Happy Friday Scribesters! Casey here.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading again lately. Frankly, my brain needs it. I have to gorge on other people’s stories so I can approach my own with a clear and joyful mind. Or maybe I’m just avoiding writing!
One of my favorite blogs is The Passive Voice blog (I highly recommend it for all writers or anyone interested in what’s happening in publishing). This post caught my eye – Good Writing vs. Talented Writing (the link is included at the end because I want you to finish my post first!)
The concept kind of struck me between the eyes: Writing can be technically good – excellent grammar, well-constructed sentences and still be lackluster. Or the writing can be good, but it’s missing that zing – the energy and zest that makes a story great.
Like many writers, I’ve read a lot of fiction. Some of it memorable. You know, the kind that gets under your skin and sticks with you a long time? More often than not, the stories are like chocolate: enjoyable at the time, but totally forgotten once the last page is read.
Sadly, I can tell (usually when the series goes beyond a couple of books or into the double digits) when the author and the storyline have lost their joie de vivre. Their enjoyment of each other has entered the toxic phase.
Why does this happen? For a lot of reasons. But I think one culprit is that the author starts phoning it in either due to fatigue or even boredom. I recently read the conclusion of a very popular vampire series. I’ve been following it since the beginning, long before it made the leap into pop culture.
I’m sure some of you know what series I mean and the author. Now, I’m not going to mention names or anything because I’m not going to trash talk the writer or her work. And I would appreciate it, if no one else did in their comments either (and I will zap it, if I see it).
No, no, no. That is not the reason for this post. Instead, I’m going to make an observation. Writers are people. Like anything in life, we can get sick of too much of anything – even a good thing. I imagine the lure of a popular series is too good for publishers to pass up so they keep contracting more and more books. Even when it’s clear to the reader that it’s time to wrap it up.
This happens a lot. Especially with paranormal and mysteries series. In fact, you can often see the “fall” coming when you see comments (on Amazon, Goodreads, forums, take your pick) like – “I’ve read every single book, but… (insert reason here) and I won’t be reading these anymore because (litany of complaints).”
You get the gist right? My other observation is that this is not always because the quality of story or writing slips, sometimes fans just feel like they “own” your world and characters and don’t like the decisions you made.
Back in 2007, I remember a lot of anger and outcry in my reading circle about the death of numerous characters in a certain series about a boy wizard.
Why did she have to kill off (insert names here)? She didn’t need to do that.
Since I sit on both sides of the fence, as a reader and a writer, my view has always been, it’s the writer’s world. They can kill off who they like. Or in the case of the recently departed vampire series, pair off the love interest however they want.
But, conversely, as a reader - if I really don’t like your stories anymore or I find that I don’t care about what happens to the characters or if I feel like I am reading the same story over and over, I won’t buy any more of your books.
Writers – all I can suggest is write every book like you mean it. With energy, with love and heart. If you don’t feel the love anymore, it’s time to say goodbye and let your characters go with dignity.
As Forest Gump famously said, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
What say you all? Do you sometimes wish your favorite author would move on to something new? Or do you have a different take? Please share (remember, be nice!)