Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reader fatigue

My husband and I took a trip to Borders on Monday night because he had a coupon which essentially boiled down to buy one book, get one free.

A free book! Imagine the possibilities! Would I pick out a historical, a mystery, a paranormal romance? Well, at that moment the world was my oyster. He went to the sci-fi section while I browsed the shelves of romance offerings.

And I promptly became bored, screeching to a halt, I've so already read that bored.

All the rows of compellingly beautiful cover art on the paranormals, while some reeled me in, as soon as I read the blurbs I realized I’d read all those twists and turns before and oh lord do I have the stomach for yet another vampire book? Same thing with the historical romances. Gorgeous, half-dressed men, but every guy is titled, there’s an issue with the girl and oh look they get together and live happily ever after. Blah, blah, blah. Forlorn, I headed over to my beloved mystery section, hoping against hope there was something different.

There wasn’t.

All the heroes are cops or former cops, all the heroines are nosy busy bodies who don’t really want to get involved but solve the cozy mystery anyway.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure all of these books are perfectly lovely and some writer took the time to finish the book and had the guts to send it out to agents and editors. We know the drill. However, this is my complaint: for the love of God, do something different!

I’ll be the first to admit, coming up with original takes on plots is tough. It’s hard work and sometimes a writer will fall back on the tried and true because it’s easy and familiar. Who hasn’t done this a time or two? But as a reader—heck as a writer—I’m getting real tired of seeing twenty books that are essentially the same.

Maybe it’s a fatal flaw in the New York model. They scream they want different—yet not that different because they might not be able to market it. They yell they want to take chance on new talent—yet not someone real new because they might have out-of-the-box ideas they might not know what to do with. They clamor for new plots—yet not too “out there” because the reader might have to think too much.

I don’t know about you but I’ve never followed the herd or have done what everyone else is doing because it’s comfortable or cozy. I don’t intend to start now.

I want NEW. I want DIFFERENT. I want to finish a book and say wow, that was great or you just don’t see that anymore.

As a reader, I want to be engaged, so wrapped up in a fresh new plot twist or new take on the norm that as a writer, I’ll be jealous I didn’t think of it first. Dazzle me. Dangle that proverbial carrot in front of me that will make me absolutely need to buy your next book.

As a writer, I’m constantly striving to write original things and put such a different spin on things that a reader will say it’s a unique and welcome take. The result? Sometimes I’m a difficult-to-place author LOL The payoff? Huge because the content isn’t the same as a lot of writers. Readers say hmm, I wonder what else she can do.

What did I end up getting at Borders as my free book? A historical romance featuring pirates (I already have 3 just like it in paperback form and 4 more on my e-reader) Yup, I know but I’m hoping from the blurb it’ll be different… If not chances are this book will end up on Paperback Swap.

Pretty bad, huh?

So, the question of the day is this: what plot line/character mixes are you tired of seeing out there? What is something you’d be interested in reading about in future books?


D L Jackson said...

Vampires, weres and any novel that takes place on a space ship where the hero or heroine is the captain and the story remains on the ship. Sci fi doesn't mean it has to stay on a ship, dear authors.

Historicals where every hero or heroine is titled, as Sandra mentioned.

Time travel where the heroine bumps her head and ends up in another place or steps into a fairy ring and is transported to another time.

Space pirates, space warlords...
Anyone fighting or slaying vampires, dragons and demons.

Westerns where the hero is a gunslinger. Westerns where the hero or heroine are ranch owners. Why not have a romance between a train robber and a whore and not give them an excuse for being bad. Just make them bad?

Give me a cowboy on another world, raising his version of stock and fighting a different kind of outlaw. Give me your version of the Crocidile Hunter on another planet, who captures alien creatures for off-world zoos. Give me Historicals on a different planet or take me to a different time. Rome, Greece, Egypt, Sumer,China or British occupied India. Mix Steampunk and Robinhood, but please give me something I haven't sank my teeth into already and you'll have a new fan.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks DL On my docket in the historical dept for next year are stories in Egypt (well I'll write that in December of this year) and India for next year :-)

Annie Nicholas said...

Where the damsel is sweet and kind and beautiful yet no man has ever loved her. Get real.

Give me a heroine who wakes up in the morning and gives the hero a fright.

It's not so much the plot but the characters that I get tired of. The tough alpha male who claims the heroine even when she hates him.

I'd love to read a story about the single soccer mom struggling to make ends meet who's attracted to her child's single coach. You know, something in the real world yet written with amazing style and depth.

And I agree with what you said about NY.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Annie. That's exactly why I like making characters real. :-)

Clare Dargin said...

You know what they say, there really isn't anything new under the sun... but I guess it's how we as writers choose to engage the subject matter that makes a difference. As a reader, if the characters aren't engaging where we begin to identify and feel for them and if the story doesn't draw us in we're stuck feeling like observers looking from the outside in and after awhile it can be boring.
Something we all have to be on the look out for.