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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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Comments

bosleygravel
Sep. 26th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
I think the harsh criticism is case of sour grapes in most cases ... I haven't really read Meyers or Brown, don't really have the inclination too, so I can't comment as a writer on the quality of their prose. As a reader I can say both of those authors seem like they are basically writing screenplays in book form. Hollywood loves the 'high-concept because it sells, it sells because people want it. And that makes it a hot product because advertisers can sell their stuff ... it's commercial fiction from inception ... if that doesn't suit you as an author or a reader, project Gutenberg has 300 years worth of English prose for free. :D

Seems to me that neither author has an understanding with their reader that says "I'm going to write some beautiful prose and have intriguing characters interact in thoughtful ways,", more like "I'm writing a fast paced, easy to read, simple to visualize story that will be a movie in about a year."

So I think criticizing them as if they had somehow implied the the former is kind of a waste of time. I will say, in some ways, we are lucky that these big commercial names are keeping books in the public eye.

Hehe, sorry to ramble, I have way too much free time on Saturdays. :)
jongibbs
Sep. 26th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
'...I have way too much free time on Saturdays...'

Make the most of it while you can. Once that baby comes... ;)

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