Writers are like Wine

Two weeks back I went to visit my sister-in-law and she took me to a bookstore/boutique where I found some new and used books from some authors I havent seen since I was sneaking my mothers romance books to supplement my daily doses of fiction and fantasy (I figure from the age of 13 to 21, I read 10 books a week in the 200 to 300 page range, 40 books a month, 480 books a year, and roughly 3840 books in that eight year span. To this date the longest book I read was Les Mes at 1400+ pages when I was 16. Despite that plunge into Classical genre, Im not much for it, I always liked romance. And about 1/3 of those 3840 books were romance).

So while reading one of the books last night, I thought it sounded familiar, so I looked through my bookcase and found I already owned a book by the author she wrote in 2009. The difference between the two books was startling, and I dont mean the fact that one is sci-fi romance and the other historical romance. The difference was in the plots and subplots, the voice, and the writing itself.

Her writing is like cheap wine that doesnt age well, not quite vinegar, but not as smooth and rich in flavor. This earlier book was written in 1993, 16 years earlier then her other, and it writing style was smooth and rich in flavor, the plot and subplots were fuller and her voice strong. It was by far a better book, not trying to say the later one was a failure, I liked it upon its own merits, but it would have been so much better it if she had not decided to follow the trends, if her plots and subplots had been stronger and made sense, if her voice had been as confident, and if her writing didnt sound like everyone elses and turned stagnant.

Ive read writers that age well, though a few of their books arent the best, they strive to do better than the last book. They learn from their mistakes and their writing is like fine port. Well flavored, blended, and smooth.

7 Comments

  1. I think there are a couple of things that have to do with the lower quality of her work.

    1. She traditionally published, so she has to write what her publisher wants in the way her publisher wants it. She does not, in the end, have full control over her work. Ever wonder why some books by the same publisher (ex. Harlequin) end up sounding a lot alike? The editors and publishers “know” what their readers want and mold the books to fit that image. This is why you can pick up any book in Harlequin and Silhouette line and know exactly what you’re going to read, regardless of the author. This is part of what makes that publisher so popular. Readers know what they are getting.

    2. She might be burned out. If you want to stay relevant in traditional publishing, you have to go on their time frame, not your own. The way publishers are going to make money is if authors with enough of a fan base will keep writing books. I know one author who was given a contract to write 18 novels in 2 years, and I see her publisher producing a new book every time I turn around. It’s like fast food. They want it fast and out there to the public. I can only imagine the kind of stress authors go through. (Another traditionally published author said that she was two months past her deadline and hated her characters and the whole plot but was determined to write the final chapter that night. I can only imagine how that book turned out–mediocre and flat, I assume.)

    3. She might have a ghostwriter. James Patterson doesn’t write all of his work, and this might lead some people to believe his quality isn’t as good in some books as in others. This might possibly be the case with the author you just read. A good ghostwriter is able to mimic the author’s technique. So the books might seem like they have the same author when they really don’t.

    Anyway, you can’t be too hard on the traditionally published author. They have pressures and stresses that the rest of us don’t know about.

    And this is why indie authors have it so good. We have the luxury of writing what we feel like when we feel like it. We aren’t trapped by contracts and deadlines. And, personally, I don’t buy for a minute that a regular midlist traditionally published author necessarily makes more than an indie author. Very few authors hit “Stephanie Meyer” status. Most of us are at the same level where we all get a fair chance at the system.

    And this is why it’s important to write your best work. I do not know how one person can write their best work when they aren’t passionate about it. Passion makes all the difference. It’s what takes you from mediocre and flat to wanting to do the very best you can to bloom. Sure, you may not hit the mark every time, but you’ll keep on trying. 😀

    1. I liked both books before upon their own merits. I wasn’t aware that they were by the same author until I got to the end and saw her picture. i knew I’d seen it before, so I I read her bio and learned her name. The Sci-fi was under a pen name. But I do agree with you. there are so many reasons for her books to lag.

  2. Mari Miniatt says:

    I look my first book and cringe sometimes. Then I pick up “Colour of Magic” by Terry Pratchett. That was his first discworld book, and not one of my favorites. His writing gets better and better. Look at Stephan King compare “Carrie” to “Misery”.
    I know people like my book, but I want the next book to be better. Just like my two writing heroes.

    As for Ms. Meyer, I came to a conclusion today. She is cursed now. Her fans only want certain type of vampire stories. She tried with the Host (which I liked). But most people over looked it because it wasn’t about vampires or was written by that “sparkly vampire” lady.

    If that is how success is going to treat me, just give me enough fame so I can write full time. In the genre I feel like writing, and hope I find readers no matter what.

    1. When I look back at some of my old work I cringe. I just hope that my later stuff is better. And I agree with you on the Meyer thing, but think of King and Pratchett too. They’re stuck in the genres they write and when they try to step out of it, they’re ridiculed and put down for daring. (gasp!) As if “how dare they change things on me!”

      I read Twilight before it became a craze because my sister liked it. I read the series to see what happened. And she is cursed to write sequel series to the Twilight. Sad, because I think it reached it’s end. As for the Host, what is it about? The library never carried it and I’m not such a big fan to research out all her books.

      1. mariminiatt says:

        The Host is a lot like Invasion of the Body snatchers. Except the Alien that takes over, starts to experience human emotions and wants more.
        There is a tangled love story, but its because the alien wants the emotions.

        Far more interesting in my opinion.

        1. Stephannie says:

          I like the idea, and since I did enjoy Meyers writing, I’m going to put it on my TBR pile. Thanks for mentioning it.

          1. I have to admit, I’ve read the Twilight series, which was okay, but I haven’t bothered with The Host, either. I know I complain because “everyone” boxes in writers, like, as you mentioned, once you get known for vampires (and no one takes vampires seriously!) no one wants to read your other genres, because I can see how I could land there, myself. But, I’m just as bad. I’ve read all of Anne Rice’s vampire books, but none of her witches, just like Laurel K Hamilton; I’ve only read Anita Blake, but haven’t bothered to try her other series.

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