I am re-running this post as a public service.
It’s not everyone who can produce a really rotten novel. Indeed, it’s a gift. But if you’re shooting for sheer unreadability, these few pointers will surely get you started. And it’s no use complaining that certain individuals have gotten rich and famous by writing pure dreck.
Now I wonder–who could we say is (or was) the Cervantes of the truly rotten novel? Any suggestions?
Note the black belt. That’s one deadly nine-year-old.
Wanna buy some prime Florida swampland?
Having read and reviewed so many of them, I now know how to write a Young Adults best-seller. But what excuse could I ever have to write stuff like this?
Lots and lots of power over other people isn’t good for anyone, regardless of age. Offering it to children is just plain crazy.
But I also monitor the news. And correct me if I’m wrong–but aren’t there suddenly a lot of supposed adults out there taking their marching orders from children?
It can’t possibly turn out well for us.
One of the worst books I’ve ever tried to read. But I wasn’t getting paid to read it, so I stopped.
In writing dialogue, especially in a fantasy or a historical novel, there has to be a happy medium between “I feel ya, dude” and “Yea, forsooth, thou barkest up ye wrong tree.” That happy medium is plain English.
Yes, I know–tons of books have been published in which plain English is simply not to be found. Some of them have even been best-sellers. But that doesn’t make them any less abominable.
Someday our age will be called to account for Robert Ludlum and Jean Auel; and it won’t be pretty.
Maybe it’s old-fashioned to insist on certain standards in the art of fiction. But what happens when you chuck those standards out the window–ugh!
No one who has ever tried to write for publication has been able to avoid being mystified by the abundance of really awful stuff out there. This will continue to mystify us till the end of time.
But then we wouldn’t know what literary crimes are, if they didn’t get published so often.
The only thing I haven’t seen is a good writer purposely trying to write dreck, thinking poor quality is the key to achieving publication.
So we’re watching this TV show last night, Primeval, and these two paleontologists, guys who dig up and study fossils, suddenly grab a pair of motorbikes and dart all around the parking garage, chasing and being chased by raptors. They just know how to maneuver a motorbike at high speed among parked cars. In fact, they just know how to do wheelies. Both of them know these things. Instinctively. Up until that point in the series, we never saw hide nor hair of motorbikes. And now they’re doin’ wheelies. It’s very effective against raging dinosaurs.
How many times have we seen this in movies and TV shows? Some wispy little Barbie snatches up a .50-caliber machine gun and mows down the zombies. Joe Hero jumps into an unguarded helicopter and just takes off. Heavy machinery, high technology, advanced weapons systems–it’s all the same. Whatever special ability is suddenly called for in the script, the character in that scene has it. No one ever just doesn’t know what to do! “Old man Can’t is dead!”
Pity me. If I were being chased by Velociraptors, you could have 50 motorbikes parked in a row and I wouldn’t know how even to get one started, let alone zoom around like Steve McQueen, doin’ wheelies. First I would have to be taught. Then I’d have to practice. No time for that in a movie!
I consider this a literary crime, and pledge myself to try as hard as I can to avoid committing it in any of my novels. Your money back if I can’t do it!
Sorta like this King Tut cell phone…
Can a novel set in ancient times–antediluvian times, in fact–be ruined by having its characters frequently spout 21st-century Democrat cliches?
Uh… yeah. Even if it’s only me that thinks so.
I keep saying “Christian fiction” has to be at least as good as, and preferably better than, ordinary secular fiction. But I read so much “Christian” stuff that isn’t, I’m beginning to think no one believes me.
Actually, in the three years since I posted this, it has become more difficult to tell which books have been written by space aliens instead of human beings. But the examples provided still hold true.
Thing is, more and more people nowadays behave like space aliens! I mean, would genuine earth people sit together around a table, on the sidewalk outside the pizza parlor, and instead of talking with each other, just sit there transfixed by some electronic doodad? (Please say I’m right.)
If I actually read all the books I am invited to review, my brain would turn into foam and come out of my ears. Like, for instance:
Who decided “changing our genders” would be a good thing? Who decided that we needed that in our culture? Who decided God’s created order wasn’t good enough?
I can’t think of anything more terrifying that a utopia created by sinners.
Thy will be done, O Lord our God.
It’s sort of a pet peeve of mine, the business of pumping up an inferior product by calling it “Christian” and trying to make Christians feel guilty for not buying it. We see this a lot in publishing and “entertainment.”
It’s not that secular novels, movies, and TV scripts set impossibly high artistic standards that Christians can never hope to equal. Overall, those standards ought to be fairly easy to beat. Christian artists must try harder.
Because, after all, we have to answer to a higher authority.
This is the illiterate feminist knock-off of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael mysteries. If you were creating a dictionary of literary errors and prat falls, it would very closely resemble this disaster, St. Brigid’s Bones.
Why does anybody write a book like this? Well, ignorance would explain that.
But why would anybody ever publish it? You’ve got me there!