it's the story, damn it

So. There's some books out there that writer folks don't much like but that the rest of the world, and I mean, literally, The Rest Of The World, seems to adore.

(coughcoughTWILIGHTDAVINCICODEcough)

First up, the writers are jealous. Oh come on! YOU ARE JEALOUS.  So, acknowledge it and move on, dude. I sure as hell am.

But after that, people STILL like to nitpick the writing.  Too flowery. Too plain. Reads like a 4th grade book report. Too (shudder) sparkly.

I think at some point every writer needs to come to grips with a simple fact of why these books sell. It ain't writing. It's STORY.

Girls (and their lonely mothers) apparently like reading about older guys sweeping them off their feet, guys who don't try to feel them up on the first date. Cuz, yanno, it's FICTION. We want it to be totally different than real life.


Folks apparently love to hear someone bash on Christianity with a little Catholicism sprinkled on top.

I prioritize my writing like this: Story, Clarity, and Style.

Nathan made the point recently that it takes a certain level of writing to get published. I actually call bullshit on that. I think it takes Story, first, something the editor thinks will sell oodles of. Then maybe voice (there's plenty of voices out there that suck).  THEN writing. (hoo boy, lots of sucky writing out there). Writing and style can be fixed, it's something we can work on.  But coming up with The Story? That's the crapshoot, right?  Actually, I don't quite believe that either. Good writers, the ones who get published, put a hell of a lot of thought into what they're writing.  It's something I'm just learning; how much damn thought writing takes.

What say ye?

10 comments:

Michael Malone said...

Good points, well made and on the button.

I think we writers can get lost in style - in that crusade for the perfect sentence when most readers skip along for the story to unfold

Beth Pasrtin said...

I like this post, but it made me wonder, what do you mean when you talk about how much thought writing takes? Wanna do a post on that?

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Oh wow. Thoughts on thought... that'll take some...

snicker.

Ya, maybe

siebendach said...

So it's the writing, not the story?

Three words:

Pride. Prejudice. Zombies.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I guess I'm not sure what you mean by those words. I haven't read that.

Anonymous said...

It's a book that everyone buys for the story idea. I haven't read it either, but it would pretty much sell whether the writing's any good or not. It's just an idea that attracts people because it's so absurd.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Yeah, I get ya. Like a gimmick.

王辛江淑萍康 said...

字是活的,人和環境的觀察是活的,思想是活的。不管怎樣,就是要有一兩樣是活的。否則都是平庸。..................................................................

偉曹琬 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債..................................................................

writtenwyrdd said...

I can hate the writing, but if the characters grab me, I'll keep coming back for the punishment. I actually made it through the glittery vampires series because the characters were interesting enough. Same with DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons. Neither really impressed me writing wise but they were gripping stories.

I think that LKHamilton's Anita Blake series has started to fail a while back, but I keep buying them cuz I'm so invested in the characters and have to know what's going on in their lives. Which, when you think about it, is weird.