Yeah, sure, everyone thinks they're the world's best writer.
Well, sure, I think I'm pretty good. There are those that agree with me. But how in GOD'S NAME does some of the crap I read get accepted by anyone with a brain? I've taken into consideration that perhaps I just don't like what the author is trying to say, or maybe I'm not into the genre, or maybe I just don't personally like their style. Even putting all these seemingly minor things aside, there is no excuse for some of the idiocy I've seen in well-established writers' work.
These people break all kinds of rules of writing. Yeah, yeah, I know, rules were made to be broken. I break 'em myself. But only if there's a good reason and it's successful. I'm talking about stuff that just makes me go, "Oh, MAN."
Did you ever read one of those books where everyone talks alike? Where you can't tell who's talking unless someone tells you? Oh, oh, and how about when people talk about stuff for no apparent reason except that the author wants you to get the exposition in what he/she thinks is a truly original format? Oh! And how about those people who think that as long as they use every permutation of the word "said," their writing suddenly can be considered varied? What about when fictional folks say stuff they just *would not say* in real life? Or when you read the stuff out loud and it sounds totally unnatural? It is as if the author took classes and read books about speech, but never tried it. Why can't authors write how people really talk? And why are they published when I'm not?
"Little did she know that she was meeting her future husband for the first time." ARGUHAGHGHHHHH!!! What is that?? Flashbacks are excusable (I use 'em m'self!), and exposition is fine through dialogue, example, whatever . . . but for the love of God, why don't some people understand that the reader is not supposed to notice exposition? Of course, you're going to notice that you're being filled in if it's a flashback or something, but it shouldn't feel like "now, you'll need to know these seemingly unimportant details later in the story or you won't understand what's going on, so pay attention." And seriously obvious foreshadowing is just painful. Why is it that these stories are successful with such horrible exposition? And why are they published when I'm not?
One day, at the Authors' Club, they handed out Character Cookie Cutters. And Lo, they were used in every popular story. The same six characters. The sexy female love interest. The macho heroic protagonist. The cute kid. The fun-loving sidekick/confidante. The Wise Character. The weird person with the strange disease/mental instability that makes his/her antics interesting. Did you know that each of these prototypes speak exactly the same? Sometimes they wear a certain idiosyncratic jacket or have a specific expression, and this is so you can tell them apart. Assign each a name and you have the makings of a bestseller. Yeah, yeah, I know...it's rare that you find a story with all six, or one that doesn't have some others that don't fit. But when you find these, they tend to act as if they all grew up together and went to Character College before they came to reside in so-and-so's novel.
Some authors forget that characters are people. They have to have choices. They have to have a will, they have to have a real life, they have to sometimes surprise their "creators." Too often I read a book and feel that the character has just told the author's story, or been a vessel for the author's favorite jokes. I want to hear the character's story. I sometimes read books and want to have a conference with the authors and show them where their stitching is showing in the eyes of their characters. I want to know the character. I want the character to exist and do things and sometimes act illogically, to not always be right, to not always be good, to change from time to time in the story, to have more than one dimension and to refrain from being any personality type's poster child. Why are these lifeless characters given stories to tell? And why are they published and I'm not?
Sex and violence
Sex sells. Authors know it, and that's why they stick it in the book. "It's got dirty parts," they say. "People are sure to want it." Just like with movies . . . people confuse "sexy and full of blood" with "good." I've actually been told that until I put some love scenes and fighting scenes into my books, I won't see an acceptance letter. My butt, I'll compromise my work! If there's no sex in the story, there simply isn't sex. I've read books where there's absolutely no reason for those two people to screw, except that the author thought that would make it more interesting. I just rolled my eyes when I came to that part and came through the love scene thoroughly unimpressed. How about some content here, guys? The itty-bitty-titty scenes don't cut it. How come sex and violence has sold many a story? And why are they published and I'm not?
IT'S GOT A GODDAMN TYPO!!!
Excuse me? Someone call the copyeditor police. NO novel in this Age of Spellcheckers should allow this amount of gross spelling negligence to pass into published pages. It was my understanding that it's so damn hard to get published that you damn well *better* have taken all the errors out before the editor sees it. But whatever, even if it gets to that point full of errors, it shouldn't come out that way. Is the typesetter stupid? Is someone undeserving of their editor job? Did this book just not GET any editing? Is your budget that low? Let me, I'll edit it for free. Why can't people submit error-free manuscripts? And why are they published and I'm not?
Honestly, it probably has to do with the fact that I never submit anything, but we'll ignore that technicality for now.
Okay, and in response to suidine underneath my entry here, I really must add that I should have expected someone to give me the "ohh, poor baby" speech for this, but I am not being pushed aside and insulted by the so-called "evil editors." I have not been submitting my work to publishers and have not been burned or tossed out by anyone. I've already included a disclaimer that everyone thinks they're the world's best writer and I'm not exempt from overrating my own stuff sometimes. However, my main reason for writing this essay was not to say I'm great, but to point out gross plot, character, and typographical errors that somehow make it into published novels. I'm not really talking about my own stuff's merit; I'm just bitching that lots of stuff out there now sucks, and everyone can agree with this to some degree, I think . . .