The Sculptor by Gregory Funaro is not a book I would have read a second time had it not been for class. This is not because reading it the first time caused any serious damage to my writerly intellect or resulted in my body parts falling off and becoming plastinated. It was entertaining enough, even if only for the fact someone sat down and wrote it and someone else sat down and published it. It just wasn’t something I would have wanted to revisit.
Of course, since I have read it again, this second reading did serve a bigger purpose other than giving me something to write about in this blog post. I was able to devise a list of three things I’ve decided I won’t do if I set out to write a book about a serial killer:
- I will not refer to a character as “the pretty art history professor” (Funaro 143) or “the shy art history professor” (Funaro 200) or “this art history professor” (Funaro 131), repeatedly every few pages throughout the novel, even if the character is “this pretty, shy art history professor”. I feel using this repetitive and rote description for a character without any variation gives the reader some negative ideas about the story and the writer. There are numerous ways a character can be described and using a variety of these ways can help the reader see the character more vividly. It can also make it seem as if the writer cares about the character and she isn’t just a cardboard figure being used to reach a desired word count. Repeating the same phrasing throughout a novel can also result in a reader giving in to temptation to turn on the search and find feature (in an e-book, and the wish for such a feature in print novels) to see exactly how many times the phrasing turns up.
- I will not have a character come out from under sedation and give a dissertation with numerous details and then suddenly succumb to the same sedation that was always in her system. When a character is shown in a melodramatic scene where she is supposed to be sedated and yet she can recite details about what someone questions her about as Dr. Hildebrandt does in pages 274-276, the scene loses its impact. That isn’t a good way to provide an info dump.
- I’ll insist on yet another set of eyes proofing the book so that mistakes such as an urban dialect being portrayed with the phrasing, “I’ll roll which-you, lover” (Funaro, 204) does not make it into final print. This would help the novel present a much more professional view of the writing world.
- I will not create a villain that is uber smart, mad rich, superhero strong, and pretty much invincible, unless he is a supernatural being. Even then, if there are to be no weaknesses or limitations, I feel the reader should be warned of this up front. To pull a random, new super strength out of a bag and give it to the villain just in the nick of time is such a cheat to the reader. If the villain will always be saved, and can get out of every single scrape he gets into, setting these details out up front will not create false expectations in the book for the reader.
Funaro, Gregory. The Sculptor. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2010. Print.