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J is an unpublished author, represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. J's first novel is a YA fantasy horror, regarding a siren who must choose between the haunting life and humanity. J draws on occasion, reads quite often, and is a founding member of the critique group 'Thoughtical Verbosity.'

Friday, September 9, 2011

Writing Ze Book You Want to Read

Hey internet;

I believe I mentioned that I was working on another rant. That was true, and I liked the idea of it before I started. Then I got about three sentences in and got bored.

"I can't stand rules that are--SQUIRREL!"

The idea still lingers in my mind and maybe one day I'll return to it (the rant was about silly rules) but for now there's something else stuck in my craw that I would like to discuss.

I say discuss because I hope others will take the baton and run with it, either on their own blogs or on this one...just let me know, I'd love to hear your opinions :)

So, over at YAtopia (love the name, it's right up there with Libratopia) there is an easy-to-enter contest, open to everyone and with fabulous prizes. Free book? Possibility of a kindle? Squeee pick me pick me! I already have a stack of books without shelves to call home, let's make the pile truly outrageous!!

Well, in order to enter the contest you have to just say what book you are most looking forward to in 2012. Easy enough; that's a whole year of fresh publishing to choose from.

I've been following publishing news a lot, lately, but hadn't gone beyond this year. So I popped around on the mighty interwebz and found a few lists. I spent some time searching. And searching. A perusing. And searching.

And my face got longer. And longer. And frownier. And frownier.

Let me start by saying that I, like thousands of other faceless someones out there, have been putting a considerable amount of blood, sweat and tears into writing my own book. Ze Book. I love it. The characters are my friends, I care about them and want other people to care about them. The plot is exiting to me and the wordplay is my pride and joy. At the same time, all of the above can be excruciating to make happen. I know this.

Now that he's compiled all the drafts of Chapter 01, he can scrap them all and start over with what he's learned!
And I'm not even querying yet. So I give mad props to any and all who have reached that stage, found their agents, got their deals, and are now gleefully awaiting the due date of their hardcover honeys*.

So I'm not trying to be snide or flippant or disparaging. That's the last thing I'd do to someone who I know has worked their brains into mush and achieved THE DREAM.

But pretty much all of the 2012 books sound exactly. The. Same.
This book cookie-cutter illustrates my point AND makes me want little book cookies.

Here's the basic format:

Sad Underage Estrogenbot (we'll call her 'SUE' from here on out) has something tragic in her past. Then BOOM something happens that ushers Some Totally Uninteresting Dude (we'll call him 'STUD' from here on out) into her life. There's some sort of mystery or problem going on, the solution to which is painfully obvious to any reader with basic thinking skills but WILL be dragged on until the last chapter. SUE and STUD make painfully unappealing googly eyes at each other despite hating each other for legitimate reasons and/or already being so TOTALLY in love because the author says so.

SUE will be determined to fix the aforementioned problem/mystery, but will in fact end up doing little more than riding on the coattails of her supporting cast while loudly bemoaning her fate. She will get all the credit in the end because...well, because she's SUE.

There is some variation, of course. But not much. SUE is always super-sad or angry about something. If the world is a dystopian future (it probably is, because that's what's hot right now) SUE will approach everything with the morally justified eyes of someone from our time, even if it makes absolutely no sense for her to do so because she's known nothing but the dystopian world her entire life.

Oh, and the cover will be a picture of SUE in one of those floaty-puffy-dreamy dresses, just sort of...floating. Looking dramatic. Probably against a gray, watery, misty, or ashy background. I thought about making a collage of all the covers I've seen like that, but that would feel too much like I'm going after specific people, which I am definitely not.

But come on...I'd like to see some variety on the 'new arrivals' shelf.

To make matters worse (better? I don't even know) I think I understand what's going on. It's not exactly a secret that books (especially YA books, I believe) have a tendency to play follow-the-leader. One novel will come out, get a lot of people excited, and then for the next few years we see an increasing number of books in that style until there seems to be nothing but watered-down versions of it available.

Harry Potter --------------> thousands of fantasy, magicky adventures.

Twilight -------------------> thousands of vampire/human romances.

The Hunger Games -------> thousands of dystopian worlds with female leads.

Well, I believe/hope we are at the point where the schtick has run out. It's about time for a new genre boost. I'm rooting for something with more humor in it.

But what do you guys think? What's the next big 'thing?' Or, you can say I'm completely off my rocker. That's okay, too. Working on Ze Book may have made me hyper-critical of what others write, especially when I feel like I've read it dozens of time...or if the SUEs and STUDs are just so mind-numbingly boring, annoying, and unlikable that I find myself screaming at the book to "END. END."

My solution is to write Ze Book I want to read, as writers have been encouraged to do since shortly before Methuselah was born. What's yours?

1 comment:

  1. you crack me up! my kids quote UP! all the time.. SQUIRREL!