Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Popularity Contest

Bestselling author, Bryce Courtney, knows how long his average reader will spend reading at each sitting. The chapters of his novels are calculated to be precisely one sitting in length. Courtney also uses his research skills, gleaned from a career in advertising, to create novels that people will want to read.

I was surprised when I heard this. Is this a cynical attempt to manipulate his readers? I thought about this for some time before deciding that it is not. Whatever ones views on Courtney’s writing may be, it is hard not to admire his efforts to make his work more appealing to his readers.

Some writers might think differently. They might look at some of the classic novels and decide that writing that is hard to understand is the way to create high art.

This school of thought overlooks the fact that many classic works were extremely popular at the time they were published. These novels were in tune with the spirit of the people who read them.

This is something that I keep in mind as I learn to write. Becoming a good writer is not just about words: it’s about understanding the world in which those words exist.

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