Friday, July 31, 2009

The arrogance of some published authors . . .

The actual title: The arrogance of some published authors who don't sell a lot of books yet.

This author has confused published with successful. They have also confused published with all-knowing brilliance in the field of novel writing. Their acknowledgments and interviews have a narcissistic "I've reached the top of the hill because of ..." tone. I'd rather they have the philosophy that I haven't done anything until the reader says "ooh, I can't wait to read your next one."

Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind a published author teaching me the craft, what editors are looking for, or how to get published. But please wait until you're a bestseller before acting like one. Or better yet, don't ever act like one.

I won't go into anymore detail because it may be easy to figure out who I'm talking about.

Fortunately, not many authors fall into this category. Most of the authors I've met feel lucky to be published and they have an ongoing hope that their novels will be enjoyed by the readers. And they hope they have a chance to publish another without letting their readers down.

I stopped reading two novels this week. I couldn't finish them. One because of style, the other because of too many plot holes and inconsistencies. The latter was written by one of the types of authors I'm speaking of. He/she may be published, but he/she is not as great as he/she thinks.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The arrogance of the expert newbie . . .

This is one of my biggest pet peeves in the community of writers. There are a few unpublished writers out there who have taken a class, read a book, or attended a conference, who now think they know exactly how to write a novel the correct way.

But the kicker is, they feel the need to impose their newly found "truth" on the rest of us. Even going as far as commenting on successful author's blogs in an argumentative fashion of how wrong they are when said successful author gives free advice.

Now I'm not against anyone expressing their views, but you might want to listen to an author who sells a lot of books. The readers are the true arbiters of "correct" writing.

I have seen this psychosis before. Someone discovers the secret of something, has an "Ohhh, I get it now" moment, and then develops an arrogant gestapo like attitude toward the rest of us dumb rubes who don't employ these truths.

There is no one way to write a novel. Editors culminate years of experience to offer valuable but sometimes flawed advice. The reading public, however, can be hard to pin down. They want a good story, period. It's up to editors to figure out what that means this week. They all admit that if they knew exactly what makes a bestseller, then every book they put out would be one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm not supposed to say this, but . . .

. . . it's true. I have read published novels that I believe were inferior to my (unpublished) manuscript.

I know, I'm treading on thin ice here and I'm in danger of sounding like a delusional fool or an arrogant jerk. But, don't worry I'm a realist. I have read many novels that are better, and in some cases (such as Tosca Lee's), far better than mine.

Furthermore, I'm not saying those novels I feel rank below mine are not good, or not well-written, or undeserving of being published. I know how hard it is and I'm happy for all of them.

So, should I ever say this? Should I just keep my opinion to myself?

I believe there's a time and place for everything. (Actually that's not true. That's a crazy saying. There's never a time and place for nazism or cruelty to animals for example.) I would never say this to anyone in a professional setting. No good can come out of it.

These thoughts are better left in your own mind or in private discussions with good friends who know you're not delusional or a jerk. But then again, do you really know what they think of you?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Done to death . . .

I think it's time to put one (okay really two) specific tension raising device to rest. I think it all started with Dirty Harry (at least for me).

It's the cop whose boss issues him/her an ultimatum that he needs to straighten up his act or he's gonna find himself back on some lowly rookie beat. The other one is the fact that every cop finds himself and his/her partner in a battle with a rival duo in the department. (many times this rival is associated with the bad guys.)

These are done so many times that I'd bet if you took a poll, most Americans would believe this is as common in law enforcement as the stereotypical donuts.

I think this has been so infused in the American psyche that authors throw this in their novels subconsciously.

I know, I know, if you read my manuscript I'm sure you could find some similar device I've used that you could say the same thing for. That's okay. Remember, it's far easier to criticize others. : )

So, is it just me?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The king is dead . . .

Now that my reign as Writer's Digest' Your Story winner is over, I assume it's kosher to post my story now.

"The Truth"

Marty slung his towel across his shoulders and jogged a few paces to catch up with Caleb. “So what did you tell your mom?”

“I told her the truth.”

“Man, she lets you do everything. How do you do it?”

“I never lie to my mom.”

“That’s cause he’s a goody two shoes.”

“Leave him alone, Joey.”

“It’s okay, Marty. Joey doesn’t bother me.”

Marty stepped closer to Caleb and whispered, “But he’s always picking on everybody.”

“Come on girls,” Joey called out. “We don’t have all day.”

The trail took the boys through the woods and over two hills until they came to a large rock formation. Joey climbed onto a small boulder. “Here we are. The pond’s on the other side. You girls ain’t scared of a little climb are ya?”

“Boy, I can’t wait to jump in. Is it deep enough?”

“Yes, Farty Marty, it’s deep enough.”

“Stop calling me that.”

Joey reached down and petted Marty’s hair. “Relax, Farty, I’m just kidding.” Joey dodged Marty’s swing. “Besides, you got nothing to worry about. You can handle that jump better than we can.”

“What do you mean?”

“You see me and Caleb, we got muscles. But you, well, everybody knows lard floats.”

Marty swung at Joey, but missed.

The trio found their way up the rock face until they reached a natural platform. They looked down in collective awe at the clear, jade pool below them. Fed by a small stream, it was surrounded by rock walls save for one side where the water trickled over a worn shelf which provided a perfect spot for laying out in the sun.

“Wow, this is great.” Marty started to climb down the path to the water.

“I thought you wanted to jump in.”

Marty stopped and looked back. “From up here? It’s too high.”

“Awwww, what’s the matter? You scared?”

“No.” Marty stepped to the edge and looked down.
“If you’re so brave, you do it.”

“No problem.” Joey took off his shoes and filled one with the contents from his pockets. “Let me show you girls how it’s done.” He raised his hands Olympic style and dove head first. He exited the water with a victory howl and climbed up the path as he watched Caleb jump in. “Okay, Farty Marty, your turn.”

“Stop calling me that!” Marty took off his shoes but left his shirt on. He stood near the ledge and stared at the distant water.

“I knew you couldn’t do it.”

“I can. Just give me a minute.”

Joey plucked him behind the ear.

“Quit it!”

Caleb climbed out of the water. “It’s okay, Marty. It’s not as high as it looks. You can do it.”

Marty tried to calm himself as Joey chanted. “Farty. Farty. Farty.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Farty. Farty.” Joey plucked Marty’s ear.

“Stop it!” Marty turned around and pushed him. Joey stumbled sideways and tripped over a rock, stumbling down the path to the rock shelf below. Blood pooled around his head.

Marty and Caleb stared at each other, unable to move. Caleb finally walked over and put his head next to Joey’s.

“Is he ?”

Caleb looked up at Marty, nodded, and climbed up the path.

Marty couldn’t stop his body from shaking. “It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it.”

“It’s okay, Marty.”

“Oh, man, there gonna put me in prison. I’m going to jail.”

“No you’re not. I’m gonna call my mom and tell her what happened. It was an accident, that’s all. Don’t worry. She’ll believe me.” Caleb retrieved his cell phone and made the call.

“Is she calling the police?”

“Yeah, but relax. She’s gonna tell the police the truth.”

A moan broke through the silence. Marty looked down at the body. “He’s still alive. What do we do? What do we do?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.” Caleb started down the path.

Relief washed over Marty. He stayed put and watched Caleb. “Is he alive?”

“Yeah, but barely.”

“What do we do?”

“I told you. I’ll take care of it.” Caleb carefully turned Joey’s head exposing the wound. He knelt beside Joey, held a large rock over him, and smashed it against his head.

Marty stumbled back a step. “What did you do that for?”

Caleb threw the rock in the water and brushed the dirt off his hands. “I told my mom he was dead.”


“I never lie to my mom.”