Dear Miss Snark,

While I am not a literary agent by profession, as a line editor and a sometime book reviewer, I read a lot of books. Although I try to view each book with a fresh eye, sometimes I find myself falling into the "Yadda, yadda, yadda, been there, done that" mindset.

I worry that I am not being fair to the author of the tenth romance or SF novel of any given batch, simply because I'm jaded from all those repetitive plots.
As a literary agent, I'm sure that you have a similar problem, since you have to read through piles of manuscripts to find good ones.

Can you give me any tips on how one can avoid the problem I've described?

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Yes, like eating a many-course dinners, sometimes you have to cleanse your palate. That's why I read a lot of other kinds of books. Chick lit on Friday night, a poem here and there, maybe a classic or two to retune my ear. Dickens, Nabokov, James Salter.

But I've also learned to trust my eye. If it feels old and tired, it probably is. Gifted writers can take hackneyed plot and freshen them up with vigorous story telling. The truest test of greatness is when it just shines through all the dreck. It's like watching everyone else skate, and then watching Torville and Dean. They blow everyone else right off the ice. Good writing will do that too, even if I've been reading crap all day.

1 comment:

kitty said...

GREAT question! I've wondered the same thing, especially during the last crapometer run. It's good to know that good writing will still shine through.