Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sod Originality!

Okay, that may be a bit harsh, but when I'm reading, I don't want experimental, I don't want off-the-wall, I like my tropes, my clichés and I hug them happily to my bosom. Which is why I don't tend to read magazines that post lists of stuff 'they've seen too many times' and why every time I'll pick up the book about the lonely superhero (substitute here vampire, ghost, werewolf, alien, cyborg - you get the picture :) ) struggling to come to terms with his/her situation over the one about the transcendental experience of a human communicating with a jellyfish from the point of view of the jellyfish! I have my bullet-proof kinks (substitute plot, trope, cliché) and I actually like reading different takes on said kinks.

Note the word different in my last sentence, which is why I was being rather too blasé when I said sod originality, because, yeah, I don't want to read exactly the same thing over and over again. If you write me vampires, give me your take on vampires, be they sparkly, psychopathic or plain mysterious, I will give most of them a try, since I have a thing for vampires, but I don't want Dracula or Twilight all over again, KTHX. :) The same applies to any trope, cliché or situation that falls into my bucket of favourite things to read. Surprise me with the pieces that make up the whole: your writing style; the character nuances; the plot twists; and yes, even the dream sequences (I'm not averse to a well-done dream sequence, take note, publishers :P). But when you put all those pieces together, I want a whole that makes sense, that takes me on a complete journey, a traditional, literary journey. I do not want to be stranded in some experimental field halfway between the start and the end of the book just to make it different - I get grumpy when someone tries too hard to be that different.

Some people out there may dismiss me, thinking that I must live in a very boring reading world if I will never try anything different, but you see, I do, every time I pick up a book. I firmly believe, along with David Grigg, whose original post on G+ got me thinking about this, that every writer can and should bring their own take to any story and that is what interests me, the angle, not the subject. I know what subjects I like, so I am disappointed when editors/agents etc, will throw something out because it is something that they've 'seen too much of' - that may be so, but the reading public likes new takes on old stories, otherwise why would all these people be rewriting fairytales at the moment? (Aside - to be fair, I don't disagree with the entire list that David refers to in his post from Strange Horizons, because some of the items are explained enough to make it plain that what they object to is unoriginal writing, or writing that doesn't progress, not necessarily the trope itself).

So, I suppose my message to any writer out there I may start reading is don't try too hard to be original, well, not for me anyway. I like the traditional shape of stories. I like feeling safe with an author whom I know isn't going to suddenly throw my reading journey to the wolves of different. Yes, I like surprises, but don't make them too big :P.

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