I’m still trying to finish my third book (yeah, yeah, I know). Hope to finish it tonight. I’m in the last few pages and things are looking good, but you never know. So I’m once again taking the lazy route and throwing down some random b.s. for folks to chew on:
DO YOU LIKE WHAT YOU WRITE?
William Goldman claims to hate his own work. Says he never thinks it’s any good.
Anyone who has read Goldman knows he’s delusional in that regard. And it’s no secret that I think he’s a brilliant writer.
A few years back, I was working as a staff writer on an animated television show called DIABOLIK (Hey, it was a hit in France!), and was partnered up with a very talented writer/producer who quickly became a good friend.
One day, as he and I were riding in his F150 along the bumpy road leading to his ranch, he told me that of all the writers he knows, the ones who think they’re good, the ones who love their own work, usually stink. And the ones who believe — like Goldman — that they’re mediocre or worse, are usually great.
I didn’t respond. Was he trying to tell me something?
I don’t generally brag about the quality of my work, but I have always taken great pride in my writing. Like anyone else, I bounce back and forth between loving it and loathing it — at least when I’m working on a project — but I generally think I’m a damn good writer.
I’ve told the story before about the friend who thought he’d written a masterpiece that turned out to be one of the worst things I’ve ever read.
But I think most of us have to have a certain confidence in our work. Otherwise, why on earth would we keep writing?
And I tend to think that Goldman secretly knows he’s a heckuva writer.
So was my producer friend wrong? Or are those of us who believe we may have something special a victim of our own egos?
DO YOU READ THE LABEL?
Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Thrillers, Mysteries…
I see all these labels and wonder what they really mean. Take Romantic Suspense, for example. It seems to indicate that you’re about to read a romance novel with an underlying thriller plot. Yet I’ve read a number of Romantic Suspense novels that put the romance on the back burner.
I’ve also written a thriller that has a romance in it. True, the romance is a minor part of the story, but it’s there and I think it works and LIKE the fact that it’s there. It gives the book an extra little kick. So have I written Romantic Suspense? If I went under the name Roberta Browne, do you think the publishers would use that label?
Then there are the mysteries that have a touch of thriller in them and the thrillers that have a touch of mystery. What do we label them?
I understand the need for some kind of label. Readers want to be able to head straight to their favorite section of the book store and find what they’re looking for. But since there often doesn’t seem to be any particular rhyme or reason for these “sub” labels, I’m not quite sure why publishers bother.
Isn’t it a mistake to market a book as, again, Romantic Suspense, filling readers with certain expectations, only to let them down when the book strays from the conventions of the genre?
How many times have you seen a movie advertised as a flat-out comedy, only to discover that it’s a drama with comedy overtones? How many times have you seen trailers feature a specific plotline that turns out to be a minor part of the story, and the movie is not even close to what you expected when you bought your ticket.
But maybe that’s what it boils down to: you’ve already bought your ticket. You’ve already paid for the book.
I think, however, that this kind of deception is not only misleading to the reader, but a disservice to the writer. Imagine the number of fans who might be turned off to a writer simply because he or she didn’t deliver what the label on the spine of the book promised?
Or maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I’m no marketing expert.
What do you more seasoned writers in the crowd think?
DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE NAMING NAMES?
I have a helluva time naming names. I sit for hours trying to come up with names that suit my characters and, I’ll tell you, it never fails that I wind up changing them.
And I’m never fully satisfied with the ones I settle on.
I always worry that they’re too generic. But at the same time, straying too far in the other direction gets a little silly.
John Sandford, who happens to be one of my favorite crime writers, goes a little overboard with his character names. Lucas Davenport is wonderful, but he’s had a number that momentarily threw me out of the story. Doesn’t ever hurt the story for me, but it does give me pause.
And I don’t hear anyone else complaining.
Like anyone else, I keep a baby names book at my desk. I also check the phone book a lot, looking for interesting surnames. But, like I said, I usually wind up with something that sounds a bit generic. They grow on me after awhile, but, still, I worry.
When I was wading through my email this morning, I came across an interesting source for names:
Yes, that’s right. Maybe spam is good for something after all. Have you ever looked at some of the names they use on email spam? Here’s a sampling of this morning’s:
Bringing L. Strengthen
Harems H. Hewett
Now those are NAMES. Not a generic one in the bunch. Most of them accompanied by promises of penis enlargement and endless erections.
So I no longer have to worry. If I’m stuck for that perfect character moniker, all I have to do is open up my spam folder. Easy as Tommy McPie.
What about you? How do you name names?
DO YOU EVER HOLD CONTESTS AND FORGET TO DECLARE A WINNER?
It has come to my attention that I held a caption writing contest awhile back and never picked a winner. I blame it on age. Or drugs. Take your choice.
Anyway, the winner of the caption contest with WHITE MEN CAN JUMP, is Naomi Hirahara. Congratulations Naomi. I don’t remember what you won, but as long as it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg, you’ll get it soon.