Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why Is It Important?

First off, I'd like to thank Donald Maass for asking this question recently at the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction Writing Conference. Second off, here we go ...

You've just finished your latest novel when your hard drive crashes. Oddly, the back-up's failed as well. A fire consumes the only printed version you had. Your critique partners threw their copies out and, sadly, your mother never read it. In other words, your new masterpiece is completely gone. But wait, your one friend has the only remaining copy. They'll give it to you so long as you answer this question:

Why is this novel important? Why does it matter?

So what's your answer? I'll tell you mine in a little while.

Happy Writin's!
Gary . . .

Monday, June 4, 2012

Content Trunps Quality?

We hear about writers who've self-published who are offered huge publishing contracts. I won't mention names; you either know who they are or you don't. Their books are selling by the truckload, making the authors thousands of dollars. Their advances are for multi-book contracts. They have made it. Yet their writing, their craft has not.

Their books, many have said, are poorly written. Be it plot, dialog, characterization, grammar or punctuation. These people seemingly have not taken the time to learn their craft. However, all that doesn't seem to matter if the content is interesting enough. Not only will people overlook bad writing, they'll even say the book's well written. I've read bits of some of these books and the writing is simply amateurish at best. And yet the content is so compelling (to a LOT of people, though not everyone) that readers will forgive the author.

But what of all those teachers that told their students to spend years honing their craft and always strive to get better? Is that lesson relevant any more?

Why should it be acceptable that YA fantasy is written poorly? We should be offering those readers a better written book so they understand what good writing is. We shouldn't accept adult books written at a 5th grade reading level. Or, if the story is that darned good, should we simply forgive the writer?

I want to be a better writer. I want to write compelling stories, but not at the expense of craft. Personally, I don't want to put an inferior product out there. Readers expect more and they deserve better and they won't come back to an author if a book is that bad. At least they shouldn't.

So all this begs the question: Does quality really matter any more when it comes to selling ebooks? What do you think?