Writer’s Craft #128 – Beyond “Crack” Literature: Valuing Complexity in Entertainment
Your host, Lynda Williams, is the author of the Okal Rel Saga (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) and editor of the Okal Rel Legacies series (Absolute Xpress). She also works as Learning Technology Manager for Simon Fraser University and teaches an introductory web development course at BCIT. For a list of Okal Rel titles see: Lynda Williams on Amazon.com.
We’ve all been there, in the audience at a writer’s conference or at a blue pencil session, getting brow-beaten by the marketing mavens of the book trade who tell us:
* Make that first sentence so hot it’s irresistable.
* Connect your work to something famous that people recognize instantly.
* Summarize the whole thing in a sentence.
I hereby brand this phenomenon crack literature. Front load the bang. Ask nothing of your reader but the purchase.
My personal antedote this month is the wonderful review of Part 1: The Courtesan Prince, by Derek Newman-Stille on his blog, Speculating Canada.
Derek says: “The Courtesan Prince is a pedagogical text in the best sense of the word, not because it gives answers (as many think that teaching does), but because it asks questions, opens things to debate, and encourages readers to be uncomfortable with any easy answers.”
I’m proud of that.
* If someone buys my book, there’ll be something more for that reader beyond the first sentence. In fact, they might re-read the whole thing more than once.
* And while I recognize the need to speak in terms of connections to what is familiar, I’m proud of the Okal Rel Saga for being original. If that means readers have to do a little work up front, in the end the bang is so much bigger.
* As to summarizing the whole thing in one sentence, sure. Gene Roddenberry had to sell Star Trek as “Wagon Train to the Stars”. But let’s not allow ourselves, as writers, to forget the goal is to produce something worthwhile.
What do you think?