I think she's trying for a Bulwer-Lytton

I found myself bookless, and in my despiration I went to the only place I can walk to for books- the Duane Reade at the corner. They have a little shelf near the checkout counter with a selection of about five or six pulp bestsellers. Not exactly a bastion of high literature, but sometimes I have no choice. I grab a thriller or murder mystery and hope I’ll be able to read it through to the end.
Last night’s pick was “Cruel Intent”, by one J.A. Jance. A wretched book in just about every way possible, one even I in my boredom couldn’t get through.
And so, to Bulwer-Lytton. I think Ms. Jance must have been gunning for a prize from that illustrious contest. That’s the only way I can explain the first sentence of the first chapter in Cruel Intent:

I kid you not. That really is the opening sentence/paragraph of Chapter One. The only thing that could have made it more Bulwer-Lyttonque would have been if it opened the book, instead of the bland, disjointed prologue. Her OP is perfect in its transcendant dreadfulness, like the movies of Ed Wood.
The sad thing is, there’s a spark of talent hidden in the depths of J.A. Jance. There’s a scene near the end where the protagonist’s grey-haired old mother cooly bluffs the serial killer into coming close enough to be Tased. It shines through Jance’s clunky typewriting in a pure burst of awesome. I only wish that someone would teach her to write. I personally feel that her work would benifit tremendously if her editor went back for another year of junior high school.

Massive infodump. Alas, I think that many readers insist on it.

A decent rewriting of the sentence would be, “For the hundredth time that day, Ali Reynolds* asked herself why she got talked into doing this.”

But some readers are used to newspaper-style prose (Dan Brown, I’m looking at you) and would be confused by the fact that they didn’t know the background.

*Didn’t she used to pitch for the Yankees?

There’s a big difference between a best-*selling *author and a best-*writing *author.

Yep, readers want this. It gives them the entire backstory in a single paragraph and ensures that they don’t have to be confused or waste time trying to figure out what the situation is.

Why are there crappy novels? The same reason that there are crappy tv shows and crappy movies. They sell better. Going for the middle two-thirds of the bell curve is a better model than going for the top third.

It comes up later as a family joke. Awkwardly dumped into the text, of course. I think it was supposed to be humorous.

My favorite part is MCMR: there’s no reason to introduce that abbreviation there and it makes the sentence even more gnarled. Sorry you had to read this, Malleus, Incus, Stapes!, but the good news is it made me feel better about my own writing. :stuck_out_tongue:

Even if you think you need the info dump, the sentence could be shorter.

“For the hundredth time Ali Reynolds asked herself why she’d ever let her agent Jacky Jackson talk her into being a part of Mid-Century-Modern Renovations, a program documenting restoration projects which saved old twentieth-century American houses from destruction.”

Nope, that’s still too much. There are two full names in that sentence – leave out the agent’s name. And she can describe the project in dialogue with someone who asks her what she’s doing.

Right, but I was going by the idea that readers want all that info in one sentence.

For the hundredth time that day, Ali Reynolds farted.