Thursday, June 24, 2010

Me-too vs. Something New

Reading thuRsday

I finished a recently published YA paranormal and was underwhelmed. The twist I thought I saw coming never materialized and instead I was left with a me-too after taste. It's not that the book was bad--far from it. It's that the story followed well-trodden paths and felt like more of the same.

In contrast, I also recently read The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkoski. The world, the magic, and the characters all felt fresh. It's a charming story whose Bohemian setting and sensibility take you off the beaten path.

Moonrat, the blogging editorial assistant,  posted a recent note about Laura Miller's "The Magician's Book." She wrote:
"Laura Miller says that, for us, you know, us kids who read constantly and obsessively when we were kids, we've spent our entire lives trying, like Lucy, to resuscitate that feeling of total immersion we felt when we read our Magician's Books when we were kids. We read things and like or enjoy them based on to what degree they can recall that ancient, complete escapism"
As a reader, I love the idea of "comfort" books--books we go back to again and again because they've become old friends.

As writers, I think we need to take care that we're producing something new instead of a "me-too." There's nothing wrong with loving a book and wanting to do something like it, but before you take the trouble to draft an entire novel, ask yourself whether you have something to add to the conversation.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

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