Sunday, August 15, 2010

Times, they are a changin'

Day after tomorrow I'll be taking my daughter to the airport, where she'll board a plane for Phoenix with very little by way of plan once she arrives. My brother is at least going to pick her up and let her stay with him for a week or two while she looks for an apartment and/or roommates. And she won't listen to anyone who tries to talk her out of this.

At her age, I was much the same. Sometimes, I still am willing to take that blind leap of faith with no net. BUT, I'm her mother, so that's different. :) I'm also currently, as she would put it, "tweaking out" badly. My nerves are shot.

Meanwhile, to take my mind off this, I read an old Kathleen E. Woodiwiss novel the other day, and realized about three pages into it, that it would never have been accepted for publication today. Editors and agents would have passed immediately without reading beyond the first couple of pages due to all the head-hopping, impossible point of view sentences, and info dumps. The book was published in 1982, and in the 70's and 80's, Ms. Woodiwiss's books were always best sellers.

I did find the story hard to follow sometimes because of the same-sentence point of view shifts, and can see why that became a major no-no. But other times the head hopping actually added a bit for me when it kept the pace moving, rather than having to start another lengthy bit with another character's POV. I just found it ironic that a best seller from twenty years ago would not get very far if the first few chapters were submitted to an agent or editor today.

I wonder how things will change over the next two decades? Any thoughts?


  1. It's hot in Phoenix now! I hope your daughter finds a place to live and a job.

    I stopped reading KW after her first few books. I've gone back to read old Anne McCaffrey, Dick Francis, and Georgette Heyer books and still loved them. Some other favorites, too. But they were good writers from the beginning.

    I can think of one hugely popular YA writer who writes badly. I'm sure her books will get the same reaction in 20 years.

  2. It is REALLY hot in Phoenix right now! But honestly... if I have one regret about my twenties, it's that I didn't take chances, upturn my life more. There isn't a better time in her life for her to take chances and make mistakes than now.

    Very scary for mom, yes. *hugs* But really... you'd rather her do it now than at 36, right? LOL!

  3. I don't know. Did you read the Da Vinci code? Lots of info dumps and all kinds of other things taht don't normally constitute good writing.

  4. Charles mentions Dan Brown...Angels & Demons, DaVinci Code, and The Lost Symbol were 3 of the first 4 books I read on my new Kindle. Mr Brown is a practitioner of the POV-hop, which I don't necessarily mind as long as the breaks are consistent and don't completely lose me or throw me out of the story.

    However, I did notice that the Kindle format can often make those POV switches difficult to notice until you suddenly find yourself in another character's head.

    As to your question, my opinion is that good writing will always be good writing and not really subject to fads. Or perhaps I should say it this way...good writing is good writing and will be able to swing through each fad without the quality suffering.

  5. I think the trend of starting novels with explosive action will some day fade and anyone who attempts it will be labeled a hack. I also think there might be some kind of first-person POV backlash, at least in the fantasy genre.

    It's like fashion--whatever's in right now will most certainly be out sometime in the future. Literature may not change as quickly as fashion, but it will shift.

  6. Considering the way things are going now, I don't want to think 2 decades ahead. I fear for my nephews & am glad I opted out of having kids, myself.

  7. I'm with Avery, which is also why I think this business is so subjective that ANYONE can be a bestseller these days.

  8. Edie - No doubt there are many writers right now who will get that reaction in 20 years. :)

    Natasha - Thanks, Natasha. She found some roommates and has started school, but she call me crying exactly one week after she left, saying she wanted to come home. Now, two days later, she seems ok again.

    Charles - I agree with you Charles. There were a few instances of such over-the-top purple prose in that book that I laughed out loud, even though they weren't supposed to be funny. :)

    Travis - I agree with you that as long as the POV switch doesn't pull me out, I can handle it. But when it does, I can see why it's considered a no-no.

    Avery - I've wondered about that, too - the starting in the middle of the action bit. But I can't help but think that's because we've all pretty much become a little (or a lot) ADD with the digital age.

    Lana - Be very glad. :)

    Marcia - True. And good luck with your new book! :)


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