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Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I passed the forty mark on my query send-outs for HARDCASE, my first person POV thriller. Years back when I was reading Ms. Snark’s agent blog while trying to get a clue as to what would interest an agent, it seemed an impossible and humorous task as I read all the stuff authors should never do. There seemed to be an insurmountable number of items that doomed new authors in general to forever be submerged within the horrible agent ‘Slush Pile’. I read the words ‘craft’, ‘cliché’, and ‘concise’ so many times they began to trigger my barf reflex.

A little time passed and other agents began sharing their likes and dislikes with us, including POV, adverbs, dialogue tags, begin in the middle and end in beginning (or something like that), no this… no that… no… well, you get the drift. These revelations amused, confused, and defused a multitude of writer wannabes like me, I’m sure. I couldn’t have been the only one reading new releases breaking each and every ‘No-No’ and yet getting into print just the same - and selling.

A little more time passed and I noticed writers I myself had followed for many years making public statements not only about politics, but about other writers. The most mystifying was Stephen King deciding to grade the writing ability of Stephenie Meyer. He claimed to understand the attraction to the stories but he claimed - ‘Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.’ To a rube like me if an author manages somehow to climb the literary Mt. Everest of not only getting their material published, but also selling millions of copies along with generating a string of Hollywood movies, that author’s writing might not be pleasing to King or one of the other Gods of the written word, but so what? There are many writers out there who write ‘series’ type books I enjoyed immensely, but when they’ve forayed away from the series I disliked their efforts. It didn’t mean they couldn’t ‘write worth a darn’. It meant only that I didn’t care for the story. I’ve read all the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch, but her efforts outside the series have put me off from reading anything else but the series. It had nothing to do with her writing and everything to do with the story. Anyway, we had entered a new era of celebrity critique.

A little more time passes, and here we are in the middle of publishing Armageddon with Amazon creating a self-publishing tidal wave. Agents, writers, publishing houses, and book stores (however many there are left) feel the heat building up to an inferno. It is possible this may mean a brave new world for storytellers. It more than likely will mean a lot less money for a whole lot of people. It may also mean a closer look at submissions with storyline higher up on an agent’s agenda. With my new handy-dandy Kindle I’ve been trying out a lot of free samples from many well known authors. I admit to being confused as to what the agent saw other than name recognition, and I was very happy I hadn’t plunked down cash for it. It wasn’t that the well known writers had forgotten how to write. I just didn’t like the story. In conclusion to this blog thesis, writing form is all well and good, but in this day and age of large free samplings an author better have a story. :)


Charles Gramlich said...

Dare I say it, story's the "king." I will read something that is just beautifully written, but I read it slowly and never lose myself in it. A good story will do it for me every time though.

BernardL said...

Amen to that, Charles. If a story grabs me, my internal editor honed by decades of editing goes right to sleep, and before I know it, I'm all too soon at the end of the novel. :)

Jordan Summers said...

I've never been a picky reader. I just want something that will entertain me. I've only had craft issues get in the way of enjoyment a few times. In other words, not often if the story keeps my attention.

BernardL said...

Very true, Jordan. If a novel blends humor and good characters with a romantic touch into a good storyline I'm hooked. :)

raine said...

It has to have good bones, & for me that's the story.
There have been occasions when something about the writing did put me off the book, but I considered those extreme cases, something that was hard to do.
Hell, give me a comic book with an interesting tale, and even at my age I'm good to go.

BernardL said...

Having read many comics in my advanced years, I totally agree, Raine. :) Some are just art work, and some really hit all the high points.

Since I've started sampling the novels on Amazon, it's been surprising how quickly a promising start deteriorates into a bore. I think a lot of authors have not only taken that start in the middle to heart, but they've left out the end. :)

Your 'Hotter Than Hell' is very good, Raine. I started it last night on the Kindle. Neat beginning.

raine said...

Omigod, it still makes me nervous when I hear of somebody reading my stuff...
(running for cover...)

BernardL said...

LOL! Gee, Raine, we do write these things so people will read them. My own sister wrote me that she enjoyed my novel ARCHANGEL immensely in spite of my 'Republican Rantings'. Remember, while hiding behind the bookcase, any feedback is good feedback. :)