A friend once said that a person should "speak like you want to be written about." Something clever, profound or witty enough that would make a person want to immortalize it forever. I could quote that friend all day. She speaks like she should be written about. Nothing trite, cliche, or overrated – she was a natural at it.
It seems that there are people out there who try too hard. They try too hard to be witty and clever. It is forced, stilted and stale like month old bread. Not necessarily only in speech, writers too fall prey to this as well. They strive for the stars, for writing something that will be remembered, that will leave echoes. Unfortunately, some of those efforts don’t make it off the ground. Trite and overdone, like acting when you can tell an actor is acting. It ruins writing that has potential.
Not every writer falls prey to such fallacy, but there is a lot of writing out there that could have been something, but has amounted to nothing (by nothing, I don’t mean to say they are unpopular – look at the Twilight series). Some of these books have become quite popular. They sell, and many sell well. But, they lack something. I have found, the more I read, the less and less patience I have with books and authors. Books, that I once loved, I cannot stand anymore. I have realized just how overdone and cliche they have become, how authors had a chance to take it to the next level and fell flat into redundancy, absurdity, and taking the plot off in a direction that will irritate.
Yikes. I am heading into literary snobville. But, I at least don’t believe that genre writing isn’t literature. It is literature, some of it even great literature, like Dune by Frank Herbert. However, reading Rowling, Austen, Dickens, Eliot, and Poe enough can help ruin liking newer books.
There is indeed a major difference between literature and pop fiction. Some popular books, i.e. Harry Potter, are well-written and original enough to make them good reads, not just overdone fluff. Like romance novels. Absurd plots (absurd in how much they have done before and the deliberate grief and misunderstandings – too much soap opera-ness), annoying characters that a person honestly can’t sympathize with.
Literary fluff has its uses, just like completely stupid movies with no basis in reality or plot. It is for enjoyment and entertainment. Something to watch/read without really caring what it’s about nor remembering anything afterwards. Harsh – probably. I know Twilight will probably never be considered fluff in the fact it’s popular and the teens and tweens just love it – I can’t really understand that. They are readable, but not truthfully "good."
A Series of Unfortunate Events by "Lemony Snicket" is something new, experimental and actually works well. The writer of the series strove to be witty and clever an actually succeeded without being overdone and trite. Nothing formulaic or overdone, like these vampire huntress novels out there. *shudders* There are way too many of those books. One author actually admitted that there hasn’t been a plot in her books for a long time – how tragic!
I want to be a better writer than that. Unfortunately, I am not doing so well in that department. The more I read, the more I realize how much I have to learn. But that’s the great thing. Learning. Some people will probably never be able to write well or speak cleverly – but that’s fine. Those vocations are definitely not everything – be good at what you like.
So, write, speak like you want to be written about. Do your best, but don’t try too hard – it is a shame to over-do something and end up with month-old stale bread.