The State of "Best-Selling" Books Today
So it seems that today I've been shrouded with talk about 50 Shades of Grey on Tumblr mostly. Fellow users quote passages from the book, itself, that are so ridiculously...ridiculous, I find it amazing that the book could have gotten the following it did. Mostly all the users who reblog these excerpts, merely laugh at them and it seems much of the internet laughs at their parents for buying the book and at the book(s) itself/themselves.
Which brings me to a point.
When Twilight came out, I had no idea. I'd picked up New Moon, terribly unsuspecting of what I was getting into - and boy did I wish I knew before I read that book cover to cover thinking it a mere standalone (for they don't tell you that it's a sequel like they should. Hmmm.) and I paid the price. I swear I lost brain cells forcing myself to read it, hoping beyond hope that it'd get better but it continued to get WORSE. And to see that 50 Shades was first a fan fiction off Twilight?
Cringing at this point, I was curious to see what all the hype was about so I found a free sample online and read about three or so pages I believe.
It...is practically Twilight...just some of the circumstances have changed, but in all honesty - it's the same damn book - just different character names.
I was appalled.
Looking over my own book, I breathe a sigh of relief. For all the nuisances I thought were being surveyed by all, and all the errors of spelling and grammar and such, I didn't do so bad - I mean at least there's an essence of a greater story in it (one would hope) that will be expertly expanded upon in the coming books (I have notebooks, papers, and computer files filled to the brim with story plots, outlines, characters, what-could-bes, and what-should-happens). This is a serious, all or nothing project for me, and I as a writer cannot allow the story I have created (however it started) to end cheaply or without a bang. If anything, the very last book, that last chapter, should be the crescendo I've been imagining in my mind for all these years to be.
I know my fans wouldn't appreciate it if it wasn't, and I wouldn't appreciate it if it wasn't. For as a fellow reader, I gotta say, we as writers have to know HOW to write a story, HOW to TELL a story, and to make our characters BREATHE life, (if they're not Vampires, that is), not just pout and brood and bite their lips, and cringe and moan and sigh for 400+ pages.
I feel disgusted and appalled (not at the content of 50 Shades, no, by all means BDSM is anyone's personal choice), at the sheer lack of EFFORT put into writing. I know not everyone's going to be a Hemmingway, or a Poe, or a Rowling, but HONESTLY. If you're going to write a book for fun, please, please don't try to get it published unless you understand the ramifications of publishing - your book is going to be seen - one must ask themselves:
Is this the book I want the world to recognize me for? Is this the book people all over the world are going to know me by and am I okay with that?
If it is NOT and you are not comfortable with that - if you're not confident in your writing or whatever, take whatever time is necessary to GET USED TO YOURSELF WRITING. Learn about your characters, their faults, their flaws. Flesh out your world, be it 18th century London or 20th century New York - GET TO KNOW THEIR SURROUNDINGS. And if you create it from your mind be prepared to do more research than if you just plucked the setting from a real place. Make your world real, make your characters react realistically, make them REAL. Give their thoughts, their desires, their actions and reactions MEANING. And for the love of GOD, STOP MAKING THEM BROOD AND SIGH JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO OTHER OUTLET FOR THEM TO CONVEY HONEST EMOTION.
If you can get your characters to stop looking 'hot' and 'beautiful like a gazelle' for two fucking minutes, I'm sure you'll find it quite EASY to have them break down and cry one day or scream and yell in rage, or hell, even smile widely with joy. Their looks don't have to come into EVERYTHING every two seconds.
This is what I find wrong with the state of books being pushed to become "best-sellers." All that lines the shelves are YA-Vampire/Werewolf/Fairy/Pixie/Bad Boy books with black covers and girls in ridiculous dresses. What happened to the spunky, just characters, the characters that were fighting for their world, their lives, or the ones they loved? What happened to the epic choices one had to face to test themselves? What happened to the epic battles? Saving the world, getting the girl? What happened to magic? To absolutely beautifully gripping books that make you not want to put them down but keep reading (and not just because you're laughing so hard and you want to know how this terrible book could possibly go)? What happened to books?
And why are these editors and publishers letting these kinds of books step into the lime light? Why are we being subjected to these poorly written, absolutely lacking books that have (if you will notice) 34 year old women clawing for a time when they were 20-28? Why are we letting good writing step aside for pure dross?
And why are we okay with movies being made about them? Why are we okay that the 3 big houses are publishing this mess because they don't want to take a chance on any other (possibly) good work that's been out there for years?
I will admit, everyone that buys my book, I cringe, hoping they like it, but preparing myself for a world of 'oh this is awful,' only to be fervently greeted with, "Wow. This is amazing." It stuns me, yes, it does, but I take it in stride, and write the next one knowing that I have a following, I have these 20 or so people that want me to keep writing it. And they tell their friends, and they tell their friends, and so it goes. I write for them, for myself, and because this story needs to be told.
If my books one day reaches a "best-selling" number, so be it, but I will not change the track I am on to suit anyone else's needs. I don't write fanfiction, I don't pay too much attention to what characters on shows do like some, I don't watch many Vampire-themed shows and movies, I don't read the latest and greatest novel out there just to hop on the bandwagon like some, I stick to what I know, what I do.
And I read.
I allow myself a few weeks, if so, of reading time, a chance to broaden my mind with other worlds, other characters that aren't my own, and then it's back to work, after a time of reflecting on what I've read, of course. But I always go back to my writing with my notes, the book that came before, and a fresh mind above all.
I write because I need to. Not to win fame and fortune.
It's the very reason why I act.
There's no other way to exist for me.
I'm either immersing myself in another life or I'm creating one.
And as long as people read/see what I have done and it has touched them, then my job is done.
But I will never accept Twilight or 50 Shades or any other such book as "good writing" like some of my peers have done because to me, writing about how much you want to fuck some imaginary guy is not creating a story. Give me some depth, some characters that have actual issues, that have actual hang ups, and I'll consider it. But if all that graces the shelves are 'Oh Ronaldo, I want to be with you but I can't because I'm a Mermaid (flips fins in chagrin)', then by all means, count me out of this "Best-Seller" wave.
I'll be here, writing my own books and inspiring others to do the same.