Friday, December 30, 2011

Bad Writing of Best-Sellers

As a writer, I check out the work of other writers. Lets me see how they write, their technique, and shows me what's popular in the field. With "best-selling" mysteries and thrillers, they're all too often disappointing, at best, and downright contemptible and ludicrous at worst. Have just found another example of the latter.

Now this guy sells millions of books, has rabid fans, and his name is spoken with reverent awe. He's the powerhouse of e-publishing and print. But his book is stupid-- insultingly stupid-- a reeking dungheap of ridiculous plot. The writing is good, the characters are developed, but the plot is so laughably bad. At least it would be laughable, if people weren't supporting this clown by buying his work.

"But he's popular, so he must be good," will be the response from the Booboisie. Well, no. Fast food is popular, but it's not good. And this guy makes it worse. He takes a fast food burger, slaps horse poop and ground glass on it, and shovels it up to the masses. And they eat this crap sandwich, and smile and say it's wonderful. Gah!

I'm in the Tyngsboro Writer's Group, and none of us are critics for the New York Review of Books, but we can spot a stinker. Any time writing doesn't pass muster, they let you know. I know, I've tried it before, and it just doesn’t fly. This guy's plot would have been shot down by everyone as too stupid for belief, and would have never made it out. You can let all the hot air out of this Bad Plot Balloon with one phone call, one person acting reasonably, or anyone doing what they'd do in Real Life.

We'd have told this writer not to insult the reader. He MUST like to insult his readers, he's got to have contempt for his audience. There's no other way to explain it. Me, I wouldn't have the money he's making for producing this bilge. If my name was on a piece of crap this bad, I'd take the Hemingway route with a shotgun. And I mean it. This kind of junk is really offensive.

There's absurdity and coincidence piled upon unbelievability and bullshit. The characters are simply marionettes, who do the writer's bidding, but do things that would not be done by anybody outside a Hollywood coke-fantasy film. And they do them at just the right time to creakily move the dumbass plot to the next Big Point. You know a book is bad when you keep rolling your eyes and saying "Oh, Pul-eeze!"

The plot setup is so ridiculous, it's akin to having a switch that will destroy an entire town, and where the authorities know that a guy is going to come in and throw the switch to slaughter everyone. All they need to do is lock the door. But they can’t, because the writer has put up a big sign saying "This door cannot be locked, or I won’t have a crap book to shove out!" Yeah, that simple, that mind-numbingly dumb.

If this was just one awful example of what's popular, it might not be so bad, But I've seen too many others like it, and I've had it. I strive to create good, believable plots with decent writing, and I screen the work with early readers and tough critique. This book has all the earmarks of a Hollywood pitch session, where everyone was on drugs.

Why does this bother me so much? Because I write with aspirations of craftsmanship, and don’t look down on my audience, but carefully build characters and situations that they can believe in. The good writers do this. The bad ones churn out senseless junk for mass consumption that cheapens all other books. He oughtta be ashamed.

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