on its inexorable journey to the sea. Sometimes it is blocked by ice or artificial dams, but it always breaks through. Floods and droughts change the level of the water, making it flow faster or slower, destructively or congenially. Most people enjoy the quiet times by the river, but historians prefer the rapids and violent waterfalls.

I read just eight pages of Petalon, which is a shame. If Mr. Hyzer had revised this book more thoroughly and paid more careful attention to the details, he could have had a real winner on his hands.

The little I read was full of potential: I think there could be a good story here, and the author does show an understanding of structure and pacing, which are both very important in fiction. However, his writing was often jumbled and confusing; he drops chunks of exposition into his text which further disrupt its flow; he makes sweeping statements which range from wrong to ludicrous; and he really needs to improve his copy-editing skills if he wants to hold his readers’ attention.

I did come across the odd undercurrent of excitement in the text: brief moments when there was a buzz of tension, which reminded me a little of Grisham and Coben. The difference is that both Grisham and Coben establish that tension early and then maintain it for pages at a time, whereas in Hyzer’s text it’s gone almost as soon as it appears.

Petalon looks suspiciously like an early attempt at writing to me. This writer has the potential to achieve much more, and to be much better. Whether he’ll realise that potential is entirely up to him, and the effort that he’s prepared to put in from now on.

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