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Kindle ruins English literature with crazy new plan to publish the slush heap


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Showing 51-75 of 483 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 21:11:11 GMT
Mwah ha hahargh! OK bear with me everyone, we're going to take a trip off topic.

Michael, sometimes you make a lot of sense, sometimes it's thoroughly uninformed bollocks. There's a bit of bollocks in your post here, so I would just like to draw your attention to a major flaw in your argument. You seem to be implying that stay at home parents have time on their hands. Mwah ha haha ha ha hargh!

So... I used to be a brand manager for a household name. Yes, I may not be brilliant at writing books but I'm sparkly, ding-dong hot at branding. That job regularly had me driving 1,000 miles a week. It was usual for me to have to get from Cambridgeshire to Gatwick for meetings at 7.00 am. I regularly got home from work at 11pm. That company had my life.

Now, I'm a stay at home mum.

In both those times, I wrote. Guess which of the two I had the most time to write in? That's right, the life sapping 7am to 11pm job.

For a stay at home Mum spare time is a rumour, a distant memory, as are weeing alone and sleep! She has to concentrate on her child all the time so it doesn't do anything silly and kill itself. Trust me on this, it is a miracle that any child reaches the age of 3. They are hell bent on eating every poisonous plant in the garden, running out into the road, jumping out of upper storey windows, choking themselves and other ridiculous things. They will find things to almost kill themselves with that you couldn't imagine were harmful. They're small, difficult to catch and they move incredibly fast... well... OK, maybe that's just mine.

It probably takes me about 6 months to write a book but because I'm a stay at home mum that works out at about 2 years. Having kids is like having your brain stirred continuously with a huge wooden spoon. Stringing two thoughts - a sentence - together is a major achievement.

Clearly you've never tried bringing up children or possibly you have left it entirely to your wife.

Go find the Michael Mackintyre sketch about leaving the house with kids... really, it's amazing and it can be fun but it's definitely not something that frees up your time. Phnark. There is no way to describe it unless you've lived it.

In short; get your facts right. That one's wrong.

I agree about authonomy though, you need to join a crit group on the forums if you're going to achieve anything there.

Cheers

MTM

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 21:44:42 GMT
But of course, Ethereal! :-)

As for >>When it wears off will the author still be known and raking it in? Time will tell but I doubt it<<, EL James will no longer *need* to be raking it in, after the colossal success of "Fifty ..."

Good for her. Not good for the future of literary criticism, but good for her. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 21:46:20 GMT
I was wondering when someone was going to pull Michael up on that ...

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 22:08:24 GMT
Finn says:
Re your point about memoirs and biographies in which 'the plot is controlled by life'.

You're not comparing like with like. People will read these because they are true, not because of their literary merits. A good example of the difference between fact and fiction is the law of coincidence. We might marvel at the lucky break which turned some unknown into an overnight success if it happened in reality. If it were to happen in a work of fiction, we would legitimately accuse the writer of just being lazy.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 22:18:08 GMT
MTM, you couldn't be more wrong.

I've been a stay at home parent. Whilst at home I spent hours debugging programs. So much so that my daughter's first words were "make assign". This was a result of a subroutine that was causing a program to crash. The subroutine was 'Go to make assign' in tracking the error I mumbled those words so many times as she sat their in her rocker that she simply repeated them.

You are also wrong about Authonomy. I don't know if anything's changed but last I knew the most 'successful' member of the website was not a member of any crit-group.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 22:18:15 GMT
>>People will read these because they are true<< and for a host of other reasons, as well, one of which is projection, a way of experiencing an 'exciting' or 'glamorous' life vicariously through reading about another's.

Your point is still true, that they do so without thought for the literary merits of the works. However, although I have never read a 'celebrity' biography or autobiography, I would imagine that, on the whole, they are, in fact, reasonably well written. Very rarely is a celebrity autobiography written by the celebrity in question; or, at least, it is rarely published in the raw form in which it arrives on the publisher's desk. There is also an expectation on the part of the publisher that they will have to spend a lot of money getting the book publication ready, as the book will have been contracted - I would be very surprised to find a single celebrity book - whether memoir or cookbook or home improvement tome - that appeared from nowhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 22:37:00 GMT
Sorry Finn, you're post makes no sense whatsoever.

You seem to be saying that if it happened in real life - you believe it.
But if a writer puts the same scenario into fiction - it's the writer being lazy.

That's amongst the dumbest statements I've heard in a long time.

Here's something simple for you to analyse and study.

A childish, juvenile synonym for fiction is 'make-believe'. Study the word(s). They are the fiction writer's job. It's not really about grammar and punctuation. It's about making the reader believe any **** you tell them. Hence, voice and confidence important. The opening of any (modern) novel needs to state. "I know exactly what I'm doing. I'm your friend you can trust me. And I swear to you . . . this is the way it happened."

Forrest Gump is a good example. Cut to the core most successful modern plots are ridiculous. They exist one step beyond the reader's concept of reality.

My neighbour is a vampire.
I was once kidnapped by Aliens.
There are spies with special contraptions.
Love conquers all.

Nah!

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2012, 22:41:23 GMT
And Marcus, just to put you into the 'real world' . . .

Celebrity bios and cookery books finance the literary industry. Seven out of ten publications do not recover their advance. Without the money for the 'crap' that publishers publish the industry would be long dead.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 02:38:43 GMT
Irish reader says:
"You seem to be saying that if it happened in real life - you believe it.
But if a writer puts the same scenario into fiction - it's the writer being lazy.

That's amongst the dumbest statements I've heard in a long time."

I'm with Finn on this one. How is it dumb? Sometimes people get lucky in real life. In fiction, it's regarded as a lazy plot device - I think it's called deus ex machina (something like that - you should check it out).

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 08:31:48 GMT
Sou'Wester says:
If a book is sufficiently well written authors can actually get away with really outrageous coincidences and "lucky breaks". There's no more obvious example of this than Dickens (just think about the plot of "Oliver Twist" or "Nicholas Nickleby") but I do think you've got to produce something quite extraordinary for the reader to go along with it. In lesser works such coincidences just come across as lame and the reader ends up feeling cheated.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 08:56:06 GMT
Irish Reader, this where I have I a problem.

"In fiction, it's regarded as a lazy plot device."

By who? Who is it that writes this rule book that only writers know about? I'm sure that if every reader was informed what was supposed to be allowed then they'd buy the right books.

I'm afraid I'm of the opposite opinion. For me making the ridiculous or unbelievable, believable is what good writers do. You'll find that most of the big franchises are based on ridiculous plots and characters, and bizarre coincidences.

If Angela Lansbury visits your home town - leave!. Somebody will get murdered.

Posted on 30 Dec 2012, 09:32:47 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Dec 2012, 09:45:22 GMT
Ethereal says:
I've read some biographies but no celeb memoirs; my understanding is most are ghost written (except perhaps the likes of Dawn French who I would think wrote her own). So literary wouldn't really come into it, it's more about the story and I'm just not interested in them. Coincidences happen in life and most celebs do seem to assign a lot of their success to luck. I can imagine celeb autobiographies may well be the mainstay of publishing though I have no actual idea.
I'm not keen on coincidence in fiction either unless well done. It is probably modern thinking in these days of writing guides that it's lazy writing but I think it's to do with novels giving the reader hope such things can happen to them, if they work at it. You'd as well wish for a miracle as coincidence. No one wants to read about a serial killer being caught by luck, but great detective work.
ETA: Or like making it as a writer!

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 10:10:45 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Dec 2012, 10:13:36 GMT
Tinca says:
"your argument fails and will always fail because the appreciation of a story is subjective."

Of course it is, nearly everything is, apart from a few obscure branches of mathematics. Even your appreciation and assessment of my argument is subjective and therefore fails by your own logic - because it is subjective. I can assert this but it doesn't add anything to the discussion that I can see.

"If it is left to the public - " 'the public' is famous for making the wrong choices in so many areas of our lives. I can think of many analogies but, writer though you are, you don't like them. Best not leave it to the public...

Dawn French still writes longhand... sorry, you've lost me.

"Writing fiction requires imagination and talent - You can't learn these things." Non sequitur - when has anyone in this discussion suggested otherwise? But imagination and talent are not enough, sadly - to be successful artist in any sphere requires years of sheer hard graft, refining the talent, shaping and controlling that imagination. Remember inspiration and perspiration? Or this from Calvin Coolidge?

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

As someone else has remarked, your posts combine genuine insight and experience with occasional things that just don't stand up to scrutiny - no doubt you see mine the other way around!

Congratulations on negotiating foreign rights. If only...

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 10:49:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Dec 2012, 10:49:45 GMT
Tinca, sorry, I can't subscribe to this. It is clearly a fraud.

". . . to be successful artist in any sphere requires years of sheer hard graft, refining the talent, shaping and controlling that imagination. Remember inspiration and perspiration?"

Stephen Kelman (35) Debut novelist / Bloomsbury - 2011 Mann Booker Prize nominee. (six-figure advance).
JK Rowling (32) Debut novelist / Bloomsbury. (£1,500 advance)
E L James (47) Debut novelist / Arrow (seven-figure advance).
Stephenie Meyer (30) Debut novelist (3 months from inception to publication). ($750,000 advance).
Amanda Hocking (26) Debut novelist. ($2,000,000 advance).

The above list contains the names and ages of all the breakthrough novelists I know (without research). I have included their age at first publication. I see no dedication to craft or honing of talent.

Where do writers get these rumours from?

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 11:05:44 GMT
monica says:
1) Perhaps Tinca should have written ' . . . to be a good artist . . . . ' .

2) That someone's book is a 'debut novel' (how I should love to shake with great vigour the person who first used that phrase) doesn't indicate that someone has only recently begun writing. There may be years of writing before one gets published. You say that writing requires imagination and talent, but you fail to add that it requires skill, which can be acquired: First by paying attention in English class, second by reading lots of good writing, and third by practice.

3) Is James the Shades of Grey perpetrator? A list of exemplars containing her & Meyer isn't to be taken seriously, unless

4) You equate successful writing with how much money it makes rather than with high quality of the writing. That old chestnut--van Gogh being unable to sell his paintings: does this indicate that he isn't a successful artist but that someone who's been able to buy several homes, a yacht, a peerage because of income from his paintings of weeping clowns is?

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 11:23:07 GMT
Monica, in this circumstance (as far as I can tell) All authors have 'successfully' published the first novel they wrote.

You've also rekindled the quality argument. I will not entertain the argument unless somebody can point me to the body which defines literary quality.

Back in the day "English Language" and "English Literature" were two different subjects. Combining them seems to have been a mistake. People have become confused. Indeed, most of the participants of this debate seem to be judging the quality of the literature on the quality of language.

Googled . . . and found this.

William Faulkner wasn't a truly terrible speller, but if you take a look at his original manuscripts there are some definite errors the iconic Southern author wouldn't have wanted to see in print. Despite setting many of his famous books and short stories in the difficult to spell and pronounce Yoknapatawpha County, Faulkner's editors confirm that despite their repeated attempts to point out his mistakes, he made spelling errors all through his career.

Few writers are so known for their bad spelling as F Scott Fitzgerald. How bad, you say? Fitzgerald wasn't even able to spell the name of one of his closest friends, Hemingway, often misaddressing him in correspondence and papers as "Earnest Hemminway." The editor of his collected letters called him a "lamentable speller" who struggled with words like "definite" and "criticism." Still, his poor spelling didn't seem to do the author any harm, and many of his works are regarded as literary masterpieces today.

Ernest Hemingway may not have had much room to judge when it came to his friend Fitzgerald not spelling his name correctly. Long before the days of spell check, Hemingway had to rely on newspaper and book editors to catch his mistakes, a job which they often complained would be a lot easier if he would make an effort to spell things correctly (though Hemingway retorted that that's what they were being paid to do).

Jane Austen may have a place among the literary elites today, but when it came to spelling and grammar she wasn't too handy with either. Research into her personal letters and manuscripts has exposed numerous errors in spelling and grammar that were corrected later by her early editor, William Gifford. One of her favorite misspellings? She often spelled "scissors" as "scissars."

Agatha Christie penned some of the bestselling books ever created, but the author admitted once, "I, myself, was always recognized ... as the "slow one" in the family. It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was ... an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day." Despite her struggles with spelling, Christie was an enormously successful writer, and has gone down in theGuinness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 11:25:48 GMT
Tinca says:
Spot on , Monica. By 'successful' I meant 'good' in the sense of a skilled practitioner of the art.

We all know that this does not necessarily equate with numbers of books sold - often it's an inverse ratio. Like so many others, Michael is dazzled by numbers, which is fine as long as they do not argue that that is the sole measure of a writer's worth. Of course we would all like to sell more but some won't pay any price to achieve that.

Someone will now mention snobbery... and so it goes.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 11:30:48 GMT
Agreed. I don't think I suggested otherwise.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 12:43:08 GMT
By this continual avoidance of the question I'm going to assume that writers themselves want to adjudicate on what is good and what is bad.

I freely admit I am incapable of writing a complete novel that would satisfy a group of people who are pre-programmed to identify good and bad based on somewhat arbitrary and dated criteria. The problem appears to be that most writers whether it be consciously or subconsciously attempt to emulate their heroes. The result is akin to a karaoke covers of Vera Lynn classics. People change. The world has changed. Life has become more complicated. Attention spans have shortened.

Rock and Roll was dismissed by your forefathers as 3 chord garbage.
Punk Rock was dismissed by your father as a distasteful noise.
Rap Music was dismissed by you as a disgusting awful noise that did not qualify as music.

- Future generations disagreed.

It has become clear to me that the better writers write like themselves and the also rans attempt to write like the better writers.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 12:54:37 GMT
Ethereal says:
"It has become clear to me that the better writers write like themselves and the also rans attempt to write like the better writers."

That would make a good quote - except I think most writers begin by trying to emulate their heroes then fail, and to keep on writing they're forced to find their own paths.
It also seems to me the latest trend is writers trying too hard to be different, as if this will lead them to be the next acclaimed bestsellers. And few experiments in writing haven't been done before.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 13:35:38 GMT
Pity you don't practise what you preach! I see your name cropping up quite often in reviews. If snobbery be the name of the game which side of the board are you actually routing for? You criticise in detail perfectly good books for supposed grammar irregularities, whilst you praise total 'cack'. Clearly you have an agenda, care to clarify?

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 13:37:09 GMT
I'm now not entirely sure what the 'question' is, Michael! :-)

Perhaps it's because I've still got my Christmas 'flu ... what is this discussion about, again?

Posted on 30 Dec 2012, 13:46:51 GMT
If the argument is about editing and quality control, it's interesting to see how many people (here) have republished novels to KDP, which were originally published by mainstream publishers. Not all authors state when a specific novel was pre-published or by which publisher. And yet, these very novels on Amazon are being slammed for so-called grammatical errors and other faults, which either doesn't bode well for the original editor who edited said book, or the reviewer has an agenda!

As I said to Bookwoman: Pity you don't practise what you preach! I see your name cropping up quite often in reviews. If snobbery be the name of the game which side of the board are you actually routing for? You criticise in detail perfectly good books for supposed grammar irregularities, whilst you praise total 'cack'. Clearly you have an agenda, care to clarify?

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 13:55:52 GMT
Wholeheartedly agree with your last sentence, which sums up precisely, in a nut shell, hammer to nail: one wo/man's meat another's poison.

As a passing shot: novellas are big business and popular reading for commuters with smart phones. Small is beautiful...

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2012, 14:06:49 GMT
Michael, further to your wonderful Google research, did you know the versions of Jane Austen novels now available via book stores and on-line outlets such as Amazon et al have undergone 20th century editing. So too have many of Georgette Heyer and Daphe du Maurier books. The reason being to render them more appealing to the less well read, (snobbery) simply because the narrative of the older versions has proved less sale worthy than that of the easy-read format! I am referring to first/second editions as opposed to the recent re-publications of aforesaid ladies books.
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