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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 08:28 pm (UTC)
Great points about the audience ridicule issue. Really, I've had students ask me why I sometimes will poke fun of Twilight. And I turn around and make sure they understand that I notice that, yes, folks who don't normally pick up a book are picking up Meyer and Brown or Patterson or whoever is a current flavor of the month. And that's a good thing--the reading. And when the relative non-readers tire of Meyer or Brown or Patterson, they'll most likely turn authors writing in similar veins.

I've even had fellow educators ask why I enjoy reading Louis L'Amour, and I respond with "Because he told a heckuva good story, and it's my Mountain Dew and bag of Cheetos."

So, there we go. I've applied that analogy to Meyer and Brown with students just to demonstrate to them that the books aren't necessarily junk food for the mind, but everybody likes their chosen soft drink and grab bag of chips/similar.

And although I haven't read much Koontz, what I have read I've enjoyed and chewed up in a few nights.

And as Clint mentions right below about crits of King, I'll jump on in with this: I think the guy can tell a story like there's no tomorrow, but as a *writer* I think his forte is with the short story and the novella as forms. Just my two cents.
Sep. 27th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
Nothing wrong with a Mountain Dew and bag of Cheetos! :)

Not to get off topic, but I bet you're a great teacher, man. You have a real passion for your subject matter. That's a good analogy.

Whoops! I misspelled L'Amour. There's no excuse for that after how many of his books I've read. I'm ashamed.

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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