Michael Krüger, publisher at Carl Hanser Verlag in Munich, recently bemoaned the number of bad books out there. He explained that they are present in such numbers because they sell…and he can’t figure out why.
Let’s put aside judging whole categories as bad and focus on the real issues.
First, it’s about story. The MFA programs have been hammered because they churn out writers who focus on the florid beauty of their words at the expense of their characters. Thus no story. Without story, a book is just a jumble of words.
Second, it’s about story. Readers are willing to buy even poorly written books because the story tells them something they can’t find elsewhere. Look at 50 Shades…panned everywhere for awful prose yet sold oodles of copies because the storyline contained something women wanted to read about.
Third, it’s about storytelling. Bad books might be poorly written or have worn-out plotlines yet they clip along at a fast pace (nearly always, anyway). So storytelling, getting to the heart of the matter through action and forward movement, is present in a way that might not be as obvious in a pretty MFA grad’s work.
What’s YOUR story?