Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mediocre writing sells!

If you tell yourself, "My writing is only mediocre. I'll never write a best seller."
Take heart!
You may already be writing up to the standards of such best selling authors as Dan Brown and Ken Follett.

Have you read their books?
Dan's latest just hit bookstores with a resounding bang of success. Yes his writing gets lambasted by just about every writer, editor, and reviewer out there. But I don't hear many fiddling or muttering about his plots and storylines. And I've heard very little against the research and facts that twist and mold into something just a bit off kilter enough to make readers sit back and wonder just how close to the truth he could be.

I don't suppose it hurts to have Tom Hanks star in movies based on your books....

And have you read Ken Follett's two big sellers -- big in several ways. Hefty tombs in their own right. So weakly written I wanted several times to throw them across the room. Or more accurately to weep for what could have been if he'd only had an editor to whip him into shape.
He's been writing for decades, churning out best sellers forever, but I'm wondering how? If his suspense thrillers read like his last two.... But evidently that's not a deal killer!

Have you seen an editor's take on Dan Brown's first chapter? I'm not sure I agree with the editing that was done. He changed the voice to sound more like a formula romance than an action suspense novel. The editor's words got in the way. Although Brown's bare bones writing sometimes (often) gets redundant and inadequate, it leaves room for the reader's imagination to enrich it. Brown's phrases convey without inflating their little egos or demanding to be admired for the turn of a phrase rather than a plot twist. So there's something to be said for simple writing.

Ken Follett has such a rich story, so beautifully researched, but the writing lacks the richness of the story itself. Like a toddler learning to walk, awkward phrases and vast understatements, and sparse almost amateur sentence structures wobble along from page to page. But the details, the history of a fascinating time, the architecture, the interweaving of lives kept me reading despite the inadequate delivery. Follett much more than Brown left me nearly desolate with a yearning for what could have been.

So again I say, "Take Heart!" If you have a fascinating story line, plot twists that will start a cult following, and characters whom readers can't resist, mediocre writing may be all it takes to get your novel on the best seller's list.

Today's Exercise: Pick a favorite author, any author and edit a page or two. Or take an opening line, borrow it as the opening line of your own story. That's right, write your story based upon that line. It is amazing how much a great opening line can elevate your own writing.




1 comment:

Amanda The Semi-Published said...

So often I tell myself that I'll never be published, then I read some of the novels out there and my confidence returns.

Guess what. I've nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger Award on one of my blogs. Pop over there and have a look when you get a chance if you'd like. http://afortnightofmustard.blogspot.com/