Book Review ~~ Wild Horses on the Salt

2  out  of  5 quills   ~~   Book  Review reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

This is a good story set in the gorgeous, stark landscape of the central Arizona desert. Unfortunately it has some formatting issues that were a huge distraction for this reviewer. Every two and a half pages the author started a new chapter. The chapter placement interfered with the story flow. By the time I finished the book I had counted 111 chapters within 323 pages.  There didn’t seem to be any explanation for this, certainly not the two usual reasons for a new chapter; that is, the location of the story changed or the POV (point of view) had changed. Sagas that are well over 500 pages will only have 30-40 chapters. 

When Becca the heroine runs from her abusive husband out into the desert; the story is abruptly interrupted by a history lesson of the wild horse. Instead of focusing on Becca’s feelings of being hunted by her abusive husband, trapped with nowhere to go,   the diversion to the history of wild horses diluted, if not destroyed, the tension of her fleeing. 

Early in the story a driver, unfamiliar with the roads and driving too fast, collides with a wild horse horse crossing the highway. He loses control of his car and goes into a ditch. He hits a Saguaro cactus which falls on the car trapping the driver. The reader is never told what happens to the man and if and when he was ever rescued. The author continues the story thread of the wounded stallion but leaves the driver in his car with no resolution. It is very important that the writer pulls every thread and finishes any subplots. 

Another thread that was neglected was when the abusive husband suddenly turns up at the inn where Becca is hiding. How did he find her? Did he know she was there or was it an unbelievable coincidence? It’s never explained. 

 New chapters are usually begun when the pov (point of view), changes or the location in the story changes. A new chapter beginning every 2 and a 1/2 pages (as was the case with this book) was distracting and not supportive of the story flow. For example: Chapters 65-69 should have been one chapter.  Chapter 53-55  should have been one chapter. Chapters 90-95, again, should have been one chapter. The location nor the POV had changed and one chapter ended in the middle of a conversation. These are just a few examples of this misguided chapter placement. 

As I said, this was a good story concept but the frequent, (oh so frequent) chapter change badly interrupted the flow. And I am still  left wondering why the choice was made for two and a half page chapters?

How To Format a Novel

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Don’t Miss Part 2 of ‘Spanish Camp’

This Saturday my post will continue the story of our hunting/camping trip into the Primitive Area of the Cascade Mtns. in Washington state.  22 miles by horseback, dropped at a camp site off the trail by the guide.  His parting words were, “See you in two weeks.  If you need help it’s a two mile walk to the forest ranger’s station that’a way.  Good luck!” 

meadowFifty-two years ago and the memories are as if the trip was last week.  Beautiful primitive mountains surrounded the meadow we camped in.  Springs and ponds dotted the landscape.  A day’s hike would have found us in Canada.

More on Saturday!  See you then!




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