Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dangerous Novels for Aspiring Authors

Any young person who wants to be a novelist should of course be a reader as well. But some novels can be more hazard than inspiration. They are often well-written, but their effects have generally been disastrous: they inspired younger writers to imitate them, they created awful new genres that debased readers' tastes, or they promoted literary or social values that we could very much do without.
Among the authors Crawford Kilian lists on The Tyee website are Tolkein, Rand, and Hemingway.  And I have myself just been reading the work of a Kerouac-wannabe who would do so much better trusting his own voice. (Pic of the author left.) Rushdie has a hell of a lot to answer for too.  Any more you can think of?

Also listed are those authors who might be dangerous to newer writers - simply because they are so  good they leave us dumbfounded!

1 comment:

Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

People keep on citing literary classics as a benchmark, but a lot of publishers don't want modern stories to be written in the same style and voice, as it is obsolete.

Take Avatar for instance (I know, it's a movie and not a book). Pulp fiction is thought to be dead for over 40 years. The Golden Age of SciFi, where the White hero saves a princess and a tribe of technologically challenged race, had lost its popularity. People want to be politically correct.

Avatar may be wildly popular (and my all-time favorite movie), but a lot of people are against it, saying how it blatantly displays White supremacy (just Google for it, you'll find lots of blogs, especially from indigenous peoples, channeling their annoyance and even wrath).

Editors don't want stories that describe mundane activities in great detail, or stories about women totally depending on men to shape their destiny. We need to use stories written at most 20 years ago as a reference.

That said, some YA stories (LJ Smith, anyone?) are just a bad influence on budding YA writers. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga may be a bit whiny and slow (people say the movie "New Moon" was zzZzzZ. I say it's a lot faster than the book), but at least she got the supercharged chemistry between Bella and Edward right (the first 3 books, at least).

So yeah, read a lot, but don't copy a particular bestselling author's style and voice because

(a) You'll likely be a poor, distorted echo.

(b) Some published authors just suck (pun intended).

(c) at least 300 other people are doing the same thing, so you're competing with 299 people on top of the thousands who write with their own voices.