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Author Topic: A Mental Exercise  (Read 15603 times)
Vella Malachite
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« Topic Start: January 03, 2010, 06:14:56 pm »

At my aunt's place this year, I was talking to her about the 'Twilight' series - we were having a bit of fun with it, you know, the whole "why was it even published" thing (apologies to those who liked Twilight - that's just my opinion).

Then, she came up with a question that kinda stuck.
"Well, if it's so bad, why is it so popular?"
As an aspiring author, I thought it was an interesting mental exercise: take a popular, but bad, book, and ask why people like it.

So I thought I'd start a thread: Pick some of that bad books you've read, not necessarily Twilight, and think about what their virtues are.  If they're popular, why are they popular?

As to the question of 'Twilight', we ended up with this list:

  • Easy to read.  It is by no means a stretch of vocabulary, and so the language is accessible to the people who don't read much.  Teenagers, especially, who hate English and don't like thinking about books or movies, don't have to work to read it.
  • Characters who can be identified with.  Bella especially; any teenage girl can project herself onto Bella.  The characters are very stock-standard, and mostly quite average, so there's a good chance that people will identify with most of them.
  • Wish-fulfillment.  Hot vampire boyfriend?  Cute clumsy girlfriend?  Unconditional love?  Just because it's unhealthy doesn't mean it doesn't have an element of romance to it.  There's a lot of wish-fulfillment fodder there.

That was just what we came up with in a few minutes.
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« Reply #1: January 03, 2010, 06:50:49 pm »

So I thought I'd start a thread: Pick some of that bad books you've read, not necessarily Twilight, and think about what their virtues are.  If they're popular, why are they popular?

Bodice rippers!

Easy language.
PORN!  'cause yes, yes they are.
wish fulfillment - the man is always handsome, the woman is always beautiful, and they're ALWAYS madly in love by the end of the book and the happily ever after.
Complete plot irrelevance, in the really cheap ones.  I could pick up ANY Harlequin novel, read 100 pages, switch to a different one at page 100, and have no trouble figuring out what was going on.  I used to do this on breaks when I worked in a library, 'cause, y'know, they were there. Cheesy
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« Reply #2: January 03, 2010, 07:12:23 pm »

So I thought I'd start a thread: Pick some of that bad books you've read, not necessarily Twilight, and think about what their virtues are.  If they're popular, why are they popular?

You took Twilight, so I think I will take a horrible book that I actually read.

The Inheritance Cycle

Let me think....damn, this is harder than it looks.

1.  It's formulaic to the point where you don't have to think much when you read it if you can get past the purple prose and thesaurus abuse.
2.  You can save time by watching the original Star Wars Trilogy instead as the Inheritance Cycle is a rip-off that's boarderline plagerism has a plot that is coincedentally similar.
3.  The "Hero" is a sociopathic complete monster who is allied with your basic narcissistic elves and a terrorist organization seeking to topple a stable government and return to the days when the world was run by a military police state/dictatorship.  This, of course, is most likely completely unintentional on the writer's part.
4.  Some might find the story of the writer to be inspirational (graduated high school when he was fifteen and got the first book published soon after) when really he was homeschooled by parents who own a small publishing company.
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« Reply #3: January 03, 2010, 07:42:33 pm »

That was just what we came up with in a few minutes.

I just read the first one because I felt like I should and my sister has it. (disclaimer)

I also think that
1. making a movie hugely increases the popularity of a book.
2. books that can be marketed to a wide audience are more likely to get published.

I must admit that I read and enjoy a large selection of bad books on a failry regular basis.
(hangs head in shame)
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« Reply #4: January 03, 2010, 07:42:49 pm »

4.  Some might find the story of the writer to be inspirational (graduated high school when he was fifteen and got the first book published soon after) when really he was homeschooled by parents who own a small publishing company.
I was thinking, "buh?  never heard of it," until I hit this point.  Then I went, "Oh, him."

I feel kinda sorry for the kid - his parents really, really, really did not do him any favors with that.

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« Reply #5: January 03, 2010, 07:44:50 pm »

I must admit that I read and enjoy a large selection of bad books on a failry regular basis.
Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
This is already on my shortlist for "most appropriately hilarious typo of 2010".

(Not laughing at you, just at the accidental pun.)

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« Reply #6: January 03, 2010, 07:51:10 pm »

Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
This is already on my shortlist for "most appropriately hilarious typo of 2010".

(Not laughing at you, just at the accidental pun.)

Sunflower

Don't worry I'm not sensitive. Smiley
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« Reply #7: January 03, 2010, 07:51:32 pm »

I was thinking, "buh?  never heard of it," until I hit this point.  Then I went, "Oh, him."

I feel kinda sorry for the kid - his parents really, really, really did not do him any favors with that.

Apparently, he did try the conventional route and shop around for publishers but all of them rejected his manuscript (gee, I wonder why Roll Eyes ).  Then after mommy and daddy published his book, he went from school to school trying to sell it until the child of a big name literary agent found it.  Said literary agent saw the author's age and backstory as a good marketing ploy and the rest is history.  And by "history" I mean the bad kind like the plague or the reign of Caligula.
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« Reply #8: January 04, 2010, 03:29:04 am »

Apparently, he did try the conventional route and shop around for publishers but all of them rejected his manuscript (gee, I wonder why Roll Eyes ).  Then after mommy and daddy published his book, he went from school to school trying to sell it until the child of a big name literary agent found it.  Said literary agent saw the author's age and backstory as a good marketing ploy and the rest is history.  And by "history" I mean the bad kind like the plague or the reign of Caligula.

Oh I don't know-at least if you are reading about Caligula you will find things interesting and entertaining!  Wink
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« Reply #9: January 04, 2010, 03:36:17 am »

Oh I don't know-at least if you are reading about Caligula you will find things interesting and entertaining!  Wink

True, but it was still rather unpleasent for the people involved.  Maybe I should have compared it to reading like a book on the Nixon or Bush II presidencies?  Something that is unpleasent and makes you want to throw the book across the room in disgust.
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« Reply #10: January 04, 2010, 03:37:36 am »

True, but it was still rather unpleasent for the people involved.  Maybe I should have compared it to reading like a book on the Nixon or Bush II presidencies?  Something that is unpleasent and makes you want to throw the book across the room in disgust.

Ah, you mean like the Malleus Malefecarum?
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« Reply #11: January 04, 2010, 03:45:41 am »

Ah, you mean like the Malleus Malefecarum?

I wanted to avoid comparing it to actual tragedies that would probably be offensive, but since the Malleus Malefecarum involves subjecting victims to torture....
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« Reply #12: January 04, 2010, 04:09:39 am »

I wanted to avoid comparing it to actual tragedies that would probably be offensive, but since the Malleus Malefecarum involves subjecting victims to torture....

It's history. It happened and we can never change that. We can, however, learn from it. I hated that book. I was given some advice before I read it- that advice was to have a cushion, a box of tissues, some chocolate, and a great deal of patience when you read it. The tissues are for when you cry, the chocolate to make you feel a little better, patience as this happened long ago and can't be changed, and a cushion to either hit, throw or cuddle (probably all three).
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« Reply #13: January 04, 2010, 05:38:30 am »

It's history. It happened and we can never change that. We can, however, learn from it. I hated that book. I was given some advice before I read it- that advice was to have a cushion, a box of tissues, some chocolate, and a great deal of patience when you read it. The tissues are for when you cry, the chocolate to make you feel a little better, patience as this happened long ago and can't be changed, and a cushion to either hit, throw or cuddle (probably all three).

and given my cuddle dependency why didn't you hand the advice on with the book? I could have coped without the choclates and the tissues (which you did advise me to get) but my poor pillow was distraught when i finished
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« Reply #14: January 04, 2010, 05:40:25 am »

and given my cuddle dependency why didn't you hand the advice on with the book? I could have coped without the choclates and the tissues (which you did advise me to get) but my poor pillow was distraught when i finished


I did tell you, you were just paying the usual amount of attention to me (which is to say 'stuff all') and this is the result. Next time, try listening properly!  Kiss
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