Case # 1 : For the past 3 weeks I’ve been trying to make head or tails out of a young authoress’ book. It is a confounded mess; I really liked this lady’s short stories, but she’s one of those authors that really can’t make the transition to novel-lenght work. I’ve tried to read her book (I have the headache to prove it), but everytime I tackle 3 or 4 pages, the feeling of nausea is unbearable! The mythos behind the story is sloppily executed and is very heavy-handed. And the magic system has been directly lifted out from the Harry Potter’s series, with the couple of Pseudo-Latun words and all. And some sequences involving magic creatures triggered a strong reminiscence of the Xanth novels. She probably thought she had a story to tell, and started to eclectically slap together pieces of other books. This isn’t a book: it’s a Frankenstein’s Monster. No imagination at all.
Case # 2 : A couple unwittingly crosses a magic portal and steps into an alternate magic world. Shades of Narnia’s magic wardrobe here. There they discover they’re the saviours of prophecy and that they possess magical powers. Typical fantasy staple. Even worse yet, everytime the author introduces a magic item to the reader, he praises its woundrous quality in a manner that the book has turned into a 20 pages-long infomercial. See the Magical Thingimagick of Bob! Press this button and it will blast your enemies! Push here and it will teleport you to safety! It slices! It dices! It makes Julianne Fries! (Operators standing by; all magical credit cards accepted).
Case # 3 : A young kid discovers that the members of his family are the appointed defenders of the Earth and Humanity (you can almost hear the Capital Letters while reading this book). Sounds interesting until you start to realize it’s only Harry Potter in Space. Meh. Ah! And with all the futuristic space gadgets thrown at the reader, it also suffers a strong dose of the Infomercial Syndrome.
Case # 4 : A post-apocalyptic novel in which everyone on the face of Earth (save a family and a few survivor) dies. There’s no feeling of tension and the most threatened I felt was when the protagonist met a pack of dogs gone wild. Then he continued with his survival shopping list. The book bore me to tears. And the end, when the protagonist meets the aliens responsible for Mankind’s Demise, becomes a preachy morass. Ack! Even worse, this craptacular thing is raking dozens of glowing 5-star reviews and has even won a prize.
What seems the problem here? All these works share a common malady: a total lack of imagination. Ok, I know there are only a set of limited plots available to authors to work on, but the main concept of being a writer (and artists in general) is to find a new slant to things and present it to the public in a new and interesting way. All these books fail miserably at the task.
I know it’s hard to work with these limitations, but a creator’s minds must churn a concept for years before finally putting a pen to paper. Does it have merit? Or am I only reheating something already done, like some sort of literary leftover? If after years of thinking it over, the idea is workable, then a writer must take a literary sledgehammer to it and smash the silly thing with it until it becomes totally unrecognizable.
Remember, I’m the guy who once improved the “Boy-meets-Girl-but-Girl-finds-him-Obnoxious-until-he-does-something-nice-for-her” by slapping on it the corollary about he having a previous commitment with an Orangutan.
(WHAT ARE YOU THINKING¡?¡?¡ You PERVERT, You!)
Maybe… maybe then, you’ll have a working concept. So forget about writing the next Harry Potter (your work will never be it), forget all about magic portals and alternate worlds (though I’d love to read a novel whose alternate world is reached by means of a magical toilet), and try to scare me with something better than a pack of wild dogs, chums… Try to show me some more imagination next time !
Did you enjoy this silly rambling? Go out there and buy yourselves a copy of my second novel, Eco Station One, and you’ll get 260 pages of stuff like this.
Edwin Stark Signing off.