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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Less Hype--More Meat

A few years ago I joined the OWW (Online Writing Workshop for SF, Fantasy and Horror) Yahoo group along with the critique group. There was a comment from a regular there that stuck with me over the years. I don't even remember who made the comment, but I remember he had published some short fiction and like the rest of us struggled to catch the eye of an agent or editor.

He said (and I'm paraphrasing): I'm not looking to write the next big epic nor do I have visions of being a best seller. I just want to write a good story that people will enjoy.

In my quest for authordom, sometimes I forgot that wisdom. While it's nice to write the next BIG thing, there's nothing wrong with writing just a plain good story.

On my bookshelf is a novel by Suzanne Frank, called 'Shadows On The Aegean'. It was a book I found in a discount book bin. It looked a little beat up but the subject and genre captured my attention and I bought it on the spot. The thing I remember most about this book is the way Frank merged science and fantasy. I loved the story too, a time traveling couple who end up in Atlantis.

It's the kind of story I liked curling up with in bed, the kind of story I looked forward reading every night after a brutal day at the office. And I hated when it ended. It was the kind of book I never considered donating or chucking into a garage sale box. It was a plain good story--one I might read again.

Now that I'm in the business and I read all these posts about agents wanting the next BIG thing, I shake my head. As a reader, I'd much prefer a good solid story that is intelligent and original. I can't say that's always the case with the BIG books.

Sometimes it's the little known books that stay with you long after their day in the sun.

In that vein, I want you to check out KS Augustin's latest.

A Pirate's Passion just came out this week. I read it yesterday and I was a happy camper the rest of the day. It's just one of those stories that satisfies.

In celebration of Kaz's release I am giving away a gift voucher for "A Pirate's Passion" to one lucky person who comments on this blog post. Deadline is Saturday 5-9-09 at 12 noon.

Your turn:
What kind of stories have satisfied you the most--the BIG idea books or the lesser hyped stories? Has there been one book that's stuck with you for years?


darkened_jade said...

A nice thought, and one which all writers should keep at all times. Thanks for sharing.

Marianne Arkins said...

To be honest, the big stories have done little for me. I very much disliked the much-hyped "The Time Traveler's Wife" and I still haven't read the last Harry Potter book. ::shrugs::

I find myself returning to old favorites time after time. I'm re-reading Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series right now. They are GOOD STORIES.

Jannette Johnson said...

While I understand the motivation behind why the big publising houses do what they do, I think the fact they overlook good authors because it doesn't fit their requirement will be to their downfall.

No one knows what will be a hit and what won't. I remember some Austrailian publishing house toting the fact they'd found a novel about a young boy and something to do with archaeology, and were claiming it to be the next 'Harry Potter'. But I haven't seen anything yet.

Kaz Augustin said...

Y'know, it's not even books. Just a story can do it. One little story. To this day, I remember borrowing a big yellow sci-fi anthology from the library (which was literally across the road from me...I was in heaven for years!) and reading "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley Weinbaum. I can remember the weight of the book, the beige of the paper, its texture. And, of course, that wonderful wonderful story. Nobody remembers Weinbaum much these days. Hell, nobody remembered Weinbaum much 10 years after he died, which was decades before I was born. But I remember.

On a related note, thanks for the offer on Pirate's, M! That was stupendously wonderful of you and I shall have many Scotches tonight in your honour.

catie said...

It's funny because most of the books that have made my "keeper" shelf are not "the next BIG thing" novels, but rather mid to high mid-listers and unknowns. I'm with you Marie, 95% of the time I just want a damn good story and once a book *does* become the next BIG thing? I tend to avoid it for a while because (i.m.h.o.) the hype surrounding a book can cloud people's judgment.

I've read TONS of BIG novels and been sorely disappointed (*cough*l0velyb0nesanyone*cough*); so yeah, not sold on BIG over here.

PT Hammonds said...

For an agent, the next big thing translates to the next big commission. So I get that from his or her end. For me, the BIG novels don't always pull me in and perhaps the hype hurts. I just expect too much. I have favorite authors who I return to each time they put out a new title. Some I love, others leave me a little disappointed. But give me a good read that takes me out of the everyday, makes me stay up too late, and I'm happy. And usually I'll tell a friend or two and maybe that means that great book gets more sales. Never a bad thing.

J.K. Coi said...

One book that sticks with me--is actually a series.

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books struck a chord with me as soon as I picked up the first and turned that fresh first page. I devoured them and go back to the beginning and read them again at least once a year or so. (At six LOOOOOONG books, it's too hard to reread them any more than that.)

Ms. Gabaldon doesn't take the easy route in anything. She doesn't cheap out on that word count, and she doesn't show us her world through rose-coloured glasses. She paints it the way it is, even when it's ugly, and definitely when it's real

J.K. Coi said...

Oh, and I looked up your book Kaz...sounds wonderful!! Congratulations

Kaz Augustin said...

Thanks J.K.! :)