Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday

Good writing versus bad. It's like art--you may not be an expert, but you know good art (or writing) when you see it.

In a recent interview with USA Weekend, Stephen King said about JK Rowling (Harry Potter) and Stephanie Meyer (Twilight): "Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good."

But then King recalls that when his mom was alive, she read all the Erle Stanley Gardner books, the Perry Mason mysteries, obsessively when he was growing up. "He was a terrible writer, too, but he was very successful," King says. "Somebody who’s a terrific writer who’s been very, very successful is Jodi Picoult. You’ve got Dean Koontz, who can write like hell. And then sometimes he’s just awful. It varies. James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful. People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it's not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet."

So, does it matter if you're a bad writer or a good one, if what people are attracted to are the stories? Do you think Stephanie Meyer isn't laughing all the way to the bank, regardless of of how you feel about her writing?

In my opinion, yes it does matter. You're doing your readers a disservice if you're not learning (and applying what you've learned) how to properly structure a sentence, how to plot (and plot well), how to create vibrant, motivated characters, etc. I will tell you right now that I haven't read Meyer's books, or Rowling's, either, so I'm not going to debate whether either is good or bad. They have each managed to reach out and strike a chord with readers, in different ways. And, I guess, at the end of the day, that's what every author's looking to do.

Some just do it better than others.


Colleen Love said...

Hi Sherrill,

When I first saw this article, my first thought was 'Ouch!'
I think a bad writer can learn to become a good writer, much the same way a musician can learn to play notes on a page. But weather or not the talent is there to make those words sing is a different matter altogether.

I'm with you in thinking it does matter, especially if you want to be a professional in your field. You should always care and strive to better yourself in what you do with anything.
It's never fun to have a reader/reviewer not 'get' your story, but then, with so many diverse people reading them, there are always those who will really like them.

I haven't read the Twilight series either, but I have been reading a series written by Robert Jordan that I love very much. I have seen alot of people say he is too discriptive and it's too dry for them. But that's what I really like. I love to be drawn into that writers world and absorbed by the story. So, I guess everyone will have a different opinion about different story tastes. And yes, it's true, there will always be those out there who do things better then I ever will. lol

Great Tipsy Tuesday!


Sherrill Quinn said...

Thanks, Colleen. I guess it comes down to everyone has to make their own decision about what kind of writer they are/can be.

Hope your week's going well.