>You get things like the alleged first chapter I saw yesterday.
I was going to talk about writing from the POV of the truly evil, until this thing derailed me. It is an amazing demonstration of just how bad something can be when written by someone who has so little knowledge of the writer’s craft they can’t tell that what they’re doing isn’t a masterpiece. By about the same margin as the Pacific Ocean isn’t wet.
This is, incidentally, a well known principle. The incompetent have no idea they’re incompetent because they don’t know enough to realize. By comparison, the most skilled are also the least secure in their skills, because they know their abilities so well they focus on their weaknesses instead of their strengths. Short-short-version – if someone tells you they’re the greatest writer since Shakespeare (or anyone else), run. Fast.
This piece has so much wrong with it it’s difficult to know where to start. It opens with someone arriving at the ER of a hospital – by taxi – after having been run over by a bicycle messenger at the presumably nearby airport, and he’s hauling his luggage. Despite a broken wrist. Apart from the clunky prose, there’s no mention of the injuries the messenger must have suffered – because anyone who gets hit by a cyclist hard enough to break a wrist is sending that cyclist ass over apex to land on a rather unforgiving surface. The gentleman with the broken wrist is certainly not going to get up and hail a taxi. He’s going to be evaluated on-site by the airport security staff, who *will* call an ambulance to get him and the cyclist treated either on-site or at the nearest hospital.
This, ladies, gentlemen, and others, is why we need to use a little intelligence when we work out what happens in a scene of our novels and short stories. If you need your character to arrive at a hospital with a specific injury, first learn what kinds of actions cause that particular injury, then figure out a way to have it happen without any complications you don’t want. While you’re at it, do a little research into what happens when people are admitted to hospitals, and how critical cases enter.
Yes, the author got that wrong, too. Firstly, any half decent hospital with an ER facility has a separate entrance for ambulance arrivals than the one walk-ins use. There is no horde of uniformed doctors and nurses in white coats milling around the door waiting for a critical case. There will be an organized path aimed at getting the incoming patient from the ambulance to treatment at the fastest possible speed, usually involving the paramedics and ambulance drivers running while carrying IV gear and anything else needed. They don’t stop to gossip about the casualty, they don’t let any bystanders get close enough to potentially infect the casualty, and they sure as hell don’t accept the word of random patients awaiting triage about offering to donate organs. More likely, said random patient would be in for a quick trip to psych eval after a dose of knockout juice and treatment for broken wrist. Anyone who doubts this would be advised to read this from start to finish. As well as the graveyard humor, there’s a lot of information about how hospitals operate buried in there, and testament to the dedication of ER and other medical staff.
That’s the plot of the chapter the author posted – and absolutely everything is wrong. In the middle of it all of our putative hero with the broken wrist reminisces about how much he likes being a school teacher (and speaking as a former teacher, I guarantee you THAT is wrong, too), and infodumpuses about a particularly vile serial killer due for execution (in a state notorious for not holding executions, no less). Neither has any noticeable connection to the alleged hero’s actions, or to the reason the prison chaplain is brought in with injuries that amount to DOA, not ER (knifed in BOTH kidneys, open head wound leaking spinal fluid and brain plus assorted other trauma? Not unless he got those injuries right outside the hospital carpark).
How can anybody think this is how things work? Or am I just too damned optimistic in thinking this sort of thing is too stupid for words?