So you can read my books

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WHERE'S THE FUN? Insecure Writer's Support

Stina Lidenblatt:

wrote an interesting post with this title -- but she was writing where the fun has gone for us as writers.

VR Barkowski:

wrote an interesting post Monday that contained a riveting snippet from her eight page torture scene from her new novel, BLOOD UNDER WILL.

Diana Krall who felt uncomfortable with using her image to sell her albums was "convinced" to pose for her new album like this:

The Studio Execs felt another shot was needed:

50 SHADES OF GREY has breathed new life into S&M bondage novels.

My own Monday post had this photo which says it all on today's world:


I remember when entertainment was fun.

STAR WARS wowed the movie audience because it was epic fun.  There was danger, loss, but most of all ... fun.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK evoked the angst and drama of a good Greek tragedy, but there was still echoes of fun.

RETURN OF THE JEDI was a re-working of the first movie -- which worked as a bracket for the trilogy.

The next trilogy seemed to lose its way ... as many of the novels of today seem to have lost their way.

But IN COLD BLOOD and THE GODFATHER were bestsellers long ago so reveling in violence and brutality is not a new occurance.

Is it that what culture sees as "Fun" has changed?  What do you think?

Do you read for "fun?"  If so, what novel last made you glad you bought it?

Do long descriptions of violence, torture, and cruelty entertain you?

In PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS by Richard Lloyd Parry

This sentence is on page three:

"Exhausted tubes of toothpaste curl on the edges of the sink, sodden lumps of soap drool in the floor of the shower."

The second sentence in Gail Jones's novel FIVE BELLS is:

"Before she saw the bowl of bright water, swelling like something sexual, before she saw the blue, unprecedented, and the clear sky sloping upwards, she knew from the lilted words it would be a circle like no other, key to a new world."

Professional reviewers described Ms. Jones's prose as "intensely lyrical" and "poetic."

But where's the fun?

I read Robert B. Parker's Spenser series because, despite the grimness of the murders, the dialogue was fun, the friendship between Spenser and Hawk solid, and the love between Spenser and Susan uplifting

(except for the "Wounded Spenser" novels but even they were revealing of what it meant to be a whole human being.) 

Roger H. Garrison, author of HOW A WRITER WORKS, described bad writers as those who fall victim to the

"tides of phony, posturing, pretentious, tired, imprecise slovenly language, which both suffocate and corrupt the mind."

That's a good start, but I'd add repetitious, smug and disrespectful of the readers' time.

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, among other Oxford literati, reportedly held contests to see who could read Amanda McKittrick Ros' work longest without breaking into guffaws.

Consider this sentence from her:

"Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue."

Well, imagining C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien manly struggling to keep their faces straight while reading that line aloud IS FUN.  :-)

Some readers don't care how a story is written as long as it's comprehensible and keeps them turning pages—


Responding to a question about TWILIGHT on a Yahoo Answers page, a reader wrote,

 "I never quit reading a book because I think the style of writing is bad. It may not be bad, just different from what I'm used to. Focus on the story more than the writing style."

The mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers wrote:

"The most intricate plot ever woven will never carry bad writing. But good writing will often carry a thin plot, and really inspired writing will carry almost anything."

What do you think?

Don't forget WORDS CRAFTER reviewing my audio book today on:


Coming June 18th






  1. Its been a long time since I read a book for "fun". But yes, that word can have multiple meanings. I'm not interested in comedy, but I like humor; and a category romance or chic lit will turn me off, but I like romance in a story and a quirky female MC will make me smile.

    I used to read to be transported somewhere else - dark and creepy, exploring technology, finding some magic, or exploring philosophy/religion in an alternate universe. I consider this entertainment.

    Lately, I read books that intrigue me with the intent of writing a review. And upon occasion I find the novel/story pure fun/entertainment. The latest one that tickled my funny bone with a true sense of "fun" was Cate Masters DEATH IS A BITCH. I had so much fun reading it I forgot it was supposed to be work :)

    Now that I've finished all that, not sure it answered your question about what is "fun" in reading. Sorry, its late, I should be in bed.


  2. Still working on the really inspired writing.
    I like something thought-provoking and deep now and then, but I mostly read for fun. (And I write for fun.)

  3. Donna:
    Reading your reply, I think of how grim it must be for movie critics who have to endure movies rather than watching them for entertainment.

    To be transported to a place I would like to be is one great reason to read. I am lucky. I read for fun all the time. Thanks for such an insightful reply. :-)


    Like you, I both read and write for fun -- with a little reflection thrown in for good measure. :-)

  4. I think the 50 Shades series was a lot of fun, actually. My favorite original Star Wars is Return of the Jedi not so much because of the fun factor but because of the redemption involved in the father-son relationship. I think I enjoy books that make me cry more than those that make me laugh...but my favorite books are those that do both!

  5. I personally think the indication of good writing is when you don't notice it -- when you can stay in the story and not be distracted or thrown off by writing that either tries too hard or is just plain awful.

    I think dark reading can be fun, but it MUST have humor and lightness mixed in.

  6. A provocative post. I like it. As a rule, I read for enjoyment. Which equals fun. As for which books that applies to, well, I have to break it down. In my next post, which you've just given me :) Thanks for that!

  7. Thanks for the shout-out, Roland. :)

    To quote one of my characters, the idea of violence as fun is seriously messed-up. Don't get me started on video games, 50 Shades, or Quentin Tarantino films. But then I don't think entertainment and fun are synonymous. Some books are meant to entertain the mind, others the soul. Not that those reads can't be "fun" in the traditional, subjective sense of the word, but that's not their primary goal.

    Do long descriptions of violence, torture, and cruelty entertain me? Absolutely not. But if the violence is there for any reason other than truth on the page, then it's gratuitous and should be excised.

    I occasionally read Stephen King for "fun." He's a great storyteller, but I personally feel his books would be much stronger without the graphic violence. Yes, there's usually humor to offset the darkness, but you know, there's a real danger in trying to countermand gratuitous violence with a laugh. It doesn't work.

    Re: the quote by Sayers. While I agree that "really inspired writing will carry almost anything." Inspired writing rarely sees publication these days, at least in terms of trad pub. Sayers wrote in the early 20th C. It was a very different time.

    VR Barkowski