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CoriSCapnSkip
09-05-2007, 12:36 PM
Has anyone ever sat down and done the math on the odds of writing success vs. the odds of winning the lottery, population-wise?

Of course, the number of attempts to win the lottery in relation to the population can be documented by ticket sales, whereas the number of people wanting to hit it big with one book or make a living writing a series of books are not calculatable. Still, there should be some method of hazarding a guess and comparing the numbers.

JimmyB27
09-05-2007, 02:37 PM
The two aren't comparable - you can't be better than anyone else at 'playing' the lottery. Every single number combination has an equal chance of winning, something that just isn't true of books.

Stijn Hommes
09-05-2007, 03:16 PM
The machine or person that draws lottery balls does so at random, and though it may seem like it for books, personal preference and writing ability figure into that decision.

Priene
09-05-2007, 03:44 PM
I agree that you can't compare, but just for fun...

Wikipedia quotes 206,000 new books published in the UK in 2006. Take off, say, 50000, for foreign authors and domestic ones publishing more than one, that makes 156000 UK books from 60 million population, or roughly 0.25% per person per year. Take our minors and people who haven't actually produced a title, and you're looking at a figure way, way, better than lottery jackpot odds, which I believe in the UK lottery are one in 14 million per ticket. Those odds mean that if you had bought one ticket per year, you would have scooped the lottery four or five times since the extinction of the dinosaurs.

If you're in Niger, though, the quoted figures of 5 books from 14 million population means purchasing a few weekly lottery tickets will soon take you past your publication possibility.

Calla Lily
09-05-2007, 04:01 PM
I'm reminded of the words of Han Solo in Return of the Jedi (I think):

"Never tell me the odds."

Momento Mori
09-05-2007, 04:08 PM
The only way the lottery and publishing industry are comparable is that you have to enter in order to stand any chance of winning in the first place.

MM

ccarver30
09-05-2007, 04:49 PM
Nice MM. :D

L M Ashton
09-05-2007, 04:55 PM
Huh. So maybe that's why I never win the lotto...

benbradley
09-05-2007, 05:50 PM
Huh. So maybe that's why I never win the lotto...

You keep sending your manuscripts to the lottery commission?

maestrowork
09-05-2007, 05:53 PM
The two aren't comparable - you can't be better than anyone else at 'playing' the lottery. Every single number combination has an equal chance of winning, something that just isn't true of books.

I agree -- one is a pure mathematical probability issue - pure chance. The other requires talent, work, skills, desires, etc. and you can't even begin to measure that.

It's not as if everyone who ever writes and put their mss. out there has equal chances, unlike, um, lottery.

rugcat
09-05-2007, 06:12 PM
I agree -- one is a pure mathematical probability issue - pure chance. The other requires talent, work, skills, desires, etc. and you can't even begin to measure thatBut let's change it a bit with some assumptions. Suppose youíre a fantasy writer. And letís also suppose you've written a reasonably good book, good enough in fact to be published by a major publisher Ė Tor, Eos, Roc, etc.

We all know how hard it is to get published. It seems like an unbelievably rare accomplishment. But go into a SF/F bookstore and look around. Shelf after shelf of books, floor to ceiling. And for every writer you know, there are ten youíve never even heard of.

So what are your chances then of hitting the (relative) big time? (Like, say, Anne Rice) Or of even making a living off your writing? One in a thousand? A hundred? One in ten?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Jamesaritchie
09-05-2007, 08:01 PM
So what are your chances then of hitting the (relative) big time? (Like, say, Anne Rice) Or of even making a living off your writing? One in a thousand? A hundred? One in ten?

Inquiring minds want to know.

If you write well enough, if you tell a story well enough, if you build characters readers care about, the odds are pretty much 100% in your favor. No matter what the scenario, writing remains talent and skill.

Soccer Mom
09-05-2007, 08:18 PM
No amount of talent or skill or hard work can change my odds on winning the lottery.

I save my pennies from playing futile games of chance and spend them on postage for submissions, thank you.

BTW: :D I thought this thread was going to be about Patricia's book.

ink wench
09-05-2007, 08:32 PM
Just for fun you could buy a lottery ticket for every query you send. See which jackpot you hit first. :)

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-05-2007, 08:37 PM
I don't know that it's talent alone. If talent really determined success then people like Terry Goodkind wouldn't have a career.

Or a more socially acceptable example, Paris Hilton wouldn't get any gigs acting if talent actually mattered.

Don't get me wrong. Talent does matter. But there are varying degrees of talent, and more often than not shallow books are more successful than really thoughtful, extremely well written ones. For all of Rowling's glory, the Harry Potter novels just aren't very deep. Maybe this can be excused since she's writing children's fiction, and therefore, at least to some degree she has to keep things a bit simpler. But there are a lot of really popular writers out there who can't hold a candle to some of the less successful authors out there when it comes to talent.

That said, they say that 95% of all manuscripts submitted by first time authors is unpublishable, damn near unreadable crap. And of the 5% remaining, more than half get thrown out for not following the submission guidelines. So you're really only competing with 2% of the people out there, and while that still might be dozens or even hundreds of people, your odds are still significantly better than ever coming close to winning the lottery.

Azraelsbane
09-05-2007, 08:47 PM
I don't know that it's talent alone. If talent really determined success then people like Terry Goodkind wouldn't have a career.



Wizard's First Rule was a great book. Goodkind and Jordan are just great examples of how an author can murder a good story as well as birth one.

maestrowork
09-05-2007, 09:15 PM
No amount of talent or skill or hard work can change my odds on winning the lottery.

Another, better analogy is gambling. I can play all I want and the odds for me winning the lottery remains small. I can increase my chance slightly by buying 100,000 tickets instead of one, but the odds are still very small, and I will more likely than not lose $100,000 if I do that.

Or I can play Blackjack. It's still a chance game but my odds of winning increases tremendously if I'm a good player and know my strategy. I'll be honest to say I've never lost in Blackjack. Does that means my odds are 100%? It's part luck and part skills/strategy. And I get out of the game when I'm still winning.

If you look purely at the numbers the odds seem bad: millions of people write and only a handful become very successful. But if you consider everything, then it really is not just a chance game. Certain amount of luck is involved but there are other things in play: skills, talent, market, needs, the stories themselves (you can the greatest writer in the world but if your story doesn't interest anyone, no one will buy). Unlike the lottery and more like Blackjack, your chances are much, much, much greater if you possess these qualities.

Roger J Carlson
09-05-2007, 09:22 PM
Don't get me wrong. Talent does matter. But there are varying degrees of talent, and more often than not shallow books are more successful than really thoughtful, extremely well written ones. For all of Rowling's glory, the Harry Potter novels just aren't very deep. Maybe this can be excused since she's writing children's fiction, and therefore, at least to some degree she has to keep things a bit simpler. But there are a lot of really popular writers out there who can't hold a candle to some of the less successful authors out there when it comes to talent.Talent = depth? Says who?

Birol
09-05-2007, 09:24 PM
I don't know that it's talent alone. If talent really determined success then people like Terry Goodkind wouldn't have a career.

This attitude, that really successful writers actually write crap and don't deserve to be published is wearing thin with me. [Note: I'm not speaking as a mod here.] If the books really and truly sucked, the readers wouldn't buy them, they wouldn't recommend them to their friends, and they wouldn't go looking for the next one. They just wouldn't. Readers are fickle like that.

Stories don't have to necessarily be deep or have layers or great underlying meaning. They can exist to simply entertain. People like to escape. They like to be entertained. And the writers who are successful do that very, very well.


Wizard's First Rule was a great book. Goodkind and Jordan are just great examples of how an author can murder a good story as well as birth one.

The early Wheel of Time books were very captivating. They pulled the reader into the world and made him/her care about the characters. Later books seemed to have lost forward momentum and, consequently, Jordan lost readers, but he didn't lose all of his readers and his books continue to sell really, really well because his readers care about the characters. They want to know what happened to them and how the story, which was a good story, ended.

There's a lesson to be learned there.

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-05-2007, 10:03 PM
Talent = depth? Says who?

Maybe I should've said "smart" instead, but shallow fit and depth matched it better than shifting gears and making it about intelligence. Plus the I don't think the Harry Potter books are stupid. But it's popcorn. It's candy. There's some real swordfish steaks out there that struggle like crazy.

But smart fits my point better. There are some incredibly simple-minded stories being told out there. I can't tell you how sick and tired I am of seeing Farmer Boys Finding Special Powers and Destroying the Dark Lord, Good vs. Evil stories out there. I think something can be relatively simple in presentation and still be incredibly smart and straightforward. Look at Serenity for instance. Not everything requires a great deal of thinking on the reader/viewrs part to be smart and good, but there's a major difference between shallow writing and smart writing.


This attitude, that really successful writers actually write crap and don't deserve to be published is wearing thin with me. If the books really and truly sucked, the readers wouldn't buy them, they wouldn't recommend them to their friends, and they wouldn't go looking for the next one. They just wouldn't. Readers are fickle like that.

Don't know that that's true. Else American Idol wouldn't have been the most popular show in America, y'know? People buy crap all the time. We're basically bred to. But even if we're talking about books, a Star Wars hardcover is an instant best seller, it doesn't matter who's writing them. Likewise, if you write those Dungeons and Dragons novels you can wind up racking in hundreds of thousands of dollars off of a single book because they sell so well, and those have to be some of the most poorly written books out there.

The best novel I've ever read sold less than 20,000 copies (though that number may have gone up by now, but not by much).

But the meat of my argument wasn't that talent isn't a factor. Just that it wasn't the only factor. Or even the main factor, when it comes to determining success.


Stories don't have to necessarily be deep or have layers or great underlying meaning. They can exist to simply entertain. People like to escape. They like to be entertained. And the writers who are successful do that very, very well.

You're right, but I don't think that's a product of talented writing so much as it is an ability to appeal to shallow readers. I often wonder about people who're just looking to "escape" and simply be "entertained" by movies and books and TV. It's this sort of mentality that makes crapfactory movies like The Matrix Revolutions and Scary Movie 3,217 sell so well. That doesn't make them good movies. It just makes them catering to people's shallow and easily amused mentalities.

People assume that books are automatically better simply because people have decided that anyone who reads for enjoyment must be highly intelligent, but this really isn't the case. People read bad books all the time. If they didn't, then there wouldn't be so many bad books published.

Again though, that isn't to say that all books that sell well are automatically bad books. But talent most certainly isn't the deciding factor for success.

Soccer Mom
09-05-2007, 10:07 PM
I happen to like American Idol.

One man's crap is another man's Antique Roadshow treasure.

Bubastes
09-05-2007, 10:08 PM
I don't think I'll ever understand how a writer can succeed with the attitude of "readers are shallow and stupid." That kind of disrespect for the people who (we hope) will be buying our books just boggles my mind.

Jamesaritchie
09-05-2007, 10:09 PM
I don't know that it's talent alone. If talent really determined success then people like Terry Goodkind wouldn't have a career.

Or a more socially acceptable example, Paris Hilton wouldn't get any gigs acting if talent actually mattered.

Don't get me wrong. Talent does matter. But there are varying degrees of talent, and more often than not shallow books are more successful than really thoughtful, extremely well written ones. For all of Rowling's glory, the Harry Potter novels just aren't very deep. Maybe this can be excused since she's writing children's fiction, and therefore, at least to some degree she has to keep things a bit simpler. But there are a lot of really popular writers out there who can't hold a candle to some of the less successful authors out there when it comes to talent.

That said, they say that 95% of all manuscripts submitted by first time authors is unpublishable, damn near unreadable crap. And of the 5% remaining, more than half get thrown out for not following the submission guidelines. So you're really only competing with 2% of the people out there, and while that still might be dozens or even hundreds of people, your odds are still significantly better than ever coming close to winning the lottery.

I think "deep" is word used by those who have no idea what matters. "Deep' is not only an elitist term, it's an incorrect one. "Deep" is almost always synonymous with" can't write a grocery list without help."

"Deep" is the book you like, shallow is the one you don't like.

Harry Potter is more meaningful to those who love him than all the deep crap out there. It's not only elistist to think otherwise, it's silly.

Terry Goodkind has more talent than most, and because you don't like him doesn't lesson his talent an iota. And Paris Hilton has nothing at all to do with anything. You might as well have brought in a complaint about a new car.

The bestselling writers are invariably also the most talented writers, but their talent lies in areas that actually matter to real people, not in writing something "deep" that requires hip boots to wade through.

This nonsense about bestselling writers writing crap is not only old, it's an indication to me that more people out to play video games and give up reading. They aren't cut out for it.

Shallow books, my ass. There are no shallow books, there are only shallow readers.

Stew21
09-05-2007, 10:09 PM
gordon? is that you?

MidnightMuse
09-05-2007, 10:26 PM
My Great Good God - I don't watch a movie or read a book to be educated - I watch that movie or read that book to be entertained. If I want education, I'll pick up a non-fiction (which I do quite often).

Writers who blanket-insult the very people who we all hope will purchase our books boggle my mind. Unless a writer is hoping only 403 people buy his/her book - and pass an IQ and Appreciation Test first, then I just don't get it.

I don't like Harry Potter, but clearly they're successful books, written by a successful writer. I don't like James Bond flicks, but millions of people can't be wrong. I can't tolerate American Idol, but I know people who are greatly entertained by that show and I say they're lucky to have entertainment.

At least I can appreciate that which I don't personally enjoy.

Roger J Carlson
09-05-2007, 11:13 PM
People assume that books are automatically better simply because people have decided that anyone who reads for enjoyment must be highly intelligent, but this really isn't the case. People read bad books all the time. If they didn't, then there wouldn't be so many bad books published.

Again though, that isn't to say that all books that sell well are automatically bad books. But talent most certainly isn't the deciding factor for success.You might as well say oboists have less talent than pianists because they only play one staff at a time while pianists play four simultaneously. Far more depth. Far more smart. Fact is, they are different talents. Related, yes, but different nonetheless.

Is Celine Dion less talented than Beverly Sills? For opera, sure. But for all her vocal talent, Beverly couldn't pack them in like Celine. Personally, I'm inclined to like Beverly Sills more, but I don't make the mistake of thinking my personal taste dictates some universal "good".

I think it's equally fair to say that those "smart" writers you seem to prefer simply aren't talented enough to write a book that appeals to a broad audience.

CoriSCapnSkip
09-06-2007, 07:36 AM
Just for fun you could buy a lottery ticket for every query you send. See which jackpot you hit first. :)

Now, THERE'S a great idea!

Stijn Hommes
09-06-2007, 01:00 PM
So what are your chances then of hitting the (relative) big time? (Like, say, Anne Rice) Or of even making a living off your writing? One in a thousand? A hundred? One in ten? There's quite some people who aren't as well known as Rice or King but can still quite comfortably live off their writing...

Stijn Hommes
09-06-2007, 01:12 PM
Don't get me wrong. Talent does matter. But there are varying degrees of talent, and more often than not shallow books are more successful than really thoughtful, extremely well written ones. Shallow is generic, the more generic something is the more people will be in the pool of interested people. Take football/soccer or any other mass thing. People agree it is the best thing since sliced bread just to be part of a bigger group.

For all of Rowling's glory, the Harry Potter novels just aren't very deep. Maybe this can be excused since she's writing children's fiction, and therefore, at least to some degree she has to keep things a bit simpler. Harry Potter not deep? It clearly has a deeper meaning. Did you bother to read it, or are you commenting on a story you're not intimately familiar with? As for that second comment: Children's fiction doesn't need to be dumbed down and Rowling set out to write a story she liked. It just happened to be labelled children's fiction by the publisher because Harry was 11 in the first book. They didn't publish adult editions later on because it is a kid's book.

Momento Mori
09-06-2007, 02:26 PM
Shane Fitzsimmons:
For all of Rowling's glory, the Harry Potter novels just aren't very deep. Maybe this can be excused since she's writing children's fiction, and therefore, at least to some degree she has to keep things a bit simpler.

Shane, sorry to pick on this (because I can see that other people are wading in on what you said), but I just want to say that as someone who is trying to write for the YA market, I can assure you that there's nothing shallow about modern childrens' or YA writing. Nor can you get away with dealing with "dumbing down" to the audience by relying on simplistic concepts or notions. In fact, many YA writers at the moment are dealing with complex social issues and trying to do so in a way that will hold the attention of young people, e.g. I'm reading one book at the moment that tells the story of the Rwandan genocide from the perspective of a teenager and it's easily the most harrowing and emotionally enthralling thing I've ever read.

Regarding your comment about Rowling, those books deal with a number of issues that are pretty complex - death (including the death of friends and family), government control, choice, the fact that evil isn't just one bad guy with a wand and a grudge. At heart the basic plot of those books is boy -v- big bad wizard but there are levels of complexity to them that enable readers to draw out more and that, I would suggest, is why they're so popular with adults and children.

To quote your own signature:


Writing is about effective communication, nothing more, nothing less. Once you get that out of the way, it's all storytelling. In other words, if you can put together a coherent sentence, and you've got a good story together, shut up and write. It's the best advice you'll ever get.

The reason the Rowlings and even (gag) the Dan Browns of this world are a success is precisely because they put together a coherent sentence and had a good story. If we're talking about the quality of the actual text then I agree, stylistically neither are particularly great but then in my opinion, the problem with some so called 'great literary' writers is that they let the words get in the way of the story. I can appreciate beautiful, well-crafted writing as much as the next person, but there are times when I'm really just looking for something half-decent to carry me away for a few hours.

MM

Dave.C.Robinson
09-06-2007, 04:09 PM
There's no more chance in getting published than there is chance in recommending a book for your friend to read. You recommend books because you liked them and think your friend will too. Agents do the same thing for publishers. You write a good enough book and people will recommend it.

It's not chance.

It's about the product.

If you have something good enough to recommend it will get recommended.

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-06-2007, 09:56 PM
I don't think I'll ever understand how a writer can succeed with the attitude of "readers are shallow and stupid." That kind of disrespect for the people who (we hope) will be buying our books just boggles my mind.

My favorite author once had a guy refuse to read a spin-off Star Wars title staring Mace Windu because he hated Samuel L. Jackson.

This idea that writers should love everybody and think everybody's great is a pretty one, but it's not something I subscribe to.

I'm a realist. Maybe it's not pretty, but it's honest.


My Great Good God - I don't watch a movie or read a book to be educated - I watch that movie or read that book to be entertained.

There's always somebody who pulls this line. I don't watch movies or read books to be educated either. There's thought provoking, and then there's informational. If you don't understand the difference, there's no use explaining it to you.


I don't like James Bond flicks, but millions of people can't be wrong.

Um, yes they can. In fact, they are. Most people eat McDonalds and drink Coke. It's junkfood, but millions of people love it. I prefer steak. I prefer fruit and vegitables and things with substance. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to enjoy this stuff either. It's just there. But people love junkfood.

By 2010 50% of America is going to be clinically obese. That's over 150 MILLION people. Because they eat shit, and love it.

You still gonna tell me that millions of people can't be wrong?


At least I can appreciate that which I don't personally enjoy.

So can I. I can appreciate Harry Potter. I even enjoy the movies, despite not being able to read the books. But I still can identify that they're not particularly deep. They're junkfood for me in an otherwise balanced and healthy diet.


I think it's equally fair to say that those "smart" writers you seem to prefer simply aren't talented enough to write a book that appeals to a broad audience.

Right, and that's the big conundrum for people like me. How to find a perfect balance of intelligence while still being mainstream enough for the masses. Like the first Matrix movie. I want to write smart books, but I also want to appeal to a mass audience. It's certainly possible, there are plenty of good movies that manage to do it.

Hell, I'd love to say that I'd rather write good books than successful ones. Ultimately though, I want to write for a living, so the books need to sell. But you best believe I aim to write the smartest book I'm capable of.


Did you bother to read it, or are you commenting on a story you're not intimately familiar with?

I wouldn't consider myself intimately familiar with it. I've read the first book, which should be enough. I've contemplated going on to reading the fifth book to see if she's improved at all, as I've heard she has.

But to say that I need to be intimately familiar with something in order to identify its traits is pretty ridiculous. How many pounds of cow dung did you munch on before you knew it didn't taste good? Y'see what I'm saying? It doesn't take much.

Again though, I'm not saying that the Harry Potter books are bad. I love Rowling. She's making fantasy cool again. Someday these kids being raised on Harry Potter are going to be reading my stuff, when they're sick of candy and're looking for something a bit more substantial.


Shane, sorry to pick on this (because I can see that other people are wading in on what you said), but I just want to say that as someone who is trying to write for the YA market, I can assure you that there's nothing shallow about modern childrens' or YA writing. Nor can you get away with dealing with "dumbing down" to the audience by relying on simplistic concepts or notions. In fact, many YA writers at the moment are dealing with complex social issues and trying to do so in a way that will hold the attention of young people, e.g. I'm reading one book at the moment that tells the story of the Rwandan genocide from the perspective of a teenager and it's easily the most harrowing and emotionally enthralling thing I've ever read.

Y'know what? Fair enough. Most of my experience with YA fiction is just the award-winning Scholastic crap I read as a kid, like the Giver and Hatchet (given, I loved the hatchet, but c'mon). I moved on to some pretty hard-core stuff pretty early on, and I'll admit that when I think of YA, I think of Babysitter's Club and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

So fair enough. I retract any negativity directed at YA fiction.


Regarding your comment about Rowling, those books deal with a number of issues that are pretty complex - death (including the death of friends and family), government control, choice, the fact that evil isn't just one bad guy with a wand and a grudge. At heart the basic plot of those books is boy -v- big bad wizard but there are levels of complexity to them that enable readers to draw out more and that, I would suggest, is why they're so popular with adults and children.

The bulk of my experience with Harry Potter has been with the movies. I read the first book, knew I didn't really like it by the end of the first few pages, and by the time I'd finished it I knew it wasn't for me, so I never bothered watching any more of them. I've enjoyed the movies well enough, but the concepts presented in them, while definitely a bit more deep than the garbage presented in films like Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars and other heavy-handed kids movies, were just so in-your-face and simplistic that it had my shifting in my seat and rolling my eyes more than once.

I think it was the most recent Potter movie, with the whole bad teacher plot thread, that really just seemed heavy-handed and simple to me. Maybe it was handled better in the books, I'll give it that much, but still. Again though, I'm not saying it sucks or anything. I don't think Harry Potter is bad. It's just not as clever as I think it thinks it is.


The reason the Rowlings and even (gag) the Dan Browns of this world are a success is precisely because they put together a coherent sentence and had a good story. If we're talking about the quality of the actual text then I agree, stylistically neither are particularly great but then in my opinion, the problem with some so called 'great literary' writers is that they let the words get in the way of the story. I can appreciate beautiful, well-crafted writing as much as the next person, but there are times when I'm really just looking for something half-decent to carry me away for a few hours.

Agreed, but my quote was specifically geared toward Rules of Writing, not about how to write a good story. The prerequisite there is that you have a good story to tell, and know how to tell it.

Birol
09-06-2007, 10:08 PM
There's always somebody who pulls this line. I don't watch movies or read books to be educated either. There's thought provoking, and then there's informational. If you don't understand the difference, there's no use explaining it to you.

This line? So, what you're saying is that your mind is made up and anyone who has a different opinion than you is wrong and you're not going to listen or talk to them?

Okay. That's fine.

The thing is, I get informational. I get thought-provoking. I even get educational. But I use my brain pretty much all day long. Sometimes, I just want to turn it off and decompress. Sometimes, I just want a little bowl of ice cream before bed. The thing is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

It's not the single bowl of ice cream that makes you fat.

MidnightMuse
09-06-2007, 10:20 PM
You still gonna tell me that millions of people can't be wrong?

See, that's the difference between you and me. I can appreciate that someone has an opinion other than my own, say - a lover of Americal Idol - without intimating that they're an ass for wasting that 60 minutes every week.

Obesity - to use your example - is a choice. If millions of Americans wish to make that choice, it's their right as Americans to do so. If you want to eat healthy, that's your right. Both rights are equally worthy of fighting to defend.

I'll back out of this conversation, though, since there are more important things to get worked up about in daily life. Those with more time to kill can have my brick.

Have a nice day :)

rugcat
09-06-2007, 10:33 PM
Personal opinion -- from what I've read in my own genre, fantasy, I think in general YA fantasy writers are both more entertaining and better writers than the adult writers.

But I think the question of books being ďdeepĒ is just another argument over whether any work of art has intrinsic value, or if itís totally dependent of the reaction of readers, or listeners, or whatever. This has been hashed out to death in previous threads.

But I have to admit, I think Shane has a point. I love Harry Potter. I also love The Wind In The Willows.

I love them both for different reasons, but I do see a difference. The Wind In The Willows is, dare I say it, deep. To me it resonates on many levels in a way that Harry Potter does not.

I also love John D MacDonaldís Travis McGee books. Iíve read them all numerous times, and theyíve given me untold hours of pleasure. But thereís a difference between those books and War and Peace that has nothing to do with which you like more, or which is ďbetter written,Ē but everything to do with the nature of art.

Dave.C.Robinson
09-06-2007, 10:35 PM
If I have to choose between being respected by critics or loved by readers, I'm going to go with the readers.

I also find pulp and genre fiction to be much more readable than a lot of literary fiction. I read for what's written, not for the writing.

I'm not a fan of Jordan or Goodkind, though in both cases I enjoyed the first book in their mega series. The problem I think some people have is that different writers are good at different parts of the craft. If those parts are what attract you as a reader, you'll like their stuff. However, if they're bad at the parts you're sensitive to, they won't.

Often a "bad" published writer is simply bad at the parts that matter to that reader, and good at other parts. We're all different with different tastes.

Some see the Matrix as brilliant, original, and thought provoking. I saw a fun re-take on the idea behind Raymond Gallun's The Eden Cycle.

Kate Thornton
09-06-2007, 10:42 PM
I've enjoyed the movies well enough, but the concepts presented in them, while definitely a bit more deep than the garbage presented in films like Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars and other heavy-handed kids movies, were just so in-your-face and simplistic that it had my shifting in my seat and rolling my eyes more than once.
(bolding mine)

Please reconsider The Chronicles of Narnia - calling C. S. Lewis' complex philosophical series "garbage" does both the film of the first part and yourself a disservice. The ideas behind 'The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe' included exposure of the Pevensie children to provisional answers regarding faith, death, the fluidity of time, betrayal and forgiveness. I think most adults who went to see it without children were familiar with the whole series and with C.S. Lewis' other works, perhaps even with his life. Lewis' remarkable transition from confirmed athiest to Christian and his long friendship with J.R.R.Tolkein make him a wonderful subject of study, even without the thought-provoking concepts of the Narnia books.

Roger J Carlson
09-06-2007, 10:59 PM
I can appreciate Harry Potter. I even enjoy the movies, despite not being able to read the books. But I still can identify that they're not particularly deep. They're junkfood for me in an otherwise balanced and healthy diet.

I wouldn't consider myself intimately familiar with it. I've read the first book, which should be enough. I've contemplated going on to reading the fifth book to see if she's improved at all, as I've heard she has.

But to say that I need to be intimately familiar with something in order to identify its traits is pretty ridiculous. How many pounds of cow dung did you munch on before you knew it didn't taste good? Y'see what I'm saying? It doesn't take much.

The bulk of my experience with Harry Potter has been with the movies. I read the first book, knew I didn't really like it by the end of the first few pages, and by the time I'd finished it I knew it wasn't for me, so I never bothered watching any more of them. I've enjoyed the movies well enough, but the concepts presented in them, while definitely a bit more deep than the garbage presented in films like Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars and other heavy-handed kids movies, were just so in-your-face and simplistic that it had my shifting in my seat and rolling my eyes more than once.This is laughable. You presume to dismiss books you've never read. You critique them based on the movies that were made from them. If you want people to think you're a "smart" writer, you're going to have to do better than that.

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-06-2007, 11:39 PM
This line? So, what you're saying is that your mind is made up and anyone who has a different opinion than you is wrong and you're not going to listen or talk to them?

Not at all. But I've heard that line before, a lot, so I've argued against it, alot. Is my mind made up? Yeah, but I don't think making up your mind should have a negative spin on it. Am I unwilling to listen or talk to somebody who has a different opinion? Of course I'm willing to listen and talk, that's pretty much what I've been doing this whole time. But sometimes people say things without thinking them through, and that kind of non-logic is easily torn to pieces. When I come up against that kind of blind bias, I tend to just ignore it. I don't think that's wrong.

Does a person of strong Christian faith open himself up to the possibility that Muslims or Buddhists or Athiests are right? Sometimes, sure. But I don't know that any strong Christians would look down on another Christian for ignoring an Athiest telling him God doesn't exist. Does that make the Christian an asshole?


Sometimes, I just want to turn it off and decompress. Sometimes, I just want a little bowl of ice cream before bed. The thing is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

It's not the single bowl of ice cream that makes you fat.

Junk food has its place in a balanced diet. But it's still junk food. The Transformers movie was good fun. But it wasn't a great movie. It was fun, and entertaining. But not anything of any real substance. It was junk food.

I'm not condemning junk food so much as I'm simply calling it junk food. I only condemn people who eat nothing but junk food.


Obesity - to use your example - is a choice. If millions of Americans wish to make that choice, it's their right as Americans to do so. If you want to eat healthy, that's your right. Both rights are equally worthy of fighting to defend.

I guess that's where we differ on opinions. Lazy people certainly have the right to sit around on their ass and not contribute to society in any meaningful way beyond sitting in a cubicle or picking up my garbage. They have that right, but I'm not going to respect their lazy asses. They don't deserve it.


Please reconsider The Chronicles of Narnia - calling C. S. Lewis' complex philosophical series "garbage" does both the film of the first part and yourself a disservice.

From what I remember of the book, it was passable. My comment was pointed at the movie, which, in my opinion, was so bad burning it would cause global temperatures to raise by five degrees, for all the pollution it'd cause.


This is laughable. You presume to dismiss books you've never read. You critique them based on the movies that were made from them. If you want people to think you're a "smart" writer, you're going to have to do better than that.

I read the first book. You're going to tell me that just because I didn't like it I'm not allowed to form an opinion of Rowling's ability to write unless I've read the other six? That's laughable. If somebody writes a book and I hate it, why would I go on and read the other books in the series? How does that make any sense.

As for judging the books on the movies, I never said that. When I was talking about the movies I said so. When I was talking about the books, I also said so. What's the problem here? I read a whole book, by the end of it I knew I didn't like the way she wrote.

I suppose next you're going to tell me I'm not allowed to hate The Shining until I've read "It," along with every other book Stephen King has written. It's a fact of the writing biz that if readers don't like your first book, they're unlikely to read anything else you've written. This is stupid? I don't see how.

RG570
09-06-2007, 11:55 PM
You might as well say oboists have less talent than pianists because they only play one staff at a time while pianists play four simultaneously. Far more depth. Far more smart. Fact is, they are different talents. Related, yes, but different nonetheless.


Actually this is more like comparing a schooled pianist with a bedroom guitarist. The bedroom guitarist can actually make millions, even though he doesn't even know the notes on the guitar, has no harmonic vocabulary whatsoever,plays two-fingered chords the whole time and telegraphs tired riffs, while the pianist will have to think of another way to make money.

You can't seriously say that wide appeal is the only measure of a great writer. That's quite ridiculous.

These attitudes really show what's wrong with everything, and how taste is now dictated by the market and not by the virtue of the work itself. The market tells you what to like, not the other way around.

That doesn't mean that entertaining novels are bad and that nobody should read them. But for others to come out and rake intellectuals over the coals just because they have different aims is asinine. It saddens me that there are people making a living from this profession who would say that writers who write "deep" stories aren't fit to write a grocery list.

This anti-intellectual stance is frightening, but somehow not surprising given the current climate. It's nothing short of oppressive. If this is how things are going to go, eventually you'll have bookstores full of books that never challenge, never upset, never make us question anything. Because making you think is bad writing.

Honestly, it's the most bizarre thing I've heard of.

Dave.C.Robinson
09-07-2007, 12:20 AM
There is no problem with reading one book by J.K. Rowling and deciding you didn't like it and therefore don't want to read any of her other books. That's perfectly reasonable. The problem comes when you generalize from a statistical sample of one. If you have only read one book, and a first novel at that, you cannot know for sure if someone is a good or bad writer now. It's enough to decide that because you didn't like this one you don't want to chance the others. It's not enough to pass judgment on that person's work as a whole.

To say "I don't like this book" is not the same thing as saying "this book is badly written." They are two different concepts. The first is subjective, the second is objective. It's also a big leap from "this book is badly written," to "x is a bad writer." Now it's perfectly reasonable for a reader to judge that a book is badly written and decide that they don't think the author could have improved enough to make another book worth the attempt. However, that's not the same as saying the author is a bad writer. I'd go so far as to say that J.K. Rowling is a very good writer. Anyone who can not only sell as many books as she does, but have the public read them, is very good indeed at whatever aspects of the craft matter to most readers.

Movies are never a fair representation of books and vice versa. A movie can and often does miss the entire point of the book it supposedly represents. Sometimes all they want is the title. Just try comparing the Steve Martin movie to the book Cheaper by the Dozen. All they have in common is the title.

Roger J Carlson
09-07-2007, 12:21 AM
This anti-intellectual stance is frightening, but somehow not surprising given the current climate. It's nothing short of oppressive. If this is how things are going to go, eventually you'll have bookstores full of books that never challenge, never upset, never make us question anything. Because making you think is bad writing.

Honestly, it's the most bizarre thing I've heard of.Actually, what's frightening is the thought that a small group of "intellectuals" gets to dictate what's "good" for everybody else. Talk about oppressive! If intellectuals had there way, bookstores would be full of books that never entertain, never uplift, never tell a good story. Because entertainment is bad writing.

That's truly bizarre.

Birol
09-07-2007, 12:27 AM
I guess that's where we differ on opinions. Lazy people certainly have the right to sit around on their ass and not contribute to society in any meaningful way beyond sitting in a cubicle or picking up my garbage. They have that right, but I'm not going to respect their lazy asses. They don't deserve it.

Whoa. Stop right there. How dare you condemn honest, hardworking individuals just because you do not, or cannot, appreciate the contribution they make to society? Having a blue collar or non-managerial or non-academic position is a far cry from being synonymous with laziness. To call individuals lazy simply because of how they earn their living is the height of arrogance.

It is one thing to decry the quality of entertainment available in the world today. It is quite another to look down on large sections of the population just because of what they do for a living. That is an elitist attitude that should have no place in the modern world.

It was a blue collar factory worker who built -- maybe not designed but built -- the computer you're typing on right now. It's a garbage collector who keeps your streets free from the stinking piles of refuse that would only serve to attract rats and vermin. It's white- and pink-collar cubicle dwellers who perform the business and customer service functions that permit corporations to exist at the levels that they do at all.

How dare you look down upon them with elitist snobbery and declare their labor, that you benefit from, unmeaningful or the result of laziness?

Birol
09-07-2007, 12:36 AM
Actually this is more like comparing a schooled pianist with a bedroom guitarist. The bedroom guitarist can actually make millions, even though he doesn't even know the notes on the guitar, has no harmonic vocabulary whatsoever,plays two-fingered chords the whole time and telegraphs tired riffs, while the pianist will have to think of another way to make money.

You can't seriously say that wide appeal is the only measure of a great writer. That's quite ridiculous.

These attitudes really show what's wrong with everything, and how taste is now dictated by the market and not by the virtue of the work itself. The market tells you what to like, not the other way around.

That doesn't mean that entertaining novels are bad and that nobody should read them. But for others to come out and rake intellectuals over the coals just because they have different aims is asinine. It saddens me that there are people making a living from this profession who would say that writers who write "deep" stories aren't fit to write a grocery list.

This anti-intellectual stance is frightening, but somehow not surprising given the current climate. It's nothing short of oppressive. If this is how things are going to go, eventually you'll have bookstores full of books that never challenge, never upset, never make us question anything. Because making you think is bad writing.

Honestly, it's the most bizarre thing I've heard of.

I'm not seeing this thread as an anti-intellectual stance. I see it as quite the opposite. Individuals who like non-intellectual material, who just want to be entertained, are being looked down upon and basically being told they are incapable of deciding what they do and do not like on their own, apart from what the market offers them.

In some aspects of my life, I am considered an intellectual. I am learned. While I'm enjoying re-reading Romeo and Juliet now and select works of Thomas Hardy and Nabokov, I also enjoy watching Hell's Kitchen, the new Doctor Who, and reading the Bone series by Jeff Smith.

I'm being told that because I like somethings that aren't intellectually challenging, that because sometimes I just like to be entertained, that I'm just a sheep who accepts whatever crap the market offers me with no thought of my own, that I'm lazy, and that I'm contributing to the softening of the America's mental waistline. I'm saying that ain't so.

Soccer Mom
09-07-2007, 12:53 AM
I guess that's where we differ on opinions. Lazy people certainly have the right to sit around on their ass and not contribute to society in any meaningful way beyond sitting in a cubicle or picking up my garbage. They have that right, but I'm not going to respect their lazy asses. They don't deserve it.


Whoa there Nelly! Once again the humble Office Cow is getting slammed for chewing cud in a cubicle barn.

And you couldn't pay me enough to hang off the back of the truck and schlepp your garbage. That, my friend, is some seriously difficult work and I appreciate those who schlepp mine. That's a tough way to earn a living.

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-07-2007, 12:59 AM
Whoa. Stop right there. How dare you condemn honest, hardworking individuals. . .

I don't condemn honest, hardworking individuals. That's kind of the point.


. . .just because you do not, or cannot, appreciate the contribution they make to society?

That ain't it at all. I love these people. The world would not turn without them. It's sheep like them that allow wolves like me to live truly free and lead the life I want.

But that ain't the point. It ain't the blue collar I have a problem with. Hell, I hate white collared people more than I do blue ones. But still, not the point.

And y'know what? Screw the point. You're not going to get it anyway.

Maybe I am a snob, but at least I'm up front about it, unlike the bullshit that goes on in threads like this one:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68912&page=52




I'm being told that because I like somethings that aren't intellectually challenging, that because sometimes I just like to be entertained, that I'm just a sheep who accepts whatever crap the market offers me with no thought of my own, that I'm lazy, and that I'm contributing to the softening of the America's mental waistline. I'm saying that ain't so.

I ain't saying that either. This isn't about intellectually challenging. It's about intellectual period. And it isn't the sometimes that bothers me either. It's the people who won't watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon because it has subtitles.

I watch all kinds of garbage, including 24, Smallville, the 007 movies, Harry Potter, and plenty of other stuff. I'm completely accepting of stuff that has no real value to it beyond pure dumb entertainment. But you're bitching because I'm acknowledging it as dumb entertainment. It's not smart just because it appeals to a wide audience, because as I've adequately explained, millions of people at at McDonalds every day. That's got to be the crappiest bunch of crap you could ever shovel into your mouth, but tons of people do it several times a week.

rugcat
09-07-2007, 01:09 AM
I suppose next you're going to tell me I'm not allowed to hate The Shining until I've read "It," along with every other book Stephen King has written.You hated The Shining? Now I am beginning to wonder about you.

Stijn Hommes
09-07-2007, 01:10 AM
See, that's the difference between you and me. I can appreciate that someone has an opinion other than my own, say - a lover of Americal Idol - without intimating that they're an ass for wasting that 60 minutes every week.

Obesity - to use your example - is a choice. If millions of Americans wish to make that choice, it's their right as Americans to do so. If you want to eat healthy, that's your right. Both rights are equally worthy of fighting to defend.

I'll back out of this conversation, though, since there are more important things to get worked up about in daily life. Those with more time to kill can have my brick.

Have a nice day :) Yes, it's a choice but I'll have to grant him, choosing to put your body to hell and disrupt health services by applying for money en masse, is a pretty bad choice. I'd even go as far as to say it's a wrong choice. It has so many bad consequences...

Birol
09-07-2007, 01:11 AM
And y'know what? Screw the point. You're not going to get it anyway.

When an individual fails to comprehend the point which you are endeavoring to communicate, is that the fault of the individual receiving the communication or the fault of the individual composing and initiating the communication? Are you, in fact, expressing dissatisfaction with the situation, expressing dissatisfaction with me, expressing dissatisfaction with the community, and/or expressing dissatisfaction with society because of your own shortcomings in facilitating discussion, understanding, and comprehension? Perhaps your the dissatisfaction you are expressing is a result of your failure to sway individuals to your way of thinking or perhaps aforementioned dissatisfaction is a result of your inability to make them emotionally and intellectually inferior to you as an individual as a result of the viewpoints you have expressed? Perhaps, you should endeavor to expand on your logic and reasoning and explain said logic and reasoning in greater detail in order to facilitate more complete comprehension of the topic under discussion?

Stijn Hommes
09-07-2007, 01:18 AM
I read the first book. You're going to tell me that just because I didn't like it I'm not allowed to form an opinion of Rowling's ability to write unless I've read the other six? That's laughable. If somebody writes a book and I hate it, why would I go on and read the other books in the series? How does that make any sense. You have every right not to like the first book. I pretty confident in saying it's not the best of the series, but the film didn't do it justice either. What I am saying is that you can't judge the entire series based on the first book which is basically just a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg when the deep stuff only really comes out later. Also, not liking something is clearly something else than writing crap.


I suppose next you're going to tell me I'm not allowed to hate The Shining until I've read "It," along with every other book Stephen King has written. It's a fact of the writing biz that if readers don't like your first book, they're unlikely to read anything else you've written. This is stupid? I don't see how. The Shining and It aren't part of a series. The seven Harry Potter books together tell one big story. The two can't be reasonably compared in that way.

maestrowork
09-07-2007, 01:20 AM
My favorite author once had a guy refuse to read a spin-off Star Wars title staring Mace Windu because he hated Samuel L. Jackson.


For everyone who hates Samuel L. Jackson, there's someone who loves him.



This idea that writers should love everybody and think everybody's great is a pretty one, but it's not something I subscribe to.


That's not what we're talking about here. It's ridiculous. I don't love everyone. And I'm entitled to hate something or someone if I want to. I don't care for some of these writers out there and I've never bought or read their books. The idea, though, is that you shouldn't say "I can't see why they sell so many books because they write crap." You may not like it or buy it -- it's your choice and right as a consumer. But it's not for anyone, especially another writer, to diss them by saying they don't deserve to be successful.


In fact, they are [wrong]. Most people eat McDonalds and drink Coke. It's junkfood, but millions of people love it. I prefer steak. I prefer fruit and vegitables and things with substance. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to enjoy this stuff either. It's just there. But people love junkfood.

By 2010 50% of America is going to be clinically obese. That's over 150 MILLION people. Because they eat shit, and love it.


Right or wrong is subjective. To someone, liking Madonna is wrong. Some people can't stand Shakespeare or Pavarotti. It's all about choice and personal preferences. We can argue that if you eat steak every day you'll get fat and clog up your arteries, too -- so we can say you're WRONG for liking steak. The thing is, McDonald's alone doesn't make people fat or unhealthy -- it's the entire lifestyle choice they make.

If you do some research, you will know that people in America are not overweight because they like their McDonald's -- people in Asia eats McDonald's, too, and other junk food. The problem with Americans -- if we really want to get into it -- is portion control. Have you visited a restaurant lately? The portions are huge, and people finish the portions, and have desserts afterward. That's why Americans are unhealthy, not because they like their Big Mac and fries once in a while.

I like my occasional McD's, too. I like my occasional steak. The other day I had a huge hamburger, a hot dog and some greasy fries, and a large milk shake. I know they're not the healthiest food, but I made a conscientious choice to consume that because I felt like having a burger and enjoyed it very much. But I don't eat that often. I appreciate that the option is there for me to take if I do choose so. I'm very healthy and fit, by the way. If you want to cut out all junk food from your diet, it is YOUR choice and that's fine. But you can't tell others that if you eat fries and burgers they're wrong.



So can I. I can appreciate Harry Potter. I even enjoy the movies, despite not being able to read the books. But I still can identify that they're not particularly deep. They're junkfood for me in an otherwise balanced and healthy diet.


Because a book is not as deep as you would like they're "junk food" for the mind? Oh please.

And Harry Potter, especially the later books, are rather deep for YA. How can you judge that without even reading the books. From the movies? Please, everyone knows the movie versions are nothing like the books. They're abridged, for one thing, and they're more about entertaining people in 2 hours. The Potter books have depth. OK, perhaps it's not Shakespeare, but don't discount them as junk just because they're not Shakespeare or Hemingway.



Hell, I'd love to say that I'd rather write good books than successful ones. Ultimately though, I want to write for a living, so the books need to sell. But you best believe I aim to write the smartest book I'm capable of.


That's your choice. If people want to write books that entertain, so what? Besides, I think it's very presumptuous for anyone to say they're going to write the smartest book. What's smart to YOU may be rather "not very deep" to others. So if someone considers your book "not as deep" as they would like, are you wrong? Are they wrong?


Again though, I'm not saying that the Harry Potter books are bad. I love Rowling. She's making fantasy cool again. Someday these kids being raised on Harry Potter are going to be reading my stuff, when they're sick of candy and're looking for something a bit more substantial.


Again, I find it presumptuous for someone who hasn't read the books to say they're just candy and not substantial.



The bulk of my experience with Harry Potter has been with the movies. I read the first book, knew I didn't really like it by the end of the first few pages, and by the time I'd finished it I knew it wasn't for me, so I never bothered watching any more of them.


I think you need to give the later books a try before you diss Rowling for not being deep enough. I read the first two books, too, and thought they were a bit too "young" for me. But I was actually surprised by the depth of her later work.


I think it was the most recent Potter movie, with the whole bad teacher plot thread, that really just seemed heavy-handed and simple to me. Maybe it was handled better in the books, I'll give it that much, but still. Again though, I'm not saying it sucks or anything. I don't think Harry Potter is bad. It's just not as clever as I think it thinks it is.


Again, it's your own opinion of it and it doesn't mean everyone shares that experience. Some people adore Hemingway and some people can't stand him. And you may think something you write is insightful and deep and intelligent, and Stephen Hawkings might think it's crap. It doesn't mean anyone is wrong... the world is a big place and people can have their own opinion. Still, I think it's fine to have an opinion but one just realize these opinions are personal and not universal. I think it's presumptuous to believe that one is always right and those who don't agree with you are wrong.

rugcat
09-07-2007, 01:35 AM
I'm not seeing this thread as an anti-intellectual stance. I see it as quite the opposite. Individuals who like non-intellectual material, who just want to be entertained, are being looked down upon and basically being told they are incapable of deciding what they do and do not like on their own, apart from what the market offers them. I do think sometimes there tends to be a slight anti-intellectual bent on AW, however. I've been accused on other threads of being an elitist snob because I believe there is a qualitative difference between literary books and genre books, as well as between serious music and pop music.

Which is funny, because I write genre. I love pop culture and I love genre. And I play in a pop band. But thereís a difference between Wes Montgomery on the one hand and Brittany Spears on the other. Or what Iím trying to do with my fantasy writing and what Gabriel Garcia Marquez is doing with his. Itís not just a question of likes and dislikes.

And I donít think acknowledging that difference necessarily makes one an elitist any more than liking Buffy The Vampire Slayer makes one shallow.

Birol
09-07-2007, 01:37 AM
I do think sometimes there tends to be a slight anti-intellectual bent on AW, however. I've been accused on other threads of being an elitist snob because I believe there is a qualitative difference between literary books and genre books, as well as between serious music and pop music.

What types of qualitative differences do you see between the two? Can you explain further, please?

Bubastes
09-07-2007, 01:42 AM
What types of qualitative differences do you see between the two? Can you explain further, please?

I'm not rugcat, but for me I find that literary work (and serious music, for that matter) lingers with me. I can revisit them and find something new each time. I can enjoy them repeatedly with no diminishment in enjoyment. For more commercial stuff, I read/listen to it a few times and then forget about it (or, in the case of music, change the station).

I suppose it's like the time filter for classical music and classic works. The ones with underlying quality withstand time. It's an imprecise categorization, but that's how I think about it.

maestrowork
09-07-2007, 01:46 AM
What types of qualitative differences do you see between the two? Can you explain further, please?

I'm not sure if it's "qualitative" but for me, some books have more layers, more symbolistic significance and relevance and universality, and subtexts that make the work much richer and intellectually more satisfying than others. Some books are so rich textually that you get enjoyment simply by reading the words alone, like the exquisite burst of flavors in fine food. It's not to say they're definitely better than other books, but they're certainly different. Books such as Lord of the Flies, or Animal Farm or 1984, for example, as compared to the Da Vinci Code. They're all very entertaining and people love them, but they're different.

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-07-2007, 02:09 AM
When an individual fails to comprehend the . . . .

Perhaps I should endeavor to expand on my logic? Sheesh, this really is an internet forum.

And it's not that you wouldn't get it because you're incapable of comprehending the words I say, it's because you're intellectually dishonest, and can't see past your own bias. Also, you seem to be prone to going on huge tangents over little nitpicks, like honing in on "picking up my garbage" when the whole point was the focus on laziness. Maybe I could get the point across to you if I wanted to spend time plotting a response to you like I would a novel, picking out every single word to trot carefully and not choose any words that would set you off on yet another crazy lecture, but ultimately this is an internet forum, and I have neither the time nor the patience to be that meticulous over trying to sway one person -- especially when they've proven that's going to be impossible.


Perhaps your the dissatisfaction you are expressing is a result of your failure to sway individuals to your way of thinking or perhaps aforementioned dissatisfaction is a result of your inability to make them emotionally and intellectually inferior to you as an individual as a result of the viewpoints you have expressed?

I think you meant "you're." A typo? Sure. But if you're going to go out of your way to talk down to me like you're sitting in a big leather chair by a fireplace wearing a Hugh Hefner lounging robe typing this out over a jar of grey poupon, you ought to get it right. Especially when you're lecturing me about perfect communication skills.


What I am saying is that you can't judge the entire series based on the first book which is basically just a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg when the deep stuff only really comes out later. Also, not liking something is clearly something else than writing crap.

Fair enough, on both accounts. But I did admit that I was considering reading the fifth book to see if things have improved any.

Also, I don't hate the Shining, it was just an example, which hopefully you all knew. I see what you're saying about them not being in the same series, and I knew that and understood that ahead of time. I was exaggerating it and taking it to the next level, which I thought I made clear by saying "Next."

Anyway....



For everyone who hates Samuel L. Jackson, there's someone who loves him.

Entirely not the point. I was giving an example to the fact that readers, just like any other types of people, can be complete idiots. People were judging me for judging some mainstream readers as shallow and stupid, I was backing it up.


The idea, though, is that you shouldn't say "I can't see why they sell so many books because they write crap." You may not like it or buy it -- it's your choice and right as a consumer.

Err... did I say that? I don't remember expressing confusion as to why crappy books sell well. Just the opposite, I thought I said the exact opposite, and I even gave an explanation for why that was.


But it's not for anyone, especially another writer, to diss them by saying they don't deserve to be successful.

Did I say that? Because I don't think I said they don't deserve to be successful. I think I just said they write shallow, crappy books. I don't even know who "they" are right now. I'll assume we're talking about Terry Goodkind, as he's the first person I think of when I think of crappy mainstream writer.


I'm not going to even get into your McDonalds nonsense because you warped my metaphor and example to such impressive distortions that the Gods are envious.



That's your choice. If people want to write books that entertain, so what? Besides, I think it's very presumptuous for anyone to say they're going to write the smartest book. What's smart to YOU may be rather "not very deep" to others. So if someone considers your book "not as deep" as they would like, are you wrong? Are they wrong?

I didn't say I was going to write the smartest book. FFS. I said I was going to write the smartest book I'm capable of.

Depth isn't really that subjective as you're making it sound like. There are some people who think that really deep books are shallow and 2-dimensional. Those people are idiots. I've heard somebody claim that the movie Ghost Rider was extremely deep and intelligent. That person is wrong. It's not quite that simple, but that's the gist of it.




You'll notice I'm not making any judgments about the entertainment value of things. It's because these things are subjective. Quality writing is mostly subjective, but isn't entirely. Depth and intelligence is barely subjective at all. It's a bit difficult to quantify sometimes, I suppose, but that's not the same thing.



And I donít think acknowledging that difference necessarily makes one an elitist any more than liking Buffy The Vampire Slayer makes one shallow.

::SPAZ:: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite possibly the best television show ever made. It's not just oozing with depth, but it's also got some of the smartest and creative writing ever in a TV show. It's also got more integrity than any TV show in the last ten years, possibly ever.

Anyone who thinks Buffy is shallow is going to have to answer to me. :D



The last two posts here seem to basically be doing the work for me, which sort of makes me think that it's more how you say things than what you say around here, since both people were disagreeing with me before.

Birol
09-07-2007, 02:12 AM
I think you meant "you're." A typo? Sure. But if you're going to go out of your way to talk down to me like you're sitting in a big leather chair by a fireplace wearing a Hugh Hefner lounging robe typing this out over a jar of grey poupon, you ought to get it right. Especially when you're lecturing me about perfect communication skills.

I wasn't lecturing you on perfect communication skills, nor have I ever claimed perfection. I believe you may have missed my point.


The last two posts here seem to basically be doing the work for me, which sort of makes me think that it's more how you say things than what you say around here, since both people were disagreeing with me before.

Gee. Who would've thunk that communication isn't just about what is said but also how it's said.

rugcat
09-07-2007, 02:29 AM
What types of qualitative differences do you see between the two? Can you explain further, please?

A serious answer would take a huge essay, not a post, and would involve greater writing skill than I possess and a deeper intellectual ability. And nobody would want to read it.

But briefly, I would say that true art tends to be multi-layered and address universal themes of human experience. Or at least it tries; not everything succeeds. And for me, a great and serious book transcends story lines and somehow, as if by magic, produce an effect greater than the sum of its parts.

Pop fiction is mostly about telling a great story, without exploring those themes. Who is the murderer? Will they get away with it? Will Mary Sue find true love? Will the evil lord triumph? A good writer can use these stories to illuminate a lot about the human condition Ė but thatís not the raison díetre for the book.

My genre is urban fantasy. Serious works may have fantastical elements -- but they are the engine that drives the story, the vehicle through which themes of friendship, love, loss, death, and mankindís place in the world can be explored. In pop or urban fantasy, those fantastical elements are the core of the book in and of themselves.

Which is why The Wizard of Earthsea is a serious book and Jim Butcherís Dresden files are not Ė much as I like his books.

I believe Conradís Heart Of Darkness, for example, is a work of absolute genius. But exactly what it means or why it is so powerful or how it produces itís impact is beyond me Ė unknowable, which I think all great art is.

And thatís where the elitist charge has some merit. When I hear someone seriously arguing that War And Peace is boring, and that a rousing adventure story like Xena the Warrior Princess is far superior, I donít think itís just a matter of taste. I believe that person is missing something, unable to comprehend things beyond a simplistic level. I can accept someone not liking W&P, itís not to everyoneís taste. But I think thatís a different thing.

Not that I didnít like Xena.

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-07-2007, 02:32 AM
Gee. Who would've thunk that communication isn't just about what is said but also how it's said.

:rolleyes:

Dave.C.Robinson
09-07-2007, 03:02 AM
I haven't read War and Peace, so I can't really comment on it. One thing I have noticed is that proponents of serious literature often dismiss genre or popular fiction because it depends more on story than on theme.

Yes some people do find theme based fiction boring in comparison to story based fiction. It's possible that the people who find serious fiction more interesting may simply be unable to comprehend the different depths of story-based and genre fiction. There are tons of genre novels I've read repeatedly, and some which would be classed as serious. All that matters is which aspects of the craft appeal most to each reader.

maestrowork
09-07-2007, 03:06 AM
Medievalist is going to come in here and whop everyone: All fiction are essentially genre fiction anyway.

:)

lfraser
09-07-2007, 04:22 AM
[QUOTE]
Did I say that? Because I don't think I said they don't deserve to be successful. I think I just said they write shallow, crappy books. I don't even know who "they" are right now. I'll assume we're talking about Terry Goodkind, as he's the first person I think of when I think of crappy mainstream writer.

Dissing a writer on a writer's forum is quite possibly the stupidest thing you can do. You think Terry Goodkind writes crappy books? Fine, that's your opnion and you're entitled to it. But you came here to interact with writers, and gosh-golly, there are some here, and some of them are (gasp) even published, and you know what? They might actually even know Terry Goodkind. Or...maybe, just maybe, someone you're mouthing off about even hangs out here sometimes. And someday you might meet someone who could just conceivably help you along in your writing career, only you've gone and shot your mouth off here, and they remember it...

Good move.

And good luck.

Birol
09-07-2007, 07:47 AM
A serious answer would take a huge essay, not a post, and would involve greater writing skill than I possess and a deeper intellectual ability. And nobody would want to read it.

But briefly, I would say that true art tends to be multi-layered and address universal themes of human experience. Or at least it tries; not everything succeeds. And for me, a great and serious book transcends story lines and somehow, as if by magic, produce an effect greater than the sum of its parts.

Pop fiction is mostly about telling a great story, without exploring those themes. Who is the murderer? Will they get away with it? Will Mary Sue find true love? Will the evil lord triumph? A good writer can use these stories to illuminate a lot about the human condition Ė but thatís not the raison díetre for the book.

My genre is urban fantasy. Serious works may have fantastical elements -- but they are the engine that drives the story, the vehicle through which themes of friendship, love, loss, death, and mankindís place in the world can be explored. In pop or urban fantasy, those fantastical elements are the core of the book in and of themselves.

Which is why The Wizard of Earthsea is a serious book and Jim Butcherís Dresden files are not Ė much as I like his books.

I believe Conradís Heart Of Darkness, for example, is a work of absolute genius. But exactly what it means or why it is so powerful or how it produces itís impact is beyond me Ė unknowable, which I think all great art is.

And thatís where the elitist charge has some merit. When I hear someone seriously arguing that War And Peace is boring, and that a rousing adventure story like Xena the Warrior Princess is far superior, I donít think itís just a matter of taste. I believe that person is missing something, unable to comprehend things beyond a simplistic level. I can accept someone not liking W&P, itís not to everyoneís taste. But I think thatís a different thing.

Not that I didnít like Xena.

Rugcat, I've been thinking about your response this evening. I've realized from a certain perspective, you're right. It's not that pop fiction is crap and that what, for the sake of this discussion, we'll term literary fiction is excellent, and it's not that one has merit and the other doesn't, but from the perspective you're talking about, they are two different things in terms of purpose and content.

To continue the food example that has been going on throughout this thread, think of it in terms of a beef steak, like a prime rib or tenderloin, and a hamburger. Both can come from the same cow and both have their merits, but generally speaking, steak is considered to be a different level or different type of meal than hamburger is. They are two different categories of dining. What we are calling pop fiction and literary fiction are two different categories of reading.

Taking the analogy further, you can't really substitute steak for hamburger or hamburger for steak. Sometimes, you just want a big ol' juicy burger with a side of fries. Other times, a nicely cooked steak with a side salad and a baked potato is just the thing. One, you can even eat on the go; the other, not so much.

maestrowork
09-07-2007, 08:14 AM
And some will say the steak is a "better" meat than the burger. Well, to the person who's eating it, it doesn't matter -- all it matters is "Does it hit the spot? Does it fulfill the need? Does it satisfy?" Sometimes I get tired of burgers or steak, and sometimes I crave either one or both. I'm still the same person.

And to a vegetarian, it's all bad and disgusting.

Koobie
09-07-2007, 09:35 AM
It's sheep like them that allow wolves like me to live truly free and lead the life I want.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v215/garosaon/megahurr.gif

akiwiguy
09-07-2007, 10:01 AM
[quote=Shane Fitzsimmons;1611874]



Dissing a writer on a writer's forum is quite possibly the stupidest thing you can do. You think Terry Goodkind writes crappy books? Fine, that's your opnion and you're entitled to it. But you came here to interact with writers, and gosh-golly, there are some here, and some of them are (gasp) even published, and you know what? They might actually even know Terry Goodkind. Or...maybe, just maybe, someone you're mouthing off about even hangs out here sometimes. And someday you might meet someone who could just conceivably help you along in your writing career, only you've gone and shot your mouth off here, and they remember it...

Good move.

And good luck.

Really well said.

I don't think writers should really diss any writer, but there are two types that I particularly shouldn't.. rich ones (from writing in popular genres), or those critically aclaimed by their peers by way of serious awards. It's fine to dissect and critically analyse their work, but the fact is that irrespective of what we think both have achieved something worthy of respect.

To me it's just comical to see (and I haven't read this thread fully, but in general) say a woman who has become one of the richest in the world by her endeavours being rubbished. Imagine how stupid you'd look if you had to front up to her personally and do it in front of an audience. One would come away looking a total tosser.

And even more bizarre (again, not necessarily this thread) is when I see Nobel Prize winners being savaged by relative novices. Apart from anything else, the idiocy of it is that the quickest way to learn how to do something is study how others have already achieved it. If someone's style or whatever is not really our thing then fine, but come on... if I was so stupid as to stand there and rubbish them there's definitely only going to be one loser in the frame.

Lauri B
09-07-2007, 05:56 PM
Two questions:
Have any of you seen Whit Mitchell's "Metropolitan" where the guy talks all about how bad Jane Austen's books are, and then admits he's never read them but has read the literary criticism of them so he knows how bad they are? Parts of this conversation remind me of that movie.

Shane, what is your favorite book? Or what are some books that you really like?

Shane Fitzsimmons
09-07-2007, 07:47 PM
I haven't read War and Peace, so I can't really comment on it. One thing I have noticed is that proponents of serious literature often dismiss genre or popular fiction because it depends more on story than on theme.

I'd have to agree with this, and I think the whole concept of "serious" literature is pretty ludicrous. There are a plethora of Science Fiction/Fantasy writers for instance, who are extremely talented and write some ridiculously good books that probably would be dismissed by litfic critiques because it's fantasy. It's such a ridiculous bias.


Dissing a writer on a writer's forum is quite possibly the stupidest thing you can do. You think Terry Goodkind writes crappy books? Fine, that's your opnion and you're entitled to it. But you came here to interact with writers, and gosh-golly, there are some here, and some of them are (gasp) even published, and you know what? They might actually even know Terry Goodkind. Or...maybe, just maybe, someone you're mouthing off about even hangs out here sometimes. And someday you might meet someone who could just conceivably help you along in your writing career, only you've gone and shot your mouth off here, and they remember it...

Anybody I'm "mouthing off" to has the right to bitchslap me for it, if they're capable of it. I'm an equal opportunity piss-er off-er. And anyone who's going to hold a grudge because a guy gave valid explanations for why he thought something was stupid but was more than willing to listen to the other side isn't somebody I want help from. If I want lessons on how to be a whiny child I'll go to them for help, but for now all I want is intelligent conversation by people capable of standing up for their opinions without bellyaching about it.

This whole mindset that nothing is stupid because everything's subjective is dumb. Sure, subjective gives a certain level of leeway for opinions, but there's still such thing as stupid opinions, stupid movies, bad books, crappy writing, simplistic moral values, whatever you want. The world is more complicated and less subjective than most of you seem to realize.


To continue the food example that has been going on throughout this thread, think of it in terms of a beef steak, like a prime rib or tenderloin, and a hamburger. Both can come from the same cow and both have their merits, but generally speaking, steak is considered to be a different level or different type of meal than hamburger is. They are two different categories of dining. What we are calling pop fiction and literary fiction are two different categories of reading.

I think that's fairly accurate. Generally when I talk about good writing vs. bad writing I'm not talking about litfic vs. genre fiction. These books that are considered "literary fiction" almost always bore me to death. I'm a big science fiction/fantasy reader, but I don't look at any specific genre as inferior to another, even sub-genre's within fantasy, for instance. For instance, take heroic fantasy, I find Terry Goodkind to be incredibly morally simplistic, and hell, just simple-minded in general. I find his characters to be unrealistic, often two-dimensional even when they're fleshed out, and I find his whole approach to the idea of the hero to be way too black and white to be taken seriously.

By comparison, I look at Matthew Woodring Stover, or China Mieville, or even Scott Lynch to be able to tell really spectacular stories with really in-depth, fleshed out characters who feel real. And in Matthew Stover's case, I even find his work to approach a lot of extremely thoughtful themes, but nothing he writes embodies that whole simplistic Black and White, Dungeons and Dragons-esque theme, despite the fact that his books do have magick and elves and swords in them. Hell, he basically writes Heroic Fantasy, but it's just on a whole other level than Goodkind.

I find it really difficult to judge any sort of fiction by its genre, because it's really not about the story you're telling, it's about how you tell it. It's like they say, there's no new ideas.


Taking the analogy further, you can't really substitute steak for hamburger or hamburger for steak. Sometimes, you just want a big ol' juicy burger with a side of fries. Other times, a nicely cooked steak with a side salad and a baked potato is just the thing. One, you can even eat on the go; the other, not so much.

The difference though, being that the steak is ultimately probably better for you. It's cooked in a different way, it's not going to be as processed or greasy. Maybe the burger tastes good still, and it still hits the spot, but there's just really no arguing that there's just more nutrients in the steak you get from a fancy, organic restaurant than there is from the burger you purchased from McDonalds.

Also, if you were to eat dirt, or somebody else's snot, that'd get looked down upon. Well, to a certain perspective, eating McDonalds is as bad as eating snot. There's something to be said for somebody who can only bring themselves to eat organic vegitables and swordfish steaks, 100% juice and things of that nature. Trying to turn that sort of lifestyle into a negative is the result of an inferior complex. It's trying to pick holes in things that are obviously superior. Sure, sometimes a glass of processed, vitamin-D milk hits the spot to certain people. To me, I know that there's about 2% pus in milk that isn't organic, so I think it's disgusting. Trying to put a negative spin on somebody for doing the right thing is ridiculous.

Is it wrong to eat McDonalds? Well, it's not killing puppies or raping children, but the food is processed crap. You have to wonder about somebody who's satisfied with eating filthy garbage.



I don't think writers should really diss any writer

It's nonsense like this that reminds me of people calling the Dixie Chicks evil and trying to get people to burn their records just because they dissed President Bush. One of my favorite quotes from the documentary they did called "Shut Up and Sing" was when some hick said something along the lines of "You have freedom of speech but you shouldn't use it in public, and by god you shouldn't use it in other countries!"

Nonsense.


but there are two types that I particularly shouldn't.. rich ones (from writing in popular genres), or those critically aclaimed by their peers by way of serious awards.

This also is a personal philosophy that success equates to quality, or more specifically, Whoever Makes More Money is More Right. This isn't a philosophy I subscribe to, because it's the stupidest f*cking thing I've ever heard in my life. Britney Spears, anyone? What about Paris Hilton getting work as an actress? Or, hey, even without the actress thing, do I not have a right to criticise her because she's rich? She didn't earn it, so why does it matter?

How extreme do you want to take this nonsense?


To me it's just comical to see (and I haven't read this thread fully, but in general) say a woman who has become one of the richest in the world by her endeavours being rubbished.

If we're talking about Rowling, I personally think every writer on the planet should personally bow down and kiss her feet. She's making it cool to read again. That's awesome, to me. She's also getting kids to read, which is also great. Like I said, when they get older, they're going to be reading things I write.


If someone's style or whatever is not really our thing then fine, but come on... if I was so stupid as to stand there and rubbish them there's definitely only going to be one loser in the frame.

This essentially equates to the high school philosophy that popularity determines right and wrong, good and bad, it determines worth. I'm sorry, but it doesn't. If I were to stand up in a crowd of Terry Goodkind fans and say that Terry Goodkind is an idiot, sure, I'll have a couple hundred thousand people telling me that no, I'm the idiot. Doesn't mean they're right. Just means they've been indoctrinated.


Shane, what is your favorite book? Or what are some books that you really like?

My favorite two books are Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle, by Matthew Woodring Stover. Pretty much everything Stover has written beyond his first two books are great, and he's done several Star Wars tie-ins that are awesome (including the Episode III novelization), but the real golden gems are HD and BoT.


Have any of you seen Whit Mitchell's "Metropolitan" where the guy talks all about how bad Jane Austen's books are, and then admits he's never read them but has read the literary criticism of them so he knows how bad they are? Parts of this conversation remind me of that movie.

I haven't seen that, but I know what you're talking about. I think the key differences between what I'm doing, and what that's doing, is that I'm not just speaking out of ignorance, but I'm also smart enough to not have to read every single thing by an author to know if they're a good writer or not.

I've already admitted to thinking about giving Rowling another chance, trying to read Harry Potter 5 to see if she's improved at all. Terry Goodkind I know is an idiot not just because I've read some of his books, but also because I've heard him talk in interviews, and not only is he the most pompous, self-involved successful writer I've ever heard of in an interview, but he's also the most simple-minded and dense, biasedly-judgmental sonofagun I've ever heard too. And it's like I've said before, how many pounds of cow turds do you have to eat before you know they taste like shit?

And yeah, I realize that people are going to be tempted to quote my whole "pompous, self-involved" thing and try to turn it against me. Do it seriously if you're going to, not because you think you're clever.

Lauri B
09-07-2007, 08:42 PM
I don't know Matthew Woodring Stover's work, but I'm definitely willing to give it a try. We writers all feel so strongly about what we think is good or bad literature, that I really want to read a book that you feel so strongly about, Shane. I think it'll be fun--science fiction is totally and completely out of my normal reading. In fact, I think the only science fiction I've ever read is an Isaac Asimov short story. So I'm going to read Heroes Die.
Anyone else up for switching up their normal genres?

mscelina
09-07-2007, 08:43 PM
my goodness. We are full of ourselves, aren't we?

It is very, very easy to be an armchair quarterback. I read multiple genres and numerous authors. I don't like all of them--not by a long shot!--but I don't condemn them for some ridiculous standard I set and then cannot meet myself.

The fact of the matter is that ALL of these writers accomplished something that many have not--THEY WERE PUBLISHED. Somewhere, an agent believed in their work enough to present it to a publisher, who believed in their work enough to buy it, print it, and submit to the general public for their perusal--and the public, stupid overworked lazy asses that you claim they are BOUGHT IT AND LOVED IT. Who are we to argue with the tastes and opinions of the reading public en masse? They are, after all, the same people that we hope will buy and read OUR work. Just because YOU don't like their work, or I don't like their work, or some critic didn't like their work is NO reason to bash them. Terry Goodkind is an idiot? Perhaps he is. I don't know. I don't care for his work at all--per my personal tastes. But, for me to sit in my office and condemn him as ... and I quote:


not only is he the most pompous, self-involved successful writer I've ever heard of in an interview, but he's also the most simple-minded and dense, biasedly-judgmental sonofagun I've ever heard too. And it's like I've said before, how many pounds of cow turds do you have to eat before you know they taste like shit?

would be ridiculous in the extreme.

If you don't like a writer's work, fine. If you have significant literary issues with their style or technique, fine. Then you should take those opinions and the energy you funnel into them, study said writers and their paths and LEARN from it. All you're doing with these diatribes is digging yourself into a hole. Why not use the 'passion' you have to WRITE something better? Prove your point through action, not this endless repetition of bashing those who have proved their ability to accomplish something that you, at this point only aspire to.

You're wasting energy and time. Get on with it, man.

EriRae
09-07-2007, 08:49 PM
SHANE--Who dissed Terry Goodkind? Where's your evidence, backing you up?

If it's me, you're wrong. Terry Goodkind is one of my myspace friends, for a very good reason. I LOVE THE SWORD OF TRUTH SERIES. I also love Darken Rahl. So I posted a fanclub for him. If you think that's dissing Goodkind, you are sadly mistaken and misread the thread. We don't go around dissing authors here, but their published works are open for discussion. There are some characters I don't like, and there are some plot devices that don't work for me. Nobody's perfect, no work of fiction is beyond reproach. Not even *gasp* yours. Have you posted anything in SYW yet?

I really hope you're using your real name. There are plenty of agents who are going to hear you coming...and who will run the other way.

Birol
09-07-2007, 09:14 PM
Please note, I am watching the discussion in this thread. If the respect your fellow writer rule cannot be followed, the disrespectful posts will be moved to a separate thread. That thread will then be closed and moved to TIO.

I advise anyone and everyone to think twice about what they're typing and to step away from the keyboard if emotion and passion is overriding common courtesy.

Dave.C.Robinson
09-07-2007, 10:00 PM
Let's get the bad news out in the open. I don't like Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth books. I enjoyed Wizard's First Rule, but as the series went on I found I was getting less and less from the books and decided they were a poor use of my entertainment dollar. I voted with my wallet. As to anything about him as a person; I have no opinion. I haven't met the man and so will not comment. Should I meet him, I'll form my own opinion.

As a writer, all I can say is that he wrote one book I really enjoyed, and has written an number of other books that many people have enjoyed. That's evidence that says he's at the very least a pretty good writer. How good, I couldn't tell you. But by the standards of the book-buying public he's a good writer.

Before we go further, it's important to note that the number one reason for buying a book is because you liked something else by the same person. So Terry Goodkind wrote Wizard's First Rule, which was published by Tor and bought, read and enjoyed by a number of people. On the strength of that book he sold a sequel, which people bought read and enjoyed. He has continued to do so.

One thing that has to be understood is that selling a first book is fundamentally different from selling a later one. It's got to be really good because you have no sales history for the publisher to draw on. That being the case, the publisher wants to stack the deck as best they can, by holding first novels to a very high standard of craft. They have to. Remember, the first book doesn't have the benefit all later ones do. The reading public hasn't already read and enjoyed one of your books.

Jamesaritchie
09-08-2007, 02:28 AM
First book or twentieth book, every last writer I've ever known writes the best book he can possibly write, and first novels are almost never the best novels. They may be ones individuals like the most, but they are seldom tech ones the majority likes the most.

And publishers apply the same standards to every book, first, fifth, or seventy-eighth. . .will the reading public buy this book?

It's a serious mistake to think editors let most pro writers slide, and an even more serious mistake to think pro writers would take the slide, even if offered.

"Once you're famous, you can publish anything" is always an amateur notion, and not one pro writers or publisher adhere to. Pro writers try their demandest to make each novel better than the one before, and pro editors do their damndest to help them achieve this.

Far more often than not, when readers think a pro writer has lost it, they're wrong. That writer has simply left that particular readership behind, and has moved on to a new group of readers.

CoriSCapnSkip
09-08-2007, 10:52 AM
I wouldn't consider myself intimately familiar with it. I've read the first book, which should be enough. I've contemplated going on to reading the fifth book to see if she's improved at all, as I've heard she has.

The fifth Harry Potter book isn't the best. Too much information which is necessary for the story but doesn't make the most enthralling reading.