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Sevilla
07-14-2010, 07:43 AM
You pick up a book, which turns out to be so amazing you can't help but be dismayed at the end of it, because you know that the story you are writing will never be as good as the one you just read?

It's been a long, long time since I read a book I literally couldn't put down. Then I read this excerpt of another novel in the back of a book I had just finished. Wasn't even the type of thing I usually read, but I was hooked... Had to download it on my Kindle, read the whole thing in a day. Wow.

The sad thing is, during reading it I kept thinking, this is what I want my book to be. Not the plot or anything, but the emotions. It just felt so...real. I think it's a rare thing for even good, published authors. I've even read this same author at least half a dozen times, and while I liked her stories, nothing ever came close to this book.

How do you get over that? Do you pull out a sack of ambition and decide you're gonna make yourself that good, or do you just learn to accept it, and settle for something that's just 'publishable'?

MissMacchiato
07-14-2010, 07:45 AM
sigh - YES! put it down, step away from it and remind yourself that your work has other facets!

it's really really hard, and I've had this exact feeling so I know how deep it can run, but we'd never get anything written if we thought like that, so just STOP reading that author until you're a bit more secure in your work. :)

Kateness
07-14-2010, 07:47 AM
I read books that I think are awesome. I think that I'll never be able to write anything that good.

Then I take out the WIP I'm presently editing, and say "Okay, how do I make this as awesome as that thing I just finished?"

And then I get to work.

Susan Littlefield
07-14-2010, 07:51 AM
Yes, this sometimes happens to me too! I think we should strive to want out books to be as good as our the best book(s) we have ever read.

MacAllister
07-14-2010, 07:58 AM
So what was the BOOK, already?

SPMiller
07-14-2010, 09:41 AM
You said you read at least six other books by the same writer, none of which worked this well for you, so this sort of success clearly isn't reproducible even for the writer in question.

Of course, taste has a lot to do with this. There's no such thing as an objectively great book (and I know the pseudoliterati will take issue with that assertion, but whatever).

shaldna
07-14-2010, 03:34 PM
You pick up a book, which turns out to be so amazing you can't help but be dismayed at the end of it, because you know that the story you are writing will never be as good as the one you just read?



The first time I read the Return of the King I cried because I knew I was never going to write anything that good and my heart was completely broken because of it.

Bartholomew
07-14-2010, 04:11 PM
You said you read at least six other books by the same writer, none of which worked this well for you, so this sort of success clearly isn't reproducible even for the writer in question.

Of course, taste has a lot to do with this. There's no such thing as an objectively great book (and I know the pseudoliterati will take issue with that assertion, but whatever).

You can't argue that War & Peace isn't great, at least if you're using "great" as a measure of density, volume, mass, or word-count. o_o

Sevilla
07-14-2010, 04:18 PM
Heh... Now I feel kind of defensive to say it was Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas. And if you read the blurb and think that's what the book is.... Well, it's not. I'm not saying it was a great piece of literature, just that it was, for me, the closest you can come to bottling emotion for sale. It really, truly, felt so real.

And now all I want to do is tear it apart to see *how* she did what she did. And I know that if I could just give one reader the kind of experience I had reading this book, that would be my job done.

Phaeal
07-14-2010, 04:37 PM
I don't feel small when I stand beside the ocean. If I can appreciate what's great in nature and art, I also grow.

Maybe you have growing pains. CGs!

Alpha Echo
07-14-2010, 04:47 PM
Yes! I simultatneously love it when this happens and hate it. It happens less and less, the more I read and the more I write. I remember being younger, always loving books, and almost always wanting the book to just keep going forever. Now, there are probably more times than not that I skim or want the book to end. So when I read something amazing, it's almost painful when it ends...that same kind of exquisite torture...

Suzan
07-14-2010, 06:09 PM
I'm always so thankful when I read a book that makes me feel like you describe because I truly believe that great books grow great writers. Feeling a little writer envy is actually healthy and quite useful when it comes to growing our own abilities as writers.
I heard you say that you don't think you'll ever write that well. I say you will (You just have to work at it! I swear, ten years ago I didn't know where to put a period, lol.) Keep writing...and reading. Now, take a page from the best of the best and go read two more fantastic books and then go channel that new energy into your own writing!

SueLahna
07-14-2010, 10:36 PM
I agree with Phael
I've never had that issue with books. If I think I love it, and it sells well (these two don't always go hand in hand), I then analyze it the way I would in by Fiction Writing class. What makes it great? Why does it sell? What sets it apart? I try to answer these questions and how I could apply it to my own style of works.

Chris P
07-14-2010, 10:43 PM
Yep. Happens to me. It sometimes takes a day or two to get over it. But I always do and go back to writing with conviction; not to make my book better than or like the other book, but the make THIS book the best it can be.

LOG
07-15-2010, 12:05 AM
No.
I'm sure people have written stuff in ways I never have, but I don't hold to a set standard by which a book can be definitively judged superior to anyone other than myself.

That said, I have read books written in such a way that I wish I could write like they did.

Margarita Skies
07-15-2010, 01:26 AM
Answer to this question: No.

Swordswoman
07-15-2010, 01:35 AM
Yes.

And I think it's a good sign. In 'On Writing' Stephen King says
'you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.'
You know you have it in you to feel it. Now go back to your own work and make it happen for someone else.

happywritermom
07-15-2010, 04:59 AM
And now all I want to do is tear it apart to see *how* she did what she did. And I know that if I could just give one reader the kind of experience I had reading this book, that would be my job done.

I would do just that. I had a professor in grad school who made us do a 5-page technical paper every week as part of a fiction writing workshop. I was hugely annoyed (because he also required 8 short stories for the semester). For each paper, we had to choose an aspect of a short story: character, plot, setting. It was amazing. I learned so much. I also learned that I could write fiction on deadline. His name is Charles Wyatt and he teaches at workshops now and then. Definitely hop into one of his classes if you ever get the chance.

Kweei
07-15-2010, 05:35 AM
Yes, it's happened to me. What I usually do is just let myself experience the book, soak it all in, and when I'm done feeling that way, hold onto what floored me and see how I can improve my writing so I can invoke the same kind (and I don't mean copy) of reaction in my readers.

kaitie
07-15-2010, 02:53 PM
Not usually with endings. I generally really like my endings and they're one of the first things I plan and the thing I look most forward to writing. Other aspects do, though. Particularly gorgeous writing will do it (I'm kind of sparse), or fantastic characters, or a plot that just blows anything I could ever think of out of the water--particularly if it's one I couldn't figure out. I'm not easily stumped, so I'm always fascinated if someone can put together a story I don't see coming.

scarletpeaches
07-15-2010, 05:01 PM
I love it when this happens. It doesn't happen often enough.

I find it inspiring.

Libbie
07-15-2010, 10:36 PM
How do you get over that? Do you pull out a sack of ambition and decide you're gonna make yourself that good,

Yep.



or do you just learn to accept it, and settle for something that's just 'publishable'?

Hell no. I don't settle for "good enough." I want the whole world to know who I am. Some day. Even if it's after I'm dead.

Matera the Mad
07-16-2010, 10:30 AM
I got over it

Because.
07-16-2010, 08:09 PM
Yep. Only once and it made me realize that I wanted to share my stories with people. I strive to do that for someone else.

I don't settle. I think it's really an inspiring thing for writers.

Miss Plum
07-16-2010, 08:38 PM
I got over it
Same here. I was a big fan of John Updike when I was in my late teens and early twenties. From him I got into Ann Beattie. "I shall never write like this," I moped. And no, I never have -- and that is a good thing. Eventually I found my voice and style and subject matter, and now I write like myself. Updike, alas, has passed away, but maybe Ann Beattie will become a big fan of mine. :)

Wiskel
07-19-2010, 11:27 AM
[QUOTE=Sevilla;5139706]You pick up a book, which turns out to be so amazing you can't help but be dismayed at the end of it, because you know that the story you are writing will never be as good as the one you just read?

QUOTE]

What are the ingredients that make a book cross that line for you?

If any of them are about page turning stories, being introduced to new concepts or characters that live lives very different to yours then there's a problem.

I write about things I know, I read about things I don't know. It's hard for me to introduce myself to an idea that I'd never have thought of in a million years, or realise there's a different way of thinking about something that I take for granted.

For a very simple example, I'm a doctor. I don't go home at night and watch medical dramas. I want to watch something different to what I know. Spies may prefer to go home and watch Casualty.

What I'm saying is that the vital ingredient in a great book for me is the unknown. I won't be able to replicate that experience while I'm writing my own stories because I tend to write about what I know. Rather than have a story present itself as a complete experience in one day, my stories arrive in smaller pieces over the course of months and don't look quite the same at the end of the process as they did at the beginning.

My imagination won't surprise me as often as yours will. My ideas won't be as new to me as yours will. My characters will be more predictable to me than yours will. I get to enjoy your story more because I didn't have to slog through the process of putting it together.

The one thing we can't always appreciate about our own experiences is that the routine for us is new and novel for someone else. We should always strive to be the best we can, but we will always take for granted the things we can do, and marvel at the things we think we can't. It's human nature.

Craig