Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Re-Write Nightmares

by Clare O'Donohue

Q: Sometimes great ideas go horribly wrong. Is there a book with a genius premise that you'd like to rewrite?

I'm stumped on this one. I've read books that have been disappointing, even infuriating. But have I quietly rewritten it in my head? That's a really good question.

And the answer is: probably, but I'll be darned if I can come up with an example.

Certainly not my own work but that's because I'm scared to read my early books. What would I do if I hated a character or realized I'd gotten the ending all wrong? Would I chase down everyone who bought the book and explain how it should have been? That's a bad dream (or a great movie premise).

And in terms of other people's books...

I didn't like The Executioner's Song, though Norman Mailer won a Pulitzer for it, so what do I know? It's a terrific idea, chronicling the life and death of Gary Gilmore, who fought for his execution rather than against it. I'm not a huge fan of Mailer's writing, but I thought the subject would overcome that. Apparently not.

The Da Vinci Code is another on that list, but for different reasons than Robin. Also not a fan of Dan Brown's character development, but in this case it was the central premise of the book. I didn't buy it. It's not like anyone could prove the big secret of the novel that prompts some people to kill to expose it, and others to die to protect it. You could shout it from the rooftops, offer all the closely guarded paperwork you wanted - but for the faithful, you would just be some crazy person with fake documents, and for non-believers, well, what would they care? Since I didn't buy the idea, the thrill of the chase was a bit dull for me.

But I don't think I'd want to rewrite these books, just learn from them that nothing is universally loved. Which is what I try to remember if I happen across an amazon reviewer who wonders why I got the ending to my book all wrong.


Robin Spano said...

Great message about how one book can never satisfy all readers. Good thing there are so many different voices out there!

Unknown said...

Thanks Robin!