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Thread: Something I can't understand

  1. #1

    Something I can't understand

    Sorry if I sound arrogant but today I came across some James Patterson's books. They are just plain crap. I don't understand what is the hype about him and why he is qualified as a best seller author. Maybe it's because he writes a lot? I picked 5 random titles on Amazon and read the reviews, one and two stars ratings are overwhelming. For some, I can't read without a massive brain hemorrhage. Stephen King writes a lot too, but look at how good his books are. On the other hand, JR Rowling only wrote one book and it became a massive success.

    So that is why I can't seem to understand it. Or maybe I overlook his good books and only see the crappy one?

  2. #2
    Needs More Hands.... Fallen's Avatar
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    Did you pick the books and just read the reviews, or did you read the books?

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  3. #3
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Their books sell because many folk enjoy reading what these authors have written.

    Simples.
    Everything yields to treatment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukinara View Post
    Sorry if I sound arrogant but today I came across some James Patterson's books. They are just plain crap.
    What's your definition of crap?

  5. #5
    Like Dirty Gentlemen Faide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukinara View Post
    On the other hand, JR Rowling only wrote one book and it became a massive success.
    JKR wrote seven books in addition to a few companion books.
    "The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are ruined in the usual way." - The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli


  6. #6
    Shooting stars. lolchemist's Avatar
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    Did you try reading the 4 and 5 star reviews to see what people liked about those books?

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Yukinara View Post
    I don't understand what is the hype about him and why he is qualified as a best seller author?
    ?

  8. #8
    The Anti-Magdalene KellyAssauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukinara View Post
    Stephen King writes a lot too, but look at how good his books are.
    I'd really rather not...
    actually, I'm going to insist on it.

    Thanks, but no thanks.


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  9. #9
    Mostly harmless SuperModerator dpaterso's Avatar
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    What is the point of this? You don't like a bestselling author's books, so they are crap? How does that logic work? How can it possibly spark a meaningful debate? Answer, it can't. Take it outside!

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  10. #10
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    Being able to separate your tastes and objectively evaluate the merits, or lack thereof, of a novel, is one important step one should take on their way to becoming a good writer.

    I'm not saying Patterson novels are good or bad; I don't care for them, but he's clearly telling stories that people want to read. I personally don't care for romance novels or enjoy them, but that doesn't mean romance is crap. It just means I don't care for that genre.

  11. #11
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    Even though I know I should, I rarely read best sellers unless they've been given a good review from a reputable source, because I find so many of them so horrifically below par that my faith in readers plummets.

    90% of the stuff I read nowadays are classics for this reason. I still remember finishing the Da Vinci code and saying out loud "what a load of bollocks," so, chances are I'd agree with you on this guy

    P.s. I also gave up on Harry Potter after 5pages

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  12. #12
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukinara View Post
    Sorry if I sound arrogant but today I came across some James Patterson's books. They are just plain crap. I don't understand what is the hype about him and why he is qualified as a best seller author. Maybe it's because he writes a lot? I picked 5 random titles on Amazon and read the reviews, one and two stars ratings are overwhelming. For some, I can't read without a massive brain hemorrhage. Stephen King writes a lot too, but look at how good his books are. On the other hand, JR Rowling only wrote one book and it became a massive success.

    So that is why I can't seem to understand it. Or maybe I overlook his good books and only see the crappy one?
    No they're not.

    They're bestsellers and many people like his stories, including me.

    How many successful books have you written?

    So...what is your point?

  13. #13
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    If you're going to criticise others, it behooves you to get your facts straight. Otherwise, you make yourself look foolish.

    To wit: the Harry Potter books didn't explode until book 3. JK Rowling didn't write only 'one book and it became a massive success'.
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  14. #14
    Token mad scientist. RemusShepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukinara View Post
    Sorry if I sound arrogant but today I came across some James Patterson's books. They are just plain crap. I don't understand what is the hype about him and why he is qualified as a best seller author. Maybe it's because he writes a lot?
    I have to back you up on this. I wanted to read a Patterson book to figure out what made them so popular, so I picked up one of his bestsellers. I couldn't get more than ten pages into it. The prose is awful, the dialogue is terrible, and dramatic tension is pumped to high levels through cheap tricks like short one-scene action chapters and pendantic narration with lots of exclamation marks (Like this!!!) It reads like advertising copy for an action figure.

    I attribute his success to three things:

    1. A lot of people like simple books. They don't have to think when reading Patterson. They're used to advertising copy. This is comfort prose to them.

    2. Cheap tricks sometimes work. Load enough cheap tricks into a book and some of them will hit. The ones that don't hit will be forgotten by the reader.

    3. Volume is important to a writer. Patterson isn't really writing his books; he has a stable of underlings writing books to which he signs his name. That enables him to spit out an enormous number of books. Some will fail. Every once in a while one will succeed. And if the reader looks for another book by the same author, Patterson has a catalog that is practically never-ending.

    In the end, I decided to let James Patterson be James Patterson, and I'll be me, and the two styles shall probably never meet. I'd feel dirty and soulless if I were to emulate him so I'm not going to try. The flip side to that is that I don't expect his kind of success. If writing for the mainstream means writing for morons then I don't want any part of it.
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  15. #15
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RemusShepherd View Post
    I have to back you up on this. I wanted to read a Patterson book to figure out what made them so popular, so I picked up one of his bestsellers. I couldn't get more than ten pages into it. The prose is awful, the dialogue is terrible, and dramatic tension is pumped to high levels through cheap tricks like short one-scene action chapters and pendantic narration with lots of exclamation marks (Like this!!!) It reads like advertising copy for an action figure.

    I attribute his success to three things:

    1. A lot of people like simple books. They don't have to think when reading Patterson. They're used to advertising copy. This is comfort prose to them.

    2. Cheap tricks sometimes work. Load enough cheap tricks into a book and some of them will hit. The ones that don't hit will be forgotten by the reader.

    3. Volume is important to a writer. Patterson isn't really writing his books; he has a stable of underlings writing books to which he signs his name. That enables him to spit out an enormous number of books. Some will fail. Every once in a while one will succeed. And if the reader looks for another book by the same author, Patterson has a catalog that is practically never-ending.

    In the end, I decided to let James Patterson be James Patterson, and I'll be me, and the two styles shall probably never meet. I'd feel dirty and soulless if I were to emulate him so I'm not going to try. The flip side to that is that I don't expect his kind of success. If writing for the mainstream means writing for morons then I don't want any part of it.
    I cannot understand this attitude. It's so condescending.

    Readers are not the enemy. They're not stupid. Donald Maass talks about Patterson a bit in his book. While no one would claim that Patterson's prose is flawless or that he's writing deep litfic, he tells a story people want to read and develops characters people want to spend 300 pages with, and that alone is something to be admired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RemusShepherd View Post
    If writing for the mainstream means writing for morons then I don't want any part of it.
    Grow up.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoneyBadger View Post
    I cannot understand this attitude. It's so condescending.

    Readers are not the enemy. They're not stupid. Donald Maass talks about Patterson a bit in his book. While no one would claim that Patterson's prose is flawless or that he's writing deep litfic, he tells a story people want to read and develops characters people want to spend 300 pages with, and that alone is something to be admired.
    You might need to read more Patterson.

    I read his book The Quickie, recommended by several non-writer friends. While I wouldn't use the word "moron" to describe his fans (they're people I like and respect, I just won't listen to their book recommendations anymore), I will say this: McDonald's outsells the independently owned sushi boutique in our town by an enormous margin .... but I wouldn't call the kid flipping those frozen grey patties so popular with the masses a "chef."

    If that makes me a condescending twit too, well, okay, I probably am. I can live with that.

    I get the frustration with widely popular novels that wouldn't even make the cut in SYW. I used to feel that way myself sometimes, but eventually I got over it. It's just the nature of the business, same as sushi joints and McD's. Something for everyone and all that.

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  18. #18
    Queen of the Upmarket Bagladies HoneyBadger's Avatar
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    No, I think there's a huge difference between recognizing weak prose/storytelling/characterization, etc, and the attitude Remus has expressed.

    There's room in the market for all sorts of books, low, mid, or high-brow. I really do believe that. But if we keep in mind that the average person is exactly that: average, and that it's okay for people to enjoy the things they enjoy without vilifying them (not something I see you do, Devil) for their tastes, life just goes by that much more smoothly for everyone.

    I mean, I fucking LOVE Bridalplasty, a reality show where idiots compete to win plastic surgeries in preparation for their weddings. It's just so awful, but gives me a tremendous amount of joy. Would I rather more shows exist like AMC's The Killing, FX's Archer, or the BBC's Sherlock? Hells yeah. But do I want to abolish shitty, exploitative trash-tv? NEWP. There's room in my heart for all the things, good and 'bad.'

  19. #19
    Token mad scientist. RemusShepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobJ View Post
    Grow up.
    If I grow up how will I ever write science fiction?

    Look, it's very simple. Patterson writes terrible prose. It's just objectively awful. I'm happy for him that so many people want to read it, but I don't want to write it. I'm not saying he's wrong to write like that -- one cannot argue with such success -- I'm just saying that I don't want to emulate him.

    There's nothing immature about saying, "This appeals to the masses, but I choose not to be part of it." In fact it seems to be a rather grown-up statement.
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  20. #20
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HoneyBadger View Post
    No, I think there's a huge difference between recognizing weak prose/storytelling/characterization, etc, and the attitude Remus has expressed.

    There's room in the market for all sorts of books, low, mid, or high-brow. I really do believe that. But if we keep in mind that the average person is exactly that: average, and that it's okay for people to enjoy the things they enjoy without vilifying them (not something I see you do, Devil) for their tastes, life just goes by that much more smoothly for everyone.

    I mean, I fucking LOVE Bridalplasty, a reality show where idiots compete to win plastic surgeries in preparation for their weddings. It's just so awful, but gives me a tremendous amount of joy. Would I rather more shows exist like AMC's The Killing, FX's Archer, or the BBC's Sherlock? Hells yeah. But do I want to abolish shitty, exploitative trash-tv? NEWP. There's room in my heart for all the things, good and 'bad.'
    I agree with you there, HoneyBadger. Weird, because I agreed with most of what Remus said, other than "morons."

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  21. #21
    Token mad scientist. RemusShepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devil Ledbetter View Post
    I agree with you there, HoneyBadger. Weird, because I agreed with most of what Remus said, other than "morons."
    I shouldn't have used the term 'morons'. Sorry. I can't respect the literary preference of anyone who likes James Patterson's books, but I shouldn't be calling them names either.

    In a similar vein, I don't expect anyone to value my opinion about TV shows, because I watch My Little Pony. There's nothing wrong with liking trash(*), but if you do then don't hold yourself up as an authority.

    (* -- Note, I am *not* saying that My Little Pony is trash. )
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  22. #22
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RemusShepherd View Post
    I shouldn't have used the term 'morons'. Sorry. I can't respect the literary preference of anyone who likes James Patterson's books, but I shouldn't be calling them names either.

    In a similar vein, I don't expect anyone to value my opinion about TV shows, because I watch My Little Pony. There's nothing wrong with liking trash(*), but if you do then don't hold yourself up as an authority.

    (* -- Note, I am *not* saying that My Little Pony is trash. )
    Dude, you're a Bronie?

    Trash is in the eye of the beholder. I've been known to watch Tabitha's Salon Takeover.

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  23. #23
    The reason James Patterson is so successful is because up until 10 years ago he was a pretty decent writer. He was simple to read, pacey, uncomplicated. Yes, the plots were a bit(!) ridiculous at times (anybody read Cradle and All?), but...you picked up a James Patterson knowing you'd be able to read it on the train however noisy the carriage was.

    Having built up a reputation by being good, he has a lot of people who will buy his book because they know what they are going to get. Same as Micky D's. Same as the Mills and Boon subscription service (I dunno if they still do it, in my youth you'd join the club, specify the lines you liked and they'd send you X number every month).

    You can't look at James Patterson in order to see how to write commercially successful novels today. He has an established fan base of hundreds of millions. It doesn't matter what he writes. Same goes for Stephen King. Same goes for Sophie Kinsella.

    Look at the commercially successful novels which are debuts or breakthroughs. Things like One Day (stick with it. It does start getting better about a third of the way. Before that it's a bit of a martyr to its concept).

    Oh, and:

    There's nothing wrong with liking trash(*), but if you do then don't hold yourself up as an authority.
    Have you heard of Max Clifford? PR guy. The reason the Daily Fail hates the GTA games is because Max Clifford gave them the "you can kill prostitutes" story as part of the PR campaign.

    The bottom line is that cash goes in the till. If it's trash, if it's stupid, whatever - cash goes in the till and you get it there by whatever means necessary. There's no such thing as "authority". Cash goes in the till.

  24. #24
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    Whether you like Patterson or not, it might interest you to know that his books are assembled factory-style, where he outlines the plot, turns it over to collaborators who do most of the writing, then edits their work to create the final product:

    Inside the fiction factory | From the Guardian | The Guardian

    I am among those who consider his books trash, but that's what makes the world go round, right?


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  25. #25
    I still reserve judgement on James Patterson's writing for that reason.

    I picked up Witch and Wizard, since it was one of his YA books, and I really didn't like it, but then I noticed that the co-author changed with future books in that series. So was the co-author's writing I didn't enjoy or James Patterson's? I don't really have any way of knowing without reading the early books he worked solo on.
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