How NOT to start a novel

Would you read a book that starts like this:

“As Father Miles Dalgleish cycled up the drive towards the Montague family home, Pendrift Hall, he took pleasure from the golden sun that filtered through the lime trees, casting luminous spots of shimmering light onto the gravel and surrounding ferns, and swept his bespectacled eyes over lush fields of soft brown cows. A fresh breeze swept in off the sea and gulls wheeled beneath a cerulean sky. Father Dalgleish was new in town. Old Father William Hancock had recently passed…”

I’d carry on but I’m nearly falling asleep just typing the stuff. I started reading this book last night, forced myself through two and a half pages of this kind of tedious description with no sense of looming drama or anything interesting whatsoever, then got to the start of a new scene: “The terrace was a wide York stone patio with irregular steps descending to the garden.” Why are you telling me this? Are you writing an article for Homes & Gardens Magazine, or a novel? I’m on page 5 and you haven’t remotely hooked me as a reader, you’ve given me no reason whatsoever to want to carry on reading.

Sorry, Santa Montefiore, you had one chance with me and you blew it.

(Why did I even buy the book in the first place? Because the cover grabbed my attention and it was on very very special offer and somewhere in the mists of my mind there was the fuzzy notion that I’d heard something positive about this writer. Oh well… I guess £1 isn’t too much to pay for finding out you don’t like an author…)

6 thoughts on “How NOT to start a novel

    • Interesting you say “novice” – you’d have thought so, but she’s had a zillion books published. I guess there must be a market for this stuff… but that market ain’t me, or you by the sound of it :)


          • I had a feeling he might not be up your alley, but I also admit I don’t know what you prefer. The first series of his I was introduced to was his Black Company saga, a dark fantasy tale about an elite military unit. It reputedly resonates well with veterans on the whole, and I guess I fall into that category!


  1. I find it interesting that she’d choose a literary name that had already been well established in P.D. James’ Inspector Dalgliesh. Perhaps she’s not familiar with the mystery genre, but you’d still think someone would have vetted the name.


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