Taking A Break

February 24th, 2005 · 1 Comment
by Booksquare

As we promised ourselves, we have spent the afternoon feverishly hacking. One should never underestimate the fun involved with taking a scene and completely rewriting it. Except for that one bit of really funny dialogue. It is amazing how even the most ruthless moments are felled by sentimental attachment to one’s witticisms*.

We were struck by this interesting (and not just because The Herald has one of the more obscure web designs going on) take on reviewing romance novels (British romances) on the same terms as literary novels. As we recently made the argument that romance will not grow without serious, critical reviews, we were interested. Alas, the author rapidly concluded, on rather flimsy premise, that it wasn’t a worthwhile endeavor. Rather than accepting that all genre fiction requires structure (may we once again point at that a mystery novel that leaves the reader hanging at the end will not be considered a successful mystery?), she sees this as a limitation.

We could remind her that many great writing forms have structure. Sonnets. Haiku. Genre fiction. Fairy tales. Myths. But we won’t. It is, after all, what you do with your seventeen syllables that makes all the difference in the world. Call it formula if you wish, but the bottom line is that what keeps readers coming back is that good authors makes the most of their structure.

In our mind, only mystery and crime fiction is embracing truly critical reviewing. This pushes authors to work harder, to tighten plots, to push boundaries. Rosemary Goring’s review of The Journey by Josephine Cox suggests this is a book that takes the easy way out. The author, resting on years of comfortable sales and devoted readers, appears to have made peace with her own formula of writing (not to be confused with formula in genre). Other authors, seeing this success, are apt to become lazy as well, and soon sales will decline. Readers, even those readers who enjoy their comfort zones, grow easily bored.

If their fiction of choice does not satisfy, they will go looking elsewhere. And this is why fangirl** reviews should not be tolerated by any type of fiction. Ego strokes are nice, but they don’t make one a better writer. (via Moorish Girl)

* – Knowing, of course, that the only person who truly finds us funny is the mother, and that is due to some weird contract she was forced to sign at our birth.

** – We have appropriated this term. For our purposes, it applies to any gender.

File Under: Books/Mags/Blogs

1 response so far ↓

  • kate // Feb 25, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    no, we’re laughing with you, BC, really.

    Bronwyn Parry slammed doors and ranted in her blog about this article but for a different reason. . .