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Why writers should leave Dan Brown alone

As you may or may not know, there’s a link to an article called ‘Dan Brown’s worst 20 sentences’ doing the rounds. Elsewhere, someone’s posted a Reader’s Guide (as in sarcastic commentary) to his latest book, The Lost Symbol, on their journal. I checked them both out, but you won’t get a link to either of those web pages from here.  


Honest criticism is one thing, but these two pieces aren’t looking to be helpful, they’re designed to encourage other people to make snide remarks and join in the laughter at Dan Brown’s expense. The ‘worst twenty sentences’ article tries to dress itself up as a serious critique, but one look at the title tells you the writer’s real intention.


According to the list, Dan Brown’s most heinous crime was choosing to call his novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’, because, as every smart person knows, Leonardo Da Vinci, actually means ‘Leonardo of Vinci’. 


So what? Before the book came out, if you’d asked just about anybody in the western world if they knew who ‘Da Vinci’ was, I guarantee you the vast majority would NOT have said, “Oh, hah, hah! You poor, cretinous fool, there’s no such person as OF Vinci.”    


I don’t understand why some people feel the need to play this ‘Bash the successful author, because we’re so clever and he’s so stupid’ game. If you don’t like a book, by all means say so, but the moment you invite others to join in with the public mockery, you’ve crossed the line as far as I’m concerned.


“Yeah, but he’s a famous author,” they, and a big chunk of their followers say. “He’s not supposed to write crappy sentences.”


Really?   Can any of us, with hand on heart, claim that we’ve never submitted something to an agent/editor/publisher that, when we look back on it later, didn’t contain a single ill-turned phrase? I know I can’t. 


Along with millions of others, I read The Da Vinci Code and enjoyed it. I also read Angels & Demons (which I preferred). I’m about sixty pages into The Lost Symbol, and so far, I like that too. 


If the people who try to pull other writers down spent more time trying to improve their own work, and less time demonstrating their complete lack of class to the rest of the world, maybe they’d have a better chance of ending up as successful as Dan Brown one day. Of course, before that can happen, they’d need to grow up. I hope they do.


What do you guys think?


Am I being unfair? Are famous authors fair game for ridicule, or should we focus on improving our own work?


As for me, I continue to pursue my dream of becoming a successful writer, derided for my lack of talent.  I'm already halfway there, now all I need is a best-seller.

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Sep. 26th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC)
Jon, I dig your mature approach to writers whom many consider to be dubious. I appreciate your viewpoint to say "give these folks a chance" and you are right, people love their work and buy it for a reason. Many of the same criticisms could be made about Stephen King and Jo Rowling's works too. I guess mileage varies. Personally, I don't like Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy either. But they make a living on what they do. I probably don't like more than I do. For the most part, I don't see the draw with Dan Brown, or the Celestine Prophesy, or any number of popular books. But until folks out there get better connections and get better publishing deals for "better" works, that's what's going to be the best sellers. So, instead of some awesome fantasy book out there, we'll get another Eragon book. Because of connections. Not so much how good something is. I can see why there is sour grapes, but who's fault is it? The readers who only know what books are out there from seeing them on the shelf, or the publishers who promote popular writers instead of no names? But sometimes the popular books are exactly what people want, and those book sales are showing where market trends are heading, rather than where they "ought" to go.
Sep. 26th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
My husband LOVES Cussler. I tease him mercilessly. But he's READING. It might be the equivalent of a James Bond movie, but what the hell? He loves them because, like McDonalds, you KNOW what you're getting before you open the bag--no matter what you've ordered. That's what a certain type of reader is looking for.
Sep. 26th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
I wonder how much of a difference word-of-mouth via the internet can and will make in future book sales.

Thanks for sharing :)

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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