Here are some prickly questions that crop up and that I don't have good answers for:
1) We’ve all read them-books that start out with a great premise, interesting characters, intriguing setting…and then the book runs off the rails. So what happened? I’m pretty sure that the author didn’t say “oh good, I’m done, I’ll just write anything from here on to the end. And I’m also pretty sure the publisher doesn’t stop reading and say, “okay, we’ve hooked the reader, who cares what happens next?” So what did happen?
2) You have a great idea for a book. You are super-excited. You start writing and the story roars along. The characters are alive, the plot thrills you. Every time you sit down at the computer, your heart is racing with excitement. And then one day you stall out. The plot seems silly, the characters empty. You try for a while to resurrect your enthusiasm. You take advice about how to move forward, but the book feels dead. Eventually you decide it’s better to put it away in favor of something else. What happened?
3) You pick up a book in your favorite genre, one that everyone likes, and for you it falls flat. You keep reading, hoping to discover the magic that has enchanted everyone else, and by the time you finish it, you are shaking your head, wondering if it’s you are “them.”
4) You pick up a book that all your friends made fun of and you love it. You find a sly wit at work, the characters remind you of people you know. Your imagination is sparked and you can’t wait to read other books by this author.
5) In your writer’s group there is an author who has worked for years and has written a couple of books you think are terrific—and the writer can’t find an agent or a publisher. On the other hand, the person in the group who has just dashed off what you secretly think is pretty thin stuff comes in with a glowing report that she has just landed a three-book contract. Not that you begrudge her good fortune, but you can’t help wondering what gives.
There are a number of ways to answer each of these questions, but the common denominator is that tastes differ. What speaks to one person doesn’t necessarily grab another. In fact, what may have initially grabbed you about something you were writing may not have what it takes to go the distance. One of the hardest things any writer has to learn is that not everybody is going to like your work—including you. And as a reader, not everyone is going to adore your favorite books and authors.
I’d love for readers to share your ideas about what happened.