I read pretty frequently, less so when my class loads are heavy but often enough to see a very common issue in a lot of books. It is more prevalent in books which the author intended to launch a series but many single print novels suffer it. It goes against the most basic writing instruction I received since I was young and it amazes me how often I find it.
Every chapter in your novel, just like every paragraph in your short fiction, must make progress in your story. They have to involve some event that is significant to the development of the overall tale. There are a lot of forms that this can take be it development of a character, elaboration on a plot element or even description of an important facet of the setting. No matter what, there has to be something important about what your readers are seeing.
I am working my way through a book that I've had on the shelf for over a year. It's a light bit of fantasy fare and the story is pretty good overall. My problem has been getting TO that story, as the first third of the book involved two characters walking towards a city. There were moments of importance here, with their conversations providing some exposition on the setting and some character development for the girl who is caught in a strange new world, but most of the time this comes across as heavy handed. It definitely feels like they made this trek simply because the author wanted to information dump their setting on you.
I think it is important to never view your novel as a link in the chain of your (possible) series. It is hard enough trying to ensure that your chapters provide the necessary information and balance that with keeping them interesting. Thinking beyond the point where you type THE END on your current work is dangerous. I am fighting this issue myself with Greenhorn because I have what I believe to be a solid idea for a sequel. I haven't even written this material down in hopes that I can avoid clouding my judgement on what is important in each chapter of this first novel.
For those of you who are frequent readers, or at least as frequent as I allow you to be, I will have some interesting information in Wednesday's post (which will post on Wednesday come hell or high water...whatever that idiom means) regarding my intentions for Friday updates in the future. Could be fun and exciting. Could just plain suck. Only way to know is come back.
Total Words: Novel - 12,900