Monday, December 04, 2006

Silver Lining

I just read a horrible book by an author whose work I've loved in the past. She's a NYT best selling novelist, and she deserves to be. But I really disliked this latest offering. A lot.

And it's such a good thing!

Because it reminds me that even NYT best selling novelists can struggle to get things right. For as many as they hit out of the ballpark, they still strike out every once in a while.

Also, I'm excited because I can pinpoint the things that really bothered me about this book, and they are mistakes that are fairly basic. TSTL heroine. Hero who showed exactly two emotions, turned on and turned off. Still not sure why the hero and heroine fell in love with each other. A villian straight out of Central Casting, missing only a mustache to twirl. A plot that made no sense whatsoever and a motivation for the bad guy so vague as to come close to The Evil Plan For World Domination as far as explanations go.

Honestly, not wanting to bash any writers out there, but I'm surprised this particular author actually made these kinds of mistakes. I'm not sure if it qualifies as lazy writing, but it's stuff that even I know better than to do. Her last book didn't have any of these problems. It was amazingly good. It was the reason I bought this stinker. I have no reason to give her a pass. She should have known better.

Which is cool because I can tell my internal editor to give me a little bit of a break as I'm working on my own things. If NYT Best Selling Author screws up on occasion, it's okay if I'm making a mess of things as I learn my way around. As long as I go back and identify the goofs and fix them, I'm heading in the right direction.

So often I focus on the books I love and use them to beat myself up. After reading a particularly well-done keeper, the reader inside me is sighing with satisfaction even as the writer half of me is cringing in intimidation. No way could I ever write something that good. And every word I'd written to date takes on a shabbiness that seems impossible to overcome when I compare it to the masterpiece I'd just read. I've just read something I want to write while being smacked with the doubt that I have the ability to actually write it. I see the top of the mountain but the path to reach it is completely invisible.

When you read a book that...frankly, sucked...the path isn't such a mystery because you can see the dangerous pitfalls and know to avoid them.

Sometimes it feels good to read a disappointment. It renews my hope that maybe I can do this. Because if NYT Best Selling Author has a bad day on occasion, it's okay if I do, too.


Anonymous said...

The last book I read left me with the same feeling. Filled with gaffes, plot holes, unnecessary characters and convoluted action scenes, and a villain who only ever talked to himself. Of course, this was a Buffy The Vampire Slayer book from 1999, so I don't think the author was trying too hard. I'm going to go read some S.E. Hinton to get the stink off me.

Lynn M said...

Oooh, I could go for some Outsiders right about now! Sadly, my beat up old copy is buried in a box underneath several other boxes. Kind of hard to get to. But well worth it!