Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why Is Bad Writing So Good?...

I've talked about stuff like this before. The reasons behind the popularity of books such as 'Twilight' and '50 Shades of Grey'.

Writers have dubbed these books as horrible, poorly written and slop.

Readers gobble these books up , though, so why is that? If we're going to be Book Snobs, we better be prepared for the inevitable backlash.

One of my best friends loved the 'Twilight' series. We go round and round about it, but she does have a sense of humor when it comes to all the jokes bashing it on Facebook.

Her argument is this: She's not a writer, she's a reader and she enjoyed the story. She didn't sit there and analyze every sentence/paragraph/chapter. She enjoyed the book at face value. The poor writing didn't bother her in the least.

While I have to agree with her on some points, and I do, there is still more to the story I don't like. Even if I think the writing isn't that great.

Because of this, though, I'm not even going to go near '50 Shades'. Lots of reasons behind it aside from the whole debate online about it being poorly written. Plain and simple, it isn't the sort of genre I would choose to read. I can tolerate a good, well written romance, but I won't be delving into this book anytime soon just because of the touchy topic.

No pun intended.

But this is what it boils down to when we are faced with a poorly written book that becomes wildly popular and sells millions of copies:

We hate it.

Why? Because we work so hard at honing our craft and selling the measly 50+ copies a month. We push our books like crack. We pimp them out like hookers. We struggle, we work hard and we sacrifice so much of our selves and our lives. Then comes along some weak, viral sensation and we all stand, mouths agape at the hordes of people clamoring to get said book. Movie deals are made and we still work that second job hoping that someday our skills will pay the bills.

Would we be so jealous of a well written book? I don't think so. I see all the support for authors such as J. R. R. Martin and his 'Game of Thrones'. Same can be said for the 'Hunger Games' series as well as for Ms. Rowling's super success.

Those are the people we strive to be like. One day, maybe we will.

While I don't want to speak for any of you, what are your thoughts on the subject?


H.C. said...

I would say that it is not a matter of jealousy at authors that produce what is at best a "pot-boiler" and at worse the height of mediocrity.

I believe it is a matter of anger at the fact that such rubbish is being cleared for printing, disgust that an author that has no talent is locked into a contract with a publisher, at the public that has somehow lost it's taste in reading material is buying up volumes as though they were penny candy, whilst the truly talented are struggling with seeing their best efforts come to fruition in a market that has but a handful of readers that truly prize their work for what it is.

And yes, people like Rowling, Tolkien et al are or were the personifications of truly talented, imaginative writers that put in the effort, the blood, sweat and tears into each sentence scribed, each chapter written. Why? Because they are the true role models all writers of fiction look up to and endeavor to emulate in their own way. A well written book is something to be prized highly, read avidly cover to cover, unlike certain other works that are best consigned to the dust-bin of history.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

On fifty shades of grey, I think the marketing and the fact that sex sells resonates with a lot of people. And there really isn't any comparison between George R.R. Martin and Rowling.

George has sold 16 million books.

J.K. Rowling has sold 500 million. The gulf between those two writers in sheer sales is staggering.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Really loved how you put it in this post, and your quote from your reader friend resonates the truth of the matter: "I'm not a writer, I'm a reader and I enjoyed it." The books that rise to the top have something that hooks a reader, and leaves the reader stunned in some way so that he has to tell everyone he knows about that book.

Nicholas said...

A story is a story is a story. Unfortunately, it boils down to what a reader likes. I have friends that rave about Terry Brooks. I don't think Terry Brooks is a bad author, I just can't bear to read the books. I have tried to and just couldn't get into any of his work. Comparing Rowling to Martin is not really fair. Rowling started with a book meant for children and it progressed with a generation (very ingenious really) Martin's writing does not appeal to all people and isn't written for the younger crowd. So it makes sense that Rowling has sold that many books, not to mention her style flows. All that aside, I think you write what you feel and in the end, people will love it or they will hate it. I think as long as YOU love it that is what counts. People might not jump on the first, second, or even third book. Once a reader does, they will try and read everything you've ever written.

Unknown said...

What grinds my gears most of all about the whole 50 shades/Twilight phenomenon is that people openly admit that it's badly written but they read it anyway. I don't get that. I can happily sit through a terrible movie because I know it'll be over in an hour or so. But with a book you're investing a lot more time in it, why don't you invest it in something a little better.

I've only come across one person who's been honest about their reading of 50 shades, saying "I read it for the sex and nothing else". I respect their honesty.

Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom

Mel Chesley said...

I think you have all hit your respective nails on the head.

I wasn't, in essence, comparing Rowling to Martin. I was just using their success and their hard work effort for the craft of writing as an example of who I personally strive to be.

Jamie, did you just say 'Grinds my gears'? XD

Anonymous said...

She's not a writer, she's a reader and she enjoyed the story. She didn't sit there and analyze every sentence/paragraph/chapter. She enjoyed the book at face value. The poor writing didn't bother her in the least.

This is such a great point, and it is one reason I don't beat up on the Twilight fans, because I really enjoyed the first couple of books.

50 Shades however is different. I won't touch that because the message of subjegation is disgusting and has no place in modern society.