So, you’ve written a great novel, you love the voice, but then you read someone else’s and realize how terrible yours is. Or, is it?
It’s so easy to compare your story to someone else’s and feel that theirs was so brilliantly written whereas yours doesn’t compare. But, why do we do this to ourselves?
Books are just like paintings. They depict a story, sure, but each style is so different than the next. And that’s okay.
Take the realistic Mona Lisa, for example. Millions of people love the simplicity and accurate nature. It’s straight forward and needs no decoding to understand. I’d say its literary equivalent would be general fiction.
But not all paintings are meant to be accurate portrayals. Think of the surreal painting The Persistence of Memory. What is that painter saying? I almost equate this to satire or absurdity.
What about impressionist painting The Starry Night? So much fluidity and movement. I compare these to science fiction and fantasy because such an emphasis is placed on the environment, which is important to build in these genres. I also compare it to retellings, because the painters take what they’re given and recreate it in a way that’s special to them.
Some are abstract and welcome discussion, a few are violent. The Scream is downright horrifying.
People who like the peace of Mona Lisa won’t exactly care for the violent image in Massacre of the Innocents. So, if you’ve written a Mona, and read someone’s Massacre, you’ve got to keep in mind that, yes, while it evokes strong imagery and emotion, its audience is not the same as yours, and does not mean yours is lacking.
If your prose is strong, your images are on point and your writing is as tight as it needs to be, then don’t worry about comparing your novels.
If, however, your prose is on the weak side, your images are uninspired and your writing is either so tight, characterization suffers or so loose that you say the same thing eight times in a chapter, then find a writing group and adjust these issues.
According to Google, there are almost 130 million books out there, and most have found an audience.
If you’ve written a great book but don’t feel it’s as jarring as another, don’t worry. Write what’s appropriate to YOUR story and YOUR category and YOUR genre and YOUR style. Only Stephen King can get away with writing like Stephen King. Be the next you.
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