I love tackling books written prior to the 1940's. They wrote in a different voice - if that makes any sense at all.


Sadly, I realized that over the years authors have scaled down their depth and their writing styles to accomodate readers. Detailed descriptions of landscapes and well-worded emotional expressions used to form part of our vernacular. Now the echoing blast from a gun gets broken down to mili-seconds and stripped into words - which the editors eventually scratch out.


Do we no longer credit readers with brains? Or has illiteracy ratings guided us to a more depraved grammar in order to make our stories more readable? Or has self-publishing opened the door for writers who would normally not have made it to the shelf?


James Fouche

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Nope.  I stick to smart readers who don't get thrown by the sort of stuff that doesn't seem to bother us smart writers.


This may account for my low sales.

Umm, I'll have to be more precise it seems.  Watching TV takes less brain activity than reading a book. Now, if you make the show intellectual, then you're going to lose a large portion of the audience who is there to be entertained.  Most TV shows lean heavily on suspense, violence, or pure entertainment.

Books are always more challenging, but there again the range is huge, even in genre writing like mystery, the range is enormous. Some readers like their stories told simply, others like more of a challenge.  Some people actually read to learn new words. Other people reject anything with a foreign name in it.

I keep saying, readers are very different.

What possible reason could there be to write crime fiction other than to entertain?


Most crime novels lean heavily on suspense and violence.

This is crime fiction section, right?  People looking for education and class appeal don't turn to crime novels.


Watching TV, by the way, might take more "brain activity" than reading.  Maybe there are studies somewhere to back that up?

But that doesn't mean it takes less intelligence.  The idea that the brain would be less challenged watching House or X-Files or even the jillion CSI shows than in reading a Twilight novel is peculiar.

I'm not sure what the point of this whole TV thing is.  I write for TV sometimes, but how many others here do?  I'm trying to be a big shot novelist and afford to pay people to watch TV for me.

If you do become a big shot novelist, then I will offer my services to get paid to watch TV.


Cammy, crime fiction can be entertaining while being informative and educational. And there is a link to writing good crime fiction novels and using the TV as a collaborative tool.


Have you read Lynda La Plante? She writes a tight-yet-glossy crime novel. It's entertaining and has a slack measure in dialogue and style, but she has a tightly-edited approach and she can be poetic when she wants. However, she has received numerous awards for her contribution to TV shows like Prime Suspect.


Unfortunately studies have shown that reading is the best brain exercise. TV - very little stimulation, I'm afraid. You can either google or research it yourself. It's the discipline of word, sentence, paragraph, page and - and this is the important one - information.


When I write a sentence of people dying in a rockfall, my research of the location, the feasibility of a rockfall and any previous incidents at the location, forces a lot of info into that one sentence. The reader has to take it in and subliminally records and considers everything. TV viewing stresses the eye muscles more than the brain.



I don't think people read crime novels to get educated.  And anything poetic or gripping along the way is all part of the entertainment.


I think it's wrong to look at fiction as "merely entertaining".  That what we do and shouldn't downgrade it.  Whether a book stuffed full of facts about Victorian Englands flash class is more entertaining than a studly private eye knocking them out  and knocking them up is all based on what readers find enjoyable.


I stipulated on the "brain activity" thing.  I just don't think it matters.  Swimming or weightlifting might be better body exercise than sex, but who cares?  


I guess I see this kind of like the "if you've got a message for people go to Western Union" thing, kind of,  if you want to educate, write non-fiction.  But again, I just don't see any higher purpose crime fiction serves than entertaining people.  

Nor should it.  Nor should it be dissed for it.

Dan and I.J.

It is so sad that the sanctity of the written word has withered a bit. I do understand the need to adapt as IJ mentioned, but we shouldn't have to.

I remember a wise person once claiming that writers can't write. While that might be true on a grammatical level, I still feel the true value of the art decaying.

In my country the literacy ratings has taken a savage knock over the years because the school curriculum has replaced Shakespeare etc with modern titles. These are sad times.

That being said, I try to accomodate for those who appreciate literacy and those who prefer popcorn.
Which country?  In American schools, they have stopped teaching grammar as a separate part of language.  And they offer very few language courses and hardly any Latin ever.  Latin is where you learn your grammar.  In addition, much of the traditional literature has been replaced by current fiction as more relevant to the children.  The idea behind that is that you can't get them to read otherwise.

OK, glad I read this. Now some of this other stuff, like crime novels shouldn't just entertain, but do some unspecified higher function, starts to make a little sense.


Reminds of me of my grandfather talking about how civilization couldn't really survive it you had boys and girls, much less white folk and negro folk in classes together.


Personally, I think it's a really good idea to learn English grammar from studying English, especially since Latin grammar is really different and nobody speaks if for the last couple of thousand years.  I learned a lot about English grammar studying French, and lately Spanish, but that's useful.


And I'm all for dumping a lot of that "traditional literature".  I wanted to gag at Silas Marner and Lord of the Flies and Tess of the Dubervilles and all that crap.  Just because something has been around doesn't make it any better.   It's a good idea to be up on Shakespeare... but his stuff is PLAYS...never meant to be read from books.  I thought it was a load of hogswill until I saw a couple of good films.  Good to be up on the Bible, as well.  Though I keep hoping that whole thing will blow over.


I'll tell you what I'm seeing here.   Is people trying to claim to be brainier than all those poor stupid sods out there...and therefore selling them short and thinking we have to be careful how we talk so the poor little dears will get it.  If I could only learn how to write loud and slow.


I don't buy it.  If you don't think the reading public as smart as you are, you've got no business writing for them, I'd say.


By the way... I went to some very good, snotty colleges dripping in erudition....  because I was good at sports.  

Factor that one in.

I think the best reason to read as many things written up to date as possible is to be a better writer, period, no matter what you write. But I have briefly taught high school kids and I do think they need to be reading actual books rather than cliff notes, and getting excited about books. so sometimes whatever it takes. I'm in fact dumb, still, about a lot of things. All the more reason to be open to all kinds of reading, and hopefully "classics" as well as more popular, current material.


My twelve year old takes Latin and how I regret not taking it and I took years of Spanish of French. It is helps writers become better writers and users of English.

I'm not trying to start something with this, or continue it, whatever. I'm an old lady with opinions and experiences, and yes, some of my experiences are also in Hollywood where a certain kind of education seems useless or nil.

I think there are writers talented enough to succeed without a lot of education. I'm not one of those. But education or no, there are no guarantees to this writing thing.

I'm leaving town. OK. Don't hate me. Too much.


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