Recently, (Okay, it was actually quite a few weeks ago now. I won’t say how long this post has been sitting in my drafts queue) a friend linked me to some Labyrinth fanfiction (mmm… David Bowie in that codpiece…). Yes, I love fanfiction and fully support fanficcers everywhere, but that’s a separate post. One of the stories she linked to incorporated a very apropos song, Der Erlkönig, into the story. I am sure the author was going for clever and witty and lyrical. In reality, it just came across as heavy-handed and unreadable. I got bogged down by the cleverness because it was so apparent.
Cleverness, like most artistic treatments, requires a deft hand and a light touch. I don’t want to be thrown out of a story because I can see you beneath the masks and glitter and costumes. And yes, I know that it’s just fanfic, but I have high standards for everything I read.
Because of the heavy-handed use of the song, I just could not finish this story. Everything else about the writing was spot on. The story was interesting and original and the writer definitely knows how to evoke images in her readers’ minds, but I just could not get past that one misstep.
I’ve done it with published authors as well. If I can see behind the curtain too far, if I can see the gears of the machine in too fine a detail, I’m no longer entranced. The magic is gone and there’s no getting it back for me.
Do you have any quirks about reading that will make you put down a piece and not finish it?