Since many of my readers know I am a biker chick, I am often asked if I’m going to write about motorcycling. (And, in fact, I have published two essays about life lessons learned from riding a motorcycle.)
I have to admit, it seems a bit daunting. I mean, how can you write 50,000 words about motorcycling – and have it be interesting and compelling? What kind of plot and characters would I need to work it around (since my novels tend to be about how a character changes over the course of some major event in his/her life)?
In recent weeks, I’ve picked up a couple of “Biker Novels” to see what other writers have done with the idea of motorcycling + fiction.
I have to say, both books were disappointing. Both books were geared toward African Americans and featured black (or mixed racial) characters. I have no problem with that, except that I don’t get all the lingo, and it makes it harder for me to follow the story.
Both were liberal with the sex and vulgarity. Not that I’m against that in fiction, either, but when it gets in the way of the story … well, what’s the point then? I can read that stuff anywhere. I don’t need to read swear words on every page, nor do I buy that every chick in the story is a ho and hey, they enjoy it!
The first book was published by a small press that caters to African-Americans (from what I can tell; their About Us page is blank). The main character in the book had a believable ‘voice’ and personality (some fire and some weakness) that I liked – at first. I expected the point of the story to be how she changed based on what she went through; but I couldn’t really see much change in the end. I felt a little cheated that I’d spent all that time with a character I thought would learn something and become a better person.
The second novel was an example of why self-published authors get a bad reputation.
The book was full of typos, misspellings, and jumping from one character’s point to view to another (often from one paragraph to another). There were places the wrong character name was used, characters with more than one name (confusing!) and even a character with different last names (I assume that was an error). I couldn’t tell who was speaking half the time. A simple read-through by someone with a little editorial sense would have caught much of it. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
The plot should have been compelling, but there was so much confusion over who was doing what, and so much bragging about how “fine” he or she was (or certain parts of the body, or rough or flat-out violent sexual acts), that I almost quit reading.
And then there was the ending. It was building up, the mystery was unraveling, and then the climax (a character getting killed) and … THE END. There was no resolution; everything was left in the air. It felt like the author got tired of the book and just decided to stop at page 307.
This book was published in 2008, and I see the author has a sequel out now. Even if you knew you were going to write a sequel, you need to wrap up some of the aspects of the story, or leave off at a logical point. There was just no reader satisfaction whatsoever (and no, I don’t plan to read the sequel).
So, was I looking in the wrong places? Is there intelligent fiction that just happens to have a motorcycle-riding character at its center? Do I have to write it? (And I’m back to the daunting thing again…)