4.26.2006

Staying Power

Dear Miss Snark,

On April 17, you posted an entry called "Yes, some of it's dreck, but no matter," about clich├ęd plots. In that entry, you said, "I actually just read a very fresh and original voiced work that I passed on cause the novel itself didn't hold together for me."

I'm not sure what that means. Can you explain it a little more fully, please? (I get the "fresh and original voiced" part, LOL; it's the "novel didn't hold together" part I don't understand.)


Without commenting on the actual book, I can say that the plot was weak. It was sort of like being a in a conversation with a really good looking guy; you're so caught up in his yumminess it takes a while to dawn on you that he's not too bright.

I have learned to never put the book down after the first read and call up the author to beg them to sign. I wait a week and read it again. Then we talk.

I have novels here that each time I read them for a re-write or editorial changes or something, I'm reminded how good they are. That's one of the things I really look for: staying power. Do you want to read it when you know what happens.

6 comments:

McKoala said...

I went out with that guy!

archer said...

"Re-readable even though you know how it comes out" is very high bar--my list would at the very least include All the King's Men, Bonfire of the Vanities, Cuckoo's Nest, Goodbye, Columbus, and The First Circle. On the other hand I can't think of a single book by Stephen King that I'd read twice, but I love his stuff anyway, and I'm certain you'd feel silly to have rejected Carrie, back when.

Besides, didn't you ever say to yourself, Okay, he's not Einstein, but I don't care?

Writers' Block said...

I love this as an acid test of submit-ability.

When I re-read Charles McCarry's Christopher novels, or Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel novels, I'm not really re-reading. I'm re-visiting friends in the old neighborhood.

Now, anyone got any advice about how to see that quality in your own characters? I don't mean 'how to write characters,' I mean, how do you re-strangify your own stuff, so you can see it more like others see it?

Brian said...

I like the "talking to a good looking guy" analogy. So, basically, your policy of waiting a week for a re-read is your attempt to avoid a literary coyote ugly mistake?

Pepper Smith said...

Mahican, that takes a good stretch of time. You really have to give it long enough that you no longer remember the words you used to write the story. For me, that takes about two years. Not that most of us have the patience to wait that long. I generally don't.

One Girl's Opinion said...

Part of the test is if the particular agent would re-read it. Because Miss Snark has said repeatedly that a big part of her job is to find works she is passionate about selling.

So while one agent might read "Carrie" once and never again, another might read it over and over, sleep with it under thier pillow, dog ear all the pages, and know half of it by heart.

So much of the business of writing is purely subjective, I am learning.