Monday, July 26, 2010

Question of the Day #627

While traveling last week, I searched the bookstore for a YA novel. An author I didn't recognize had four titles on the shelf, which at an airport bookstore, is a lot. So I picked one up, read great reviews on the back, one comparing this author (who shall remain nameless) to my favorite YA author and after reading the opening pages which grabbed me, I bought it.

Now that I'm halfway through, I'm amazed that this book was published.

The dialogue feels forced. The author "tells" the entire story. Very few scenes feel active. The chapters don't end with hooks. I'm not sure what the plot is. The MC pops up with all sorts of stuff out of the blue - like we discover a serious hobby which is probably supposed to have metaphorical value 80 pages in. And it's very difficult to believe that the MC would make the choices or really feel the way she does.

As a writer, I'm completely puzzled. If I took this novel to my critique group they'd pound me with revisions. How did a book that feels to me like an early draft get published when my writer friends and I have written manuscripts that dazzle way beyond this?

I just don't get it. What "art" have you seen that you just don't "get"?



  1. Had a similar experience with 2 books from a well known author. The first book was a "can't put it down" book. The next 2 books from her were terrible, unbelieveable and totally bad. I kept hoping I would like them. I just didn't get them, I guess :)

  2. Mmmhmm. I felt that way about Debbie MacComber (sp?) and several other books. I don't understand how this stuff gets published, I saw nothing to commend them!

  3. I like some Debbie MacComber books though they're not my usual type of read.

    I've had favorite authors put out books that made me go "huh?". There's an author I love, but, so far, only the particular series that are about particular people in a particular place. Her other books are not my cuppa.

    This is a very subjective business and I keep finding reminders of that everywhere.

    LOTR was a phenom. I loved The Hobbit. Could not get through LOTR. Don't know if I'd feel differently about it if I tried to read it today.

  4. Couldn't agree more. I am often baffled with some published authors, certain singers, etc... I guess they "knew someone" in order to make it big??? I don't know.

    A true artist (or corporate exec, or chef, or movie producer, or whatever the occupation) is one that doesn't let that sort of comparison get in their way of success; it only fuels them. So allow it to give you even further motivation and rock on Suzi & writer friends!

    What "art" do I not "get?" Please don't hate me - but ballet. I want to love it sooooo much and I just can't. Especially because I used to be a ballet dancer...

  5. One man's junk is another man's treasure! Perhaps you, as a writer, don't see the book the same as a casual reader who might love it. But I really understand what you're saying. Sometimes I wonder how things get through all that "filtering" of traditional publishing. It just goes to show you that the filter is not as refined as we'd all like to believe.

    I'm not sure this counts, but I do not get sports. I dislike watching them, playing them, and enduring people who are obsessed with them. :)

  6. I don't "get" Lady Gaga. I guess I'm drawn to more obvious and less absurd.

  7. I've bought books like the one you're describing more than once. After doing some research online, I usually discover that the author (a)--okay, wait a second. I'm not going to go there on record. This is a discussion we'll be having AT THE CONFERENCE!!! Sorry for the shouting--guess I'm a little excited. See you there. : )

  8. Oh my many movies! I just keep thinking, if every other person you meet in LA has a screenplay, how do movies like Howard the Duck make it to the big screen?

  9. 'Voice of Fire' at the National Art Gallery of Canada. It's a tall painting of three stripes, the middle one red, the outer ones blue. The only thing vaguely interesting about it, is that it was purchased for 1.76 million dollars.

  10. Well, in the commercial making world, I have always been amazed at who gets the work & why..."art" is an untamable / unreliable beast in my opinion. Its kinda like a**holes & opinions - everyone has one. I have never "gotten it" & probably never will. Just keep writing babe, don't let the hacks get you down!

  11. Timing, luck...that's all I can think.

    When I was a very active member of my local RWA chapter, a girl showed up who'd had her first book published. She'd been writing less than a year. She had no idea what she was doing but she'd fallen into the right hands at the right time. It happens every now and then... Like Stephenie Meyer. Although I think I would have rather learned my lessons BEFORE I got published. If my first novel were actually read by another human being, I'd be mortified.

  12. I don't get people who reply to online news stories and never have anything nice to say. "She deserved it." "He's a nobody." "That person is so stupid." Reminds me of a bunch of 40-year-old men posting from their mom's basements.


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