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Eddyz Aquila
06-19-2010, 04:50 AM
AKA novels that closely resemble their predecessor, only have a slightly different plot and different/same characters.

Why in the world are they so damn popular? Why do people want to read the same thing again only with different characters and a slightly different plotline/place of action? Not only this, but also the super-duper-fantastic-the-Church-is-so-evil novels, spin offs of the Da Vinci Code.

Why?! I understand the idea they are popular and people want to read that, but that's taking it to a whole new level.

I'm clueless. Rant against the world.

DeleyanLee
06-19-2010, 04:55 AM
I've been told since I was little, even before I was a writer, that the average person wants "the same but different." People, in general, want entertainment that isn't a risk--something they're in the mood for, but not the exact same thing that they've experienced before.

And, frankly, I'm one of them. When I'm in the mood, I don't want to risk my time, money or emotional investment on something I'm not sure I'll like. Same but different. The guarantee.

It's frustrating to me the writer, but it's totally true for me the consumer. *shrug*

mulcahy67
06-19-2010, 05:30 AM
well, it's pretty much the same reason, out of the twenty most watched shows on cable, like half of them are law and order/csi/ncis stuff.

as which deleyanlee explained well, they don't want a risk. why watch lost when they can watch something they are familiar with and know they'll probably like?

Aphotic Phoenix
06-19-2010, 06:18 AM
well, it's pretty much the same reason, out of the twenty most watched shows on cable, like half of them are law and order/csi/ncis stuff.

The advantage of Law and Order (and other crime shows to a certain degree), is that each episode is independent of one another. If you miss a few shows you don't feel completely lost as to what's going on, which does turn some people off. This is actually why I never watched Lost, or Heros, etc when they aired.

Now when it comes to books that are copies/rehashes/etc...the closer two works mirror each other, the less interesting I find them.

kaitiepaige17
06-19-2010, 06:24 AM
Well, what everyone said was true, but sometimes people just like vampire/werewolf stories (examples.) I'm one of them. It's not that I'm afraid to get emotionally invested in something different. I just simply like those stories.

Shadow_Ferret
06-19-2010, 06:54 AM
Because they're fun and entertaining. I love series where I can follow the continuing adventures of beloved characters.

sunandshadow
06-19-2010, 07:00 AM
What DeleyanLee said is the same thing I've heard (that was in reaction to someone saying, "Ugh, not another sequel video game!")

For me personally as a consumer it's not so much about fear, as it is about how rare it is to find a story that really speaks to me, and how glad I am when I find a series or author where all the stories resonate with me. I think everyone has certain types of story they adore and want to read again and again, but as adults we don't have the tolerance for repetition children do, so instead of just re-reading a book a lot we want to read a lot of similar books which are different enough to surprise us and get at different facets of the situation we are intrigued by.

Use Her Name
06-19-2010, 09:17 AM
Cowardly publishers who only care about the bottom line? A big business that does not care about innovation? The readers are addicted to a certain style? The fact that reading has been set on the bottom rung of "important" subjects in school for so long that certain generations think reading YA is the ultimate achievement of a reading population? Hack writers using thread bare formulas?

Bunches of reasons.


It's pretty much the death spiral of arts, and literature is in one now.

Ryan_Sullivan
06-19-2010, 09:20 AM
It's the same as watching re-runs, or spin-offs. If the original is good, you figure you'll like the new one.

omega_n17
06-19-2010, 09:46 AM
Cowardly publishers who only care about the bottom line? A big business that does not care about innovation? The readers are addicted to a certain style? The fact that reading has been set on the bottom rung of "important" subjects in school for so long that certain generations think reading YA is the ultimate achievement of a reading population? Hack writers using thread bare formulas?

Bunches of reasons.


It's pretty much the death spiral of arts, and literature is in one now.

Jeez. Apocalyptic much?

But seriously, this kind of thing really isn't anything new, or dooming. People felt the same way about the advent of the novel in the 1700's--it was a genre considered to be the area of lackwits and women, an idle pursuit with no art or intelligence required. Gothic romances a hundred years later (which are formulaic and often laden with the most purple of prose) received much the same reaction. Pulp SF of the 1940's-60s? Same deal. None of it has stopped good, original writers from being published or successful.

Chasing the Horizon
06-19-2010, 10:02 AM
I think this becomes a problem when something we don't really like becomes very popular. For example, I don't like medieval European fantasy settings, vampires, or werewolves. It's not just because they've all been overdone (though they have), it's because I didn't particularly care for any of those things in the first place so their saturation within the genre really, really annoys me.

I love united space-faring confederations and space battles, so no matter how many times I read this same Star-Trek-like setting in science fiction, I don't get tired of it (though I am thoroughly sick of some of the SF character clichés). I also never get tired of reading about dragons in fantasy, no matter how many times they're used.

So maybe a lot of it comes down to whether you like what's currently popular or not, lol.

Shadow_Ferret
06-19-2010, 10:07 AM
Bunches of reasons.


You left out: because they're a fun read.

gothicangel
06-19-2010, 11:10 AM
It depends what type of reader you're aiming for. Some readers just want a fast, easy read. I used to devour horror and crime in my early twenties. My favourite authors didn't produce fast enough.

Then there are the readers [which I have developed into]. I love my literary thrillers, writers like Ian Rankin and David Peace who write a blend of genre and literary. It takes longer to find those type of books, but trust me they are there.

I remember having a similar rant against chick-lit writers, when I was experienced my first 'rejection shock' moment. Turned out it was my writing that was shocking, and not the state of publishing that was resulting in rejections. :D

cutecontinent
06-19-2010, 11:22 AM
Cowardly publishers who only care about the bottom line? A big business that does not care about innovation? The readers are addicted to a certain style? The fact that reading has been set on the bottom rung of "important" subjects in school for so long that certain generations think reading YA is the ultimate achievement of a reading population? Hack writers using thread bare formulas?

/Salute

/Flamesuit

IDGS
06-19-2010, 11:42 AM
It's pretty much the death spiral of arts, and literature is in one now.

Sounds depressing, but I don't think it's really that bad.

Look at all the spinoff / clones that came out when Star Wars blew up box offices.

Look at all the serial killer clones that errupted when Silence of the Lambs hit.

Literature often mirrors what's going on in cinema. It often precludes it, but a lot of readers don't think that way.

Don't worry, as soon as this damn vampire thing dies a horribly painful death (I hope) a new shitty microgenre will explode for carbon-copying.

Massawyrm
06-19-2010, 11:54 AM
It is about the duplication of an experience. You want to relive an experience, but ou can't re-experience a work for a first time, so you turn to something that looks like something you've enjoyed before, hoping to enjoy it again. If you enjoyed and were scared by a zombie book, you're likely to buy another hoping to be just as scared.

Cowardly publishers who only care about the bottom line? A big business that does not care about innovation?

This is just both bitter and wrong. The industries want nothing more than innovation. Editors and producers stake their careers on it. But time and again, people return to the familiar, neglect the original and leave these experiments busted. People long for the familiar, so that's what sells and that's what successful businesses offer. If they don't care about their bottom line, they go out of business. End of story.

Katrina S. Forest
06-19-2010, 02:56 PM
The fact that reading has been set on the bottom rung of "important" subjects in school for so long that certain generations think reading YA is the ultimate achievement of a reading population?

Huh? We must live in very different areas then, because all the schools I know about are trying to cram so much math and English in, it's making kids' heads spin. These are the two major subjects that standardized testing looks at. Some schools have even cut recess and music to fit more English in. I'd say they think it's important.

The reason many teachers think YA is great is because it's getting kids to read in their spare time *in addition to* the required reading for school. And I have to admit, a book that makes a non-reader sit down and invest their time in it (no matter how silly it is), accomplishes something pretty cool in my mind. And you never know what books the former non-reader may move onto next. How many teens have started reading Jane Austen because of the Pride, Predjudice, and Zombies series? Or picked up Wuthering Heights beacause it's Bella Swan's favorive book? There are also plenty of exceptionally-written and thought-provocing YA novels out there that should not be discounted simply because they were aimed at a younger audience.

Eddyz Aquila
06-19-2010, 08:59 PM
The reason many teachers think YA is great is because it's getting kids to read in their spare time *in addition to* the required reading for school. And I have to admit, a book that makes a non-reader sit down and invest their time in it (no matter how silly it is), accomplishes something pretty cool in my mind. And you never know what books the former non-reader may move onto next. How many teens have started reading Jane Austen because of the Pride, Predjudice, and Zombies series? Or picked up Wuthering Heights beacause it's Bella Swan's favorive book? There are also plenty of exceptionally-written and thought-provocing YA novels out there that should not be discounted simply because they were aimed at a younger audience.

Fully agree with your point. (in bold)

However, why can't we promote some "smart" books such as Huckleberry Finn or any other of those classics which are real fun even now instead of promoting Twilight and the likes just because it makes young kids read? Pride and Prejudice is a bit too heavy for teens to digest, as an example, but that's only my biased opinion.

aadams73
06-19-2010, 09:42 PM
How dare we give readers what they want? It's appalling!

Jake Barnes
06-19-2010, 10:19 PM
Cowardly publishers who only care about the bottom line? A big business that does not care about innovation? The readers are addicted to a certain style? The fact that reading has been set on the bottom rung of "important" subjects in school for so long that certain generations think reading YA is the ultimate achievement of a reading population? Hack writers using thread bare formulas?

Bunches of reasons.


It's pretty much the death spiral of arts, and literature is in one now.

Like Cezanne and his paintings of Mont Saint-Victoire. Why couldn't he just get it right the first time? Also, Monet and his damned waterlilies and haystacks.

Eddyz Aquila
06-19-2010, 10:33 PM
How dare we give readers what they want? It's appalling!

Yes indeed! Totalitarianism is the way forward! :tongue:

djf881
06-20-2010, 07:29 AM
Media are big believers in franchises and brands. The power of name recognition and brand equity are significant economic values, and critical complaints of the artistic bankruptcy of such products aren't damaging enough to make original stories and content more economically valuable than sequels, spin-offs, adaptations and derivations.

Original works, no matter how good, have to build an audience. Franchise entries and derivatives, no matter how bankrupt or dubious, have an audience built-in. This has been going on since Arthur Conan Doyle, unable to otherwise disentangle himself from his popular creation, threw Sherlock Holmes off a cliff.

In short, the market for entertainment media is viewed by companies who pay the freight as being comprised of people who lack discerning taste and who make decisions based on name recognition rather than critical opinion. In the past, that view has been rewarded. This summer's dismal movie box office for a slate of films that's been franchise-heavy may indicate the tide is turning.

aadams73
06-20-2010, 08:01 AM
I fail to see what's wrong with people liking what they like, and I fail to see why it's a bad thing for publishers (and writers) to provide them with more of what they like.

Amarie
06-20-2010, 08:15 AM
There are many, many smart books being publshed now. If you are interested in YA, check out CarolRhoda's lab line. They've chosen some very creative books. Most publishers offer a mix of books each year that run the gamut from popular fiction to books that buiild a following more slowly but are more respected in the long run.

DeleyanLee
06-20-2010, 08:34 AM
Original works, no matter how good, have to build an audience.

Exactly. It's not that writers can't create new and original things. It's just that writers have to work harder and write it better in order to make people want to read it and establish that as the new thing to read.

It can be done. William Gibson comes to mind as a prime example.

[quoteThis has been going on since Arthur Conan Doyle, unable to otherwise disentangle himself from his popular creation, threw Sherlock Holmes off a cliff.[/QUOTE]

I think it's benn going on as long as stories were being told to the public.

And that didn't work so well for Sir Arthur, BTW. He succumbed to pressure and brought Holmes back several years later and kept writing him for years more. ;)

SJ Gordon
06-20-2010, 09:52 AM
So maybe a lot of it comes down to whether you like what's currently popular or not, lol.

I think there is a lot of sense in this. I happen to agree that there is way the heck too many vampire and werewolf books out there. I don't really care about vampires and werewolves. But then, a friend of mine who loves that sort of thing simply can't find these books fast enough.

I think there is a lot of sense in the idea that readers might not want to risk their sometimes precious reading time on things they may not like and so, head for familiar, well-loved story styles.

I further agree that there is nothing wrong with providing an entertaining story of the sort that the reading public wants.

All that being said, if you have a truly innovative manuscript, push it! Don't give up on it. It might have to gather some dust on the shelf for awhile before it gets published but don't completely give up on it. Because, I do believe that when the readers have seen their fill of a particular type of story, they will cast around for what might be new and different. That will be your opening, right?

Terie
06-20-2010, 11:45 AM
It's just human nature. Really. Srsly.

Let's apply the concept to other areas of life.

We'll start with food. Do you eat something different for supper every single night? If you're a chef or a particularly good cook, you might. But average folks? We eat the same relative handful of meals most of the time, only varying for special occasions. We tend mostly to go to the same restaurants that we've found we like. And often order from a small subset of the restaurant's offerings. Yes, there are exceptions, but I'm talknig about the average Joe here.

Clothes. Do you mostly wear the same kinds of clothes, or is each item you own vastly different from every other? Maybe you're a jeans-and-t-shirts sort of person. Or skirts-and-silk-blouses. Three-piece-suits for work. Or whatever. But most of us have wardrobes full of clothes that are essentially similar, with a few special items for special occasions.

Cars. When you buy a new car, do you get something utterly different from your last one, or one that's similar-but-newer?

Travelling to places you know. Do you take a different route every time, or do you follow the one that you know, that's most efficient?

Do you see where I'm going? It's human nature to tend toward similar things that have worked for you or that you know you like or that you're already comfortable with.

Storytelling has been around pretty much since humankind figured out how to communicate. And storytellers tell the same stories over and over, often varying them only slightly, if ever. Because people like the comfort of the same story.

Look at children. They'll listen to the same picturebook being read to them over and over and over, and goddess help a reader who tries to skip a page or insert something that's not there!

Like I say, it's just human nature, and has been for about a zillion years. It's just the way we're wired.

There's no point in ranting against it. Just write what you're possessed to write. Don't follow trends, cuz that's pretty useless. (Most of the vampire and werewolf books on the shelves right now were contracted at least two years ago. Most editors aren't still buying that volume of them, only the truly exceptional and fresh ones. Two years from now, we'll see what editors are buying right now.) Just write what grabs your soul and won't let go. Doesn't matter if that's Yet Another Romance or Detective Story, or if it's something that will kick off the next big trend. If it's what you want to write, write it.

And let readers choose what they want to read.

RedRose
06-20-2010, 02:35 PM
If you cant beat 'em, join 'em.

Greeble
06-20-2010, 02:36 PM
Srsly.

Don't you just hate it when the vowels on your keyboard don't work just when you need them most. Seriously.

Terie
06-20-2010, 03:15 PM
Srsly.
Don't you just hate it when the vowels on your keyboard don't work just when you need them most. Seriously.

Ur point? U haz one?

ChaosTitan
06-20-2010, 06:20 PM
I fail to see what's wrong with people liking what they like, and I fail to see why it's a bad thing for publishers (and writers) to provide them with more of what they like.

Ditto.


There's no point in ranting against it. Just write what you're possessed to write. Don't follow trends, cuz that's pretty useless. (Most of the vampire and werewolf books on the shelves right now were contracted at least two years ago. Most editors aren't still buying that volume of them, only the truly exceptional and fresh ones. Two years from now, we'll see what editors are buying right now.***) Just write what grabs your soul and won't let go. Doesn't matter if that's Yet Another Romance or Detective Story, or if it's something that will kick off the next big trend. If it's what you want to write, write it.

And let readers choose what they want to read.

Ditto again.

Publishing is and always has been a business. They're going to publish books that will sell, and it's these "stale retreads of the same old story" that give them the money to risk a few new, innovative titles.


***You can find out what publishers are buying today by subscribing to Publishers Marketplace. And if you can squeak out the extra $20/month, it's a worthwhile investment.

Albannach
06-20-2010, 09:33 PM
There are many, many smart books being publshed now. If you are interested in YA, check out CarolRhoda's lab line. They've chosen some very creative books. Most publishers offer a mix of books each year that run the gamut from popular fiction to books that buiild a following more slowly but are more respected in the long run.
Maybe more respected in the long run.. or maybe not.

Like that writer of popular fiction Dickens. Funny how he has eclipsed his contemporaries who wrote all that teddibly respected elite stuff.

Besides, as several people have pointed out, there obviously are people out there who are reading it and enjoying it. Much as I dislike Twilight, I don't really have the right to rip it out of their hands and force them to read Dracula (whilst explaining in great detail why vampires must NOT sparkle *gag*).

If selling Twilight or werewolves or whatever keeps the companies paying the advances, I'm all for it from a purely self-serving point of view.

Phaeal
06-20-2010, 10:35 PM
Popular works always touch a particular set of reader nerves, producing an agreeable sensation, whether it's swooning love-lust or pleasingly vicarious terror. Certain formulas (such as girl-meets-boy, complications-keep-them-apart, they-get-together-for-happy-ending) work consistently. However, brand new stuff can touch the same sets of nerves. This brand new stuff can then spawn sub-genres.

The primal nerve-sets are part of the species. Until humanity morphs into something else, the writer who can hit them hardest collects the big bucks.

In addition to the visceral nerve sets, there are intellectual ones that revel in puzzles, contemplation, exploration, world-building and word play. These play a part in literary-genre crossovers and literary work in general. Also, by the way, in science fiction and fantasy and other "mere" genre-genres.

In short, yeah. The same but different. It's a winner, and why not?

Phaeal
06-20-2010, 10:39 PM
Much as I dislike Twilight, I don't really have the right to rip it out of their hands and force them to read Dracula (whilst explaining in great detail why vampires must NOT sparkle *gag*).



And why must they not sparkle (in great detail, please)? Youth wants to know.

kaitiepaige17
06-20-2010, 10:43 PM
People just need to write what they like writing about. Eventually, the vamp and were books will stop selling because someone will come up with a wonderful new concept, and that will be all the rage. Already, agents seem to be backing away from the vamp books, because there are just SO MANY of them. Readers will see this too, eventually, as much as I hate saying it. (Love vampires) But I would really like to read some new stuff.

JeanneTGC
06-21-2010, 12:54 AM
Railing against the system rarely works. Either join and usurp from within, or write a book everyone wants to read. And then, to your shock and joy, you may find that the readers would like another book just like the one you just wrote that they loved, only, you know, different. ;)

BTW, just read a fascinating article in the SFFW Bulletin about packaging, which term, in the industry, is not about carrying on a series or a genre (which is what this thread is talking about), but is instead about the creation of things like anthologies and universes where more than one writer contributes and so forth. (I'm not doing the article justice. At all. LOL) Very good info on what it is and why to do it.

job
06-21-2010, 01:20 AM
However, why can't we promote some "smart" books such as Huckleberry Finn or any other of those classics which are real fun even now instead of promoting Twilight and the likes just because it makes young kids read? Pride and Prejudice is a bit too heavy for teens to digest, as an example, but that's only my biased opinion.

Last year, in our small-town high school, my daughter read Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Oedipus Rex, Cold Mountain, Malcolm X, Beowulf, The Crucible, Of Mice and Men, Catcher in the Rye, Exodus, Things Fall Apart, Romeo and Juliet, The Odyssey, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

It's a fairly average high school, I imagine, so I have to challenge the assumption that kids aren't being exposed to 'Good Literature'. The Classics are being promoted like mad, frankly.

The average person comes to fiction to feel thrill, warmth, terror, exhilaration, humor, the satisfaction of a mystery solved, the triumph of virtue rewarded . . . all the good emotional stuff.
The reader can be offered the same setting and story over and over because they get the emotional punch every time.

In Literary Fiction you got yer originality, yer intellectual challenge, yer social commentary, yer remarkable prose and innovative format. Trouble is, the average person is not primarily looking for any of that when he sits down to read.

I rather like the stubborness of the average person in demanding an emotionally satisfying story.
It reminds us what fiction is all about. Fiction is not, at its heart, a plaything for intellectuals. It's storytelling.

Bubastes
06-21-2010, 01:23 AM
Fiction is not, at its heart, a plaything for intellectuals. It's storytelling.

QFT.

Eddyz Aquila
06-21-2010, 03:53 AM
And why must they not sparkle (in great detail, please)? Youth wants to know.

Back in my days, vampires used to hide during the day and not glitter :)
That's why they are called vampires not fairies.

As for the thread, give the people what they want, but some variety, maybe?

ChaosTitan
06-21-2010, 04:36 AM
As for the thread, give the people what they want, but some variety, maybe?

The variety exists. It just may take a more thorough investigation of the bookstore to find what you're looking for.

shaldna
06-21-2010, 01:00 PM
i think alot of writers are very formulaic, and while initially that's a good thing in a way as readers know what to expect, eventually there comes a point where people go 'oh god not another one.'

Shadow_Ferret
06-21-2010, 05:23 PM
I don't understand why series can't exist alongside more serious endeavors. If I want to read a men's adventure for fun and then some literary for deeper meaning, I should have that right.

Sometimes I have a taste for popcorn and cotton candy, other days for steak.

ChaosTitan
06-21-2010, 05:36 PM
I don't understand why series can't exist alongside more serious endeavors. If I want to read a men's adventure for fun and then some literary for deeper meaning, I should have that right.

Sometimes I have a taste for popcorn and cotton candy, other days for steak.

Exactly. :)

kuwisdelu
06-21-2010, 08:53 PM
Fiction is not, at its heart, a plaything for intellectuals. It's storytelling.

Yes, but stories can be both emotionally satisfying, entertaining, and intellectually stimulation. Some of us are clueless and confused why people wouldn't want all three.

Shadow_Ferret
06-21-2010, 08:56 PM
Yes, but stories can be both emotionally satisfying, entertaining, and intellectually stimulation. Some of us are clueless and confused why people wouldn't want all three.

We do. If you give me a Doc Savage story that can tug at my heart strings while making me think, I'll be all over it.

DeleyanLee
06-21-2010, 09:18 PM
Yes, but stories can be both emotionally satisfying, entertaining, and intellectually stimulation. Some of us are clueless and confused why people wouldn't want all three.

Actually, what I think the problem might be is that we don't believe people are actually getting all three from what we think is crap.

DeleyanLee
06-21-2010, 09:24 PM
i think alot of writers are very formulaic, and while initially that's a good thing in a way as readers know what to expect, eventually there comes a point where people go 'oh god not another one.'

I don't think the average reader comes to that point, honestly. Otherwise my family's bookshelves would only contain a few books by such authors as Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, Louis L'Amour, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, among others.

Writers hit that point, but seeing as my parents and sisters have every book ever written by these authors (and Nora's got well over 100 just by herself) and many more but they don't write. They just read voraciously.

Shadow_Ferret
06-21-2010, 09:55 PM
Actually, what I think the problem might be is that we don't believe people are actually getting all three from what we think is crap.

This.

To me this whole discussion seems to revolve around those who seem to be the Arbitrators of Literary Taste. Because I choose genre fiction, because I choose fun reads, I'm somehow intellectually and emotionally stunted and I should repent by reading the latest critically acclaimed literary novel.

It assumes that there is no emotional or intellectual appeal to genre fiction and therefore assumes that we, as readers of it, are lacking in maturity (I've heard some people on this forum say, "I used to read [name of genre or author], but I've matured since then.")

This is starting to smack of am "us vs. them" thread, or worse, your typical "genre vs literature" thread.

Amarie
06-21-2010, 10:21 PM
This is starting to smack of am "us vs. them" thread, or worse, your typical "genre vs literature" thread.


Agreed. What I was trying to say in an earlier post to the OP is that there are new books published every year for all tastes. I don't want to see people here fall into the trap of bemoaning the decline of literature.

kuwisdelu
06-21-2010, 10:37 PM
Eh, there's plenty of great genre stuff that's intellectually stimulating in addition to being fun. Most of it isn't the popular stuff, though, which seems pretty bare to me. *shrug*

DeleyanLee
06-21-2010, 10:39 PM
Agreed. What I was trying to say in an earlier post to the OP is that there are new books published every year for all tastes. I don't want to see people here fall into the trap of bemoaning the decline of literature.

Um, I think it's important to remember that it's ALL literature. It might not all be literary or classic or the stuff of English classes, but it's all literature.

Lyra Jean
06-21-2010, 10:50 PM
well, it's pretty much the same reason, out of the twenty most watched shows on cable, like half of them are law and order/csi/ncis stuff.

as which deleyanlee explained well, they don't want a risk. why watch lost when they can watch something they are familiar with and know they'll probably like?

That's why I watch those shows. It's not that I'm not interested in shows like "Heroes" or "Lost", in fact, I very much wanted to watch them. But I knew with my work schedule that I would end up missing more than one episode so why set myself up for disappointment.

Amarie
06-21-2010, 11:46 PM
Um, I think it's important to remember that it's ALL literature. It might not all be literary or classic or the stuff of English classes, but it's all literature.

I didn't say it wasn't. I agree with you.

Eddyz Aquila
06-22-2010, 12:29 AM
Bottom line - variety exists, your purchase books according to your taste and all novels are literature :)

job
06-23-2010, 03:34 AM
Yes, but stories can be both emotionally satisfying, entertaining, and intellectually stimulation. Some of us are clueless and confused why people wouldn't want all three.

Hmmm ... when you are creating your characters, do all of your people read only books that are intellectually stimulating?

None of your angsty teens sits down with a yaoi manga? None of your old ladies pick up a formulaic cozy mystery? None of your young men read an SF/ fantasy where we just know the poor farmboy is going to turn out to be the lost heir?

Kweei
06-23-2010, 03:54 AM
Fiction is not, at its heart, a plaything for intellectuals. It's storytelling.

This

Actually, what I think the problem might be is that we don't believe people are actually getting all three from what we think is crap.

Exactly.



It assumes that there is no emotional or intellectual appeal to genre fiction and therefore assumes that we, as readers of it, are lacking in maturity (I've heard some people on this forum say, "I used to read [name of genre or author], but I've matured since then.").

I actually had a friend tell me this. Just after I finished chattering excitedly about genre fiction, she came off with this air of being more adult than me like she'd reached some enlightenment and I was still refusing to grow up.

And I *write* genre fiction.

That felt loads of good, let me tell you.

kuwisdelu
06-23-2010, 04:01 AM
Hmmm ... when you are creating your characters, do all of your people read only books that are intellectually stimulating?

I don't generally mention what my characters are reading.

None of your angsty teens sits down with a yaoi manga? None of your old ladies pick up a formulaic cozy mystery? None of your young men read an SF/ fantasy where we just know the poor farmboy is going to turn out to be the lost heir?

I don't see any reason a yaoi manga, a mystery, or a SF/fantasy can't be intellectually stimulating. Personally, I much prefer them when they are. I don't see any reason to invest my time in something that doesn't fully engage both my mind and my emotions.

job
06-23-2010, 05:05 AM
. . . stories can be both emotionally satisfying, entertaining, and intellectually stimulation. Some of us are clueless and confused why people wouldn't want all three.

I don't see any reason to invest my time in something that doesn't fully engage both my mind and my emotions.

What struck me was not that you like reading challenging literature yourself, but that you could not understand why anyone would read something that wasn't intellectually stimulating.

Most people -- I guess the vast majority of people -- watch TV or go to movies or read books that do not stimulate their intellect. When they want to unwind, they very deliberately turn their minds off and choose books and movies that do not demand a lot of thinking.

That was why I asked about your characters. To see if you'd written characters who kicked back and just enjoyed themselves with a total lack of intellectual challenge.

Because we're in the lit biz, we are tempted to look down on the many folks who seek out simple, oft-told tales for their entertainment. This is a harmless occupational hazard. Astonomers doubtless feel superior to folks who don't know the oort cloud from the kuiper belt and who do not pass their spare time playing with equations for intellectual stimulation.

But we're writers. Our raw material is humanity. If folks eat processed cheese spread or read action-adventure series novels, we should understand why they do it.

kuwisdelu
06-23-2010, 06:14 AM
Intellectually stimulating != intellectually challenging.

That's where the confusion lies.

sleepsheep
06-23-2010, 06:39 AM
... but also the super-duper-fantastic-the-Church-is-so-evil novels, spin offs of the Da Vinci Code.


What's even more annoying is the fact that every Dan Brown novel follows that same formula. I can sort of understand different authors imitating a popular trend, but an author repackaging his own novels and selling them with slight modifications and shiny new covers is an affront to my intelligence as a reader. It's supremely evil.

DeleyanLee
06-23-2010, 05:38 PM
What's even more annoying is the fact that every Dan Brown novel follows that same formula. I can sort of understand different authors imitating a popular trend, but an author repackaging his own novels and selling them with slight modifications and shiny new covers is an affront to my intelligence as a reader. It's supremely evil.

It's not evil. It's not an affront. It's what I, as one of his readers, WANT him to do. It's what I count on him to do. It's what I pay him to do when I buy his books. And if he stops doing it, I, and many many more like me, will stop giving him our money, stop talking up his books and start dissing him for deserting us and many of us (not me) will then take it as a personal affront to our adoration of what we liked.

sleepsheep
06-23-2010, 08:39 PM
It's not evil. It's not an affront. It's what I, as one of his readers, WANT him to do. It's what I count on him to do. It's what I pay him to do when I buy his books. And if he stops doing it, I, and many many more like me, will stop giving him our money, stop talking up his books and start dissing him for deserting us and many of us (not me) will then take it as a personal affront to our adoration of what we liked.

But why not expect more from your authors? If I loved something by an author, it doesn't mean that I want to read a slightly modified version of the same thing. I can just read the same book that I loved over again. Trying to sell me the same book under a different title is a bit of a slap in the face. It's like saying, "here, you stupid consumer, you won't even notice that it's just another iteration of my formula." I don't think Dan Brown would lose readers if he wrote better, more creative books. Assuming that just because readers liked one thing they won't like something else, something different - it's a simplistic view of human nature.

Every single book in the Foundation series (and the Robot series) was different. I didn't feel like Asimov abandoned me by not following the same formula that I loved in the previous book. I was grateful for the mental stimulation!

DeleyanLee
06-23-2010, 09:46 PM
But why not expect more from your authors? If I loved something by an author, it doesn't mean that I want to read a slightly modified version of the same thing. I can just read the same book that I loved over again. Trying to sell me the same book under a different title is a bit of a slap in the face. It's like saying, "here, you stupid consumer, you won't even notice that it's just another iteration of my formula." I don't think Dan Brown would lose readers if he wrote better, more creative books. Assuming that just because readers liked one thing they won't like something else, something different - it's a simplistic view of human nature.

Every single book in the Foundation series (and the Robot series) was different. I didn't feel like Asimov abandoned me by not following the same formula that I loved in the previous book. I was grateful for the mental stimulation!

That's your preferences. I couldn't stand either the Foundation or Robot series, and Asimov wrote the only SF book on my Keeper Shelf (The Gods Themselves, if you're curious) because they didn't feel like a series to me.

But, then, I don't read fiction for mental stimuation. That's what non-fiction is for. I read fiction for entertainment purposes, which I consider to be the mental equivalent of a vacation. No work, no stress, no worry about whether or not I'm going to have fun. I want the guarantee--and Brown (and many other "brand-name" authors) give that to me.

What I find interesting is that when I talk to writers, they often say the same thing you do. When I talk to people who read and don't write, they say much the same thing as I do. I think that people are just wired for entertainment differently and neither will ever understand how the other can enjoy something they themselves think is trash.

sleepsheep
06-23-2010, 10:43 PM
But, then, I don't read fiction for mental stimuation. That's what non-fiction is for. I read fiction for entertainment purposes, which I consider to be the mental equivalent of a vacation. No work, no stress, no worry about whether or not I'm going to have fun. I want the guarantee--and Brown (and many other "brand-name" authors) give that to me.

I guess my challenge in understanding your point of view rises from the fact that you claim to be entertained by repetition, whereas I'm bored by it. Do you feel the same way about other forms of entertainment? Do you look forward to a remake of a beloved movie because you can relax and not worry about what's going to happen (since you know what's going to happen)? Personally, I hate remakes of movies, even movies I love; and I hate repackaging of books, even books I love.



What I find interesting is that when I talk to writers, they often say the same thing you do. When I talk to people who read and don't write, they say much the same thing as I do.


In all fairness, I'm much better at reading fiction than I am at writing it.

I think that people are just wired for entertainment differently and neither will ever understand how the other can enjoy something they themselves think is trash.

Very true. But for me, it's less a matter of trash fiction versus literary fiction, and more about good, creative fiction versus lazy, formulaic fiction. I read plenty of what's typically considered "trash fiction" (or genre fiction, or whatever the industry term is for books that don't get shortlisted for the Booker Prize), but I still have my standards and (perhaps, a smug) sense of entitlement to be entertained/enlightened with something original.

DeleyanLee
06-23-2010, 10:46 PM
I guess my challenge in understanding your point of view rises from the fact that you claim to be entertained by repetition, whereas I'm bored by it. Do you feel the same way about other forms of entertainment? Do you look forward to a remake of a beloved movie because you can relax and not worry about what's going to happen (since you know what's going to happen)? Personally, I hate remakes of movies, even movies I love; and I hate repackaging of books, even books I love.

Usually, unless they do a bad job of the remake (ie: change the story too much when they "update" it, or cast people who really can't act, etc).

It's different interpretations of the same story, which is what makes it inherently interesting. Just 'cause I can't image a way to reinterpret a beloved story makes it all the more fascinating to see how someone would.

sunandshadow
06-23-2010, 11:00 PM
I guess my challenge in understanding your point of view rises from the fact that you claim to be entertained by repetition, whereas I'm bored by it. Do you feel the same way about other forms of entertainment? Do you look forward to a remake of a beloved movie because you can relax and not worry about what's going to happen (since you know what's going to happen)? Personally, I hate remakes of movies, even movies I love; and I hate repackaging of books, even books I love.
I know people who've watched the same movie 50 times and enjoyed it every time. I personally can't do that - there are only a handful of novels I've read more than a few times. But there are some subgenres, which often equates to story formulas, that I'd read by the dozen if I could get them. For example, I particularly like the formula of a science fiction setting where a whole community is short on females or unrelated potential mates of both genders, so they come up with a plan to obtain a batch of mail-order brides. Since it's a romance, of course the story has to be about a couple falling in love and ending happily ever after. I would have a great time reading a series of these where each book followed a different pair of characters in basically the same situation. Or I'd be just as happy with one fat volume that followed the interwoven stories of 3 or more pairs of characters.

A different example is fanfiction. There are a LOT of people who choose a favorite character or pair of characters in an anime or movie or novel, and just want to read more and more about them. Death Note, fore example, since we mentioned yaoi earlier in the thread. You would not believe the sheer number of LightxL romance or erotic fanfictions there are, and also the number of readers who have eagerly read thousands of this particular type of story.

Shadow_Ferret
06-23-2010, 11:18 PM
Intellectually stimulating != intellectually challenging.

That's where the confusion lies.
And I'm still confused. O_o
I guess my challenge in understanding your point of view rises from the fact that you claim to be entertained by repetition, whereas I'm bored by it. Do you feel the same way about other forms of entertainment? Do you look forward to a remake of a beloved movie because you can relax and not worry about what's going to happen (since you know what's going to happen)? Personally, I hate remakes of movies, even movies I love; and I hate repackaging of books, even books I love.

Repetition doesn't mean I want to see a remake of the same movie over and over. It means I like series. I love all the old Charlie Chan movies, the Sherlock Holmes movies, the Crime Doctor movies, the Boston Blackie movies, and so on. Repetition means I enjoy watching the adventures of the same character over and over again. The stories aren't the same, there is some variation, and I guess some sort of formula, but it isn't a "remake" of the same movie over and over again.

That's what I like about television. You get to watch the adventures of the same characters week after week. It isn't the same story, just the same people you've come to love.

And I like books like that. Doc Savage. Tarzan. John Carter of Mars. The Shadow. The Spider. Harry Dresden. Anita Blake. Jack Reacher. Sherlock Holmes. The same characters. Different adventures.

sleepsheep
06-23-2010, 11:28 PM
I think I have to recant my own analogy. With remakes of movies, the seller of the product is honest about what they are giving you, namely, a remake. Same goes for series like Dresden Files and Anita Blake. You buy the next book in the series because you want more Dresden Files. You download Doctor Who fan fiction because you want more Doctor Who. I suppose my issue is with authors who recycle plots, characters, and formulas surreptitiously. Doesn't anyone think that's unfair?

aadams73
06-23-2010, 11:28 PM
Jesus H. Christ. Just entertain me. I don't care what label you slap on it or how clever and intellectual it's supposed to be.

DeleyanLee
06-23-2010, 11:36 PM
I suppose my issue is with authors who recycle plots, characters, and formulas surreptitiously. Doesn't anyone think that's unfair?

Who says it's surreptitiously? Generally everyone involved knows from the author to agent to editor to reader. It's what they all WANT. No one's trying to hide anything.

No, I don't think it's unfair. I think it's smart marketing to a buying public.

gothicangel
06-23-2010, 11:38 PM
Oh, dear we've slipped into the literary vs genre debate once more.

Mods locking thread: 1, 2, 3 . . .

I'm with Kewisdelu. I like my literary crime. Normal genre crime feels lacking for me. Characterisation is the main reason. 'Intellectual' can be very entertaining. Check out David Peace, Ian Rankin or Henning Mankell if you don't believe me.

paralus
06-24-2010, 12:11 AM
Jesus H. Christ. Just entertain me. I don't care what label you slap on it or how clever and intellectual it's supposed to be.

This. :D

I suppose my issue is with authors who recycle plots, characters, and formulas surreptitiously. Doesn't anyone think that's unfair?

Not sure what you mean by surreptitiously, but no, I don't have a problem with recycling plots and characters. Every idea's already been had. We can demand originality till the cows come home, but the fact is, if we required everything to be original, we'd never see any new books. Everything's already been done. What originality there is comes in execution.

Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Virgil, and Shakespeare all wrote stories about the Trojan War. Same basic plot, same basic characters, vastly different stories. I love them all.

So no, I don't care how many serial killer stories there are out there, or how many fantasies about farm boy heroes. Give me your noble heroes, your smartass sidekicks, your brooding bad boys, your badass heroines, your sweet damsels, your hardboiled detectives, and your oh-so-evil, power-hungry villains. Save the world, fall in love, solve the crime, all of the above, none of the above, I really don't care, as long as your story is about interesting people doing interesting things.

Bubastes
06-24-2010, 12:18 AM
What paralus said.

Eddyz Aquila
06-24-2010, 02:21 AM
Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Virgil, and Shakespeare all wrote stories about the Trojan War. Same basic plot, same basic characters, vastly different stories. I love them all.

I wonder why you love them... (no I'm not sarcastic)

The subject is the same, same basic plot, totally different execution. Now I wouldn't be complaining if there was the same basic plot, but a very similar execution.

In the case of the authors you mentioned above, you can't compare. All of them are brilliant. The execution makes you want to read them again and again.

paralus
06-24-2010, 02:38 AM
I wonder why you love them... (no I'm not sarcastic)

The subject is the same, same basic plot, totally different execution. Now I wouldn't be complaining if there was the same basic plot, but a very similar execution.

In the case of the authors you mentioned above, you can't compare. All of them are brilliant. The execution makes you want to read them again and again.

Uh. Not quite sure what point you're making here, but I think you missed mine. Which is this: there's nothing wrong with recycling plots and characters. Good stories are found in the execution, and they shouldn't be dismissed because they bear a superficial resemblance to other stories.

Eddyz Aquila
06-24-2010, 03:10 AM
Uh. Not quite sure what point you're making here, but I think you missed mine. Which is this: there's nothing wrong with recycling plots and characters. Good stories are found in the execution, and they shouldn't be dismissed because they bear a superficial resemblance to other stories.

Exactly. My point is this - recycling plots and characters I agree with only if the execution is good. Half of the time, the contemporary literature doesn't quite deliver. Obviously my opinion is biased, so many of you might disagree with this, but I still fail to comprehend why they are so popular.

Oh well, this thread gave me some valuable opinions. :)

Shadow_Ferret
06-24-2010, 04:22 AM
...but I still fail to comprehend why they are so popular.


What's to comprehend? Tastes are different. I wonder if it would be possible to plot these things on a bell curve? Utter Crap to the left, literary genius to the right, and the bulk of literature, the mainstream best sellers falling into the middle, a large bell. Seems logical.

And Kuwi keeps saying he wants to be intellectually stimulated. I do, too. But my tastes are different. What he finds stimulating I'd probably find tedious and boring and vice versa.

Someone mentioned that they thought ordinary genre crime fiction lacked characterization. Not sure what they mean by that, but I've never felt the stories I've read were lacking in anything. They all satisfied me. Some I couldn't put down because they totally satisfied.

Differing tastes. Differing opinions.

kuwisdelu
06-24-2010, 05:23 AM
And Kuwi keeps saying he wants to be intellectually stimulated. I do, too. But my tastes are different. What he finds stimulating I'd probably find tedious and boring and vice versa.

Ferrets do have pretty short attention spans... :tongue

SJ Gordon
06-24-2010, 06:09 AM
I feel like trying to get everyone to join hands around the campfire. :P


Look, the long and the short of it, for me, is that for every ten readers, you will find at least two dozen different tastes. There should be a book for each and every one of those tastes. Whether you want to read Virgil or Dan Brown, you should be able to find something that interests you. As writers, we are given the opportunity to put our stories out there. Some of us have decidedly different, experimental stories that are crafted to challenge the readers' perception. Some of us have familiar themes but have created characters and circumstances that carry our own slant (which is, by default, different and original from anyone else's slant). The story's goal is to entertain more than to challenge. Whichever sort of story we tell, if we craft it well, it will appeal to a reader somewhere.

So, I think it is safe to say there is a place for all these stories whether they be formulaic series/cozy mystery/romance/whatever or experimental prose. Honestly, I don't see how any of us should be able to look down upon another writer because we believe our story to be 'right' and 'more worthwhile' than another's. That's just crazy hubris, in my humble opinion.




For the record, I do write genre fiction. I do occasionally seek out something non-genre to read. I do occasionally enjoy something entirely formulaic. *shrugs* I contain multitudes.

paralus
06-24-2010, 08:53 AM
Oh well, this thread gave me some valuable opinions. :)

Nothing like a good discussion with smart people. :)

gothicangel
06-24-2010, 10:49 AM
Someone mentioned that they thought ordinary genre crime fiction lacked characterization. Not sure what they mean by that, but I've never felt the stories I've read were lacking in anything. They all satisfied me. Some I couldn't put down because they totally satisfied.

Differing tastes. Differing opinions.

Like you say, it depends on tastes.

Traditionally crime fiction is more plot focused so there isn't time to get into deep characterisation. Hence there is a dearth of Rebus-clones (heavy drinking, psychologically damaged) to apoint that they have become a cliche.

Because I also enjoy literary fiction, I like my plot to be character driven. I can't stand the 'a psychopath is on the loose' crap, I much prefer proper psychological motivations. Hence I love my psychological crime. Val McDermid is the Queen of developing such characters as Tony Hill, the guy is so fucked up, but his detective skills are brilliant.

MkMoore
06-24-2010, 11:20 AM
I get annoyed if all the characters are shallow. Shallow as in flat. Shallow as people I can work with.

Shadow_Ferret
06-24-2010, 09:35 PM
Like you say, it depends on tastes.

Traditionally crime fiction is more plot focused so there isn't time to get into deep characterisation. Hence there is a dearth of Rebus-clones (heavy drinking, psychologically damaged) to apoint that they have become a cliche.

Because I also enjoy literary fiction, I like my plot to be character driven. I can't stand the 'a psychopath is on the loose' crap, I much prefer proper psychological motivations. Hence I love my psychological crime. Val McDermid is the Queen of developing such characters as Tony Hill, the guy is so fucked up, but his detective skills are brilliant.

I love character-driven stories. That's why I don't read literary. :D

kuwisdelu
06-24-2010, 10:38 PM
That's why I don't read literary. :D

Err. I think you've been reading the bad ones.

KTC
06-24-2010, 10:41 PM
Ferrets do have pretty short attention spans... :tongue

but long tails.

Shadow_Ferret
06-24-2010, 10:42 PM
Err. I think you've been reading the bad ones.

Ah. I see. You mean there are good ones?



:D

DeleyanLee
06-24-2010, 10:50 PM
Err. I think you've been reading the bad ones.

That could said about any genre of fiction that someone doesn't like. ;)

kuwisdelu
06-24-2010, 10:57 PM
Ah. I see. You mean there are good ones?

That could said about any genre of fiction that someone doesn't like. ;)

Exactly.

It's the same for all genres, including literary.


I don't know why this is turning into a literary vs genre discussion... I don't know about anyone else, but I clearly mentioned I like good genre fiction too, earlier... Our ideas of "good" may differ, but that's beside the point I think.

Shadow_Ferret
06-24-2010, 11:36 PM
I don't know why this is turning into a literary vs genre discussion... I don't know about anyone else, but I clearly mentioned I like good genre fiction too, earlier... Our ideas of "good" may differ, but that's beside the point I think.

It was inevitable. But I think it came about because along the way prepackaged came to mean ALL GENRE FICTION to someone.