Welcome to another Author Toolbox Blog Hop post.
I’m back to talking about TV, with a twist: What I learned from watching/reading Good Omens.
I didn’t like Good Omens. I’m in the 3% of readers who gave it two stars on Goodreads, and if it weren’t for Aziraphale and Crowley I would’ve DNF’d it. I don’t usually talk about books unless I rate them 3+, but this is an exception because of the questions it raised.
1) Overusing Adverbs:
One piece of writing advice I come across time and again is ‘Don’t use too many adverbs.’ Good Omens is full of them, especially when the children are talking. Adam nearly always has one tacked on after said: Coldly. Severely. Firmly. Bluntly. Gallantly. Cue major confusion.
Too many adverbs leads to lots of ‘telling,’ which we’re also told to avoid. Surely it’s better to show ‘angrily’ with clenched fists, or let the tone of the scene or dialogue speak for itself? I found the amount of adverbs in Good Omens off-putting, but if popular writers are using them often is it a personal choice, or should we follow the advice to avoid them?
2) Errors and Abrupt Transitions:
Some punctuation was missing around the dialogue, I felt commas were overused, and some scene transitions were very abrupt. There was also a scene where ‘marital’ was written instead of ‘martial,’ which changed the context and was jarring because what kid says ‘Marital’?
Good editing is important: No matter what anyone says you can’t catch every error yourself. Editors aren’t perfect, but I expected better from Good Omens as it was reprinted by a top 5 publisher. Beta readers can also help by pointing out abrupt scene transitions and other issues.
3) Too many Supporting Characters:
There were tons of side characters, most of whom were given too much development, like call centre workers and a biker gang, and I was constantly wondering when Aziraphale and Crowley would be back. Some characters felt irrelevant, others I didn’t care about, and there were so many it felt like no one was particularly important.
Carefully consider which characters need developing, and what details are necessary to the story. Some characters don’t need much backstory or detail, and some may not need to appear at all. TV Good Omens cuts some characters, which improved it as there were less tangents!
4) An Unsatisfying Ending:
I’m picky about endings: I still won’t see How to Train Your Dragon 3, and I found the end of Good Omens anti-climatic. Aziraphale and Crowley’s actions made little difference, and the conclusion felt a bit lacklustre. The more I think about it, the more I think that was probably the point though, it just went over my head and I prefer big battles.
Aim for a satisfying ending for your genre, that resonates with the start of your story, and ask beta readers their opinions. Good Omens seemed like it was racing towards an awesome conclusion, but it left me disappointed. I’m in the minority though, at least on Goodreads!
5) Sexism and Homophobia:
A couple of homophobic scenes in the book made me cringe. They were removed in the TV show, it is after all an old book, but I feel it’s worth mentioning. Shadwell’s character was toned down for TV too, to make him less sexist. I appreciate that some characters have prejudices, but we should consider if it’s necessary to show them in our stories.
+1 Thing I Adored:
I finished Good Omens, even though I didn’t like it and skimmed much of the book, because of Aziraphale and Crowley. I’m trash for the ineffable husbands ship. Normally getting into fandom warrants a 5 star rating, but I couldn’t do that with Good Omens because of everything else.
I rate the TV show higher, even though it’s practically identical, because of the extra Crowley and Aziraphale moments. I also loved David Tennant as a demon, the flaming sword, the witch hunts, and Aziraphale’s love of his bookshop.
If you’re like 95% of Goodreads members, or a fan of the authors, you’ll probably love Good Omens. It reinforces a point I’ve made before: Our writing’s not for everyone. I also think it’s a good example of writer’s writing for themselves. I can imagine Pratchett and Gaiman hashing out an adventure with lots of in-jokes mostly to amuse themselves!
Thanks for Reading!
One of my main issues with Good Omens is that it ignores a lot of advice we’re told to follow as writers about characters, scene transitions, and adverbs. Is it because it’s an older book? Have writing styles and techniques changed that much since 1990, or is everything we’re taught wrong?
Have you seen Good Omens? Read the book? Which did you prefer? Has a popular book ever disappointed you? (I’m beginning to think I should avoid popular stuff: I couldn’t finish The Princess Bride either!)
Chat in the comments!
This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. To read more posts from the hop, click here, or on the image below:
Next week, another short story: I’m practising writing in preparation for year two of university!