We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
You’re probably a better writer than a lot of those who in the past saw dozens of their books published and earned tens of millions of dollars in royalties. Sound like a bold statement? Maybe so, but I think there’s a lot of truth in it.
One of my all-time favorite mystery writers was John D. MacDonald, who lived from 1916 to 1986. Stephen King called him “the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller.” MacDonald won many industry awards during his career.
At least two of his books, The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything and The Executioners (retitled Cape Fear by Hollywood) were made into movies. There may have been others of which I was not aware.
His twenty-one book Travis McGee series has been one of the favorite and best-selling mystery series ever written. I have all twenty-one of these and enjoy re-reading them from time to time.
Recently I sat down to re-read his crime novel The Crossroads. The first time I read this book, probably several decades ago, its style was consistent with the writing of the day, and I gave it little thought. This time, I was shocked.
Currently, I’m on page 50 of 176 pages, and he hasn’t gotten into anything about the crime yet. All these pages have been filled with background description information about the family involved. I’m reading it, because I know I enjoyed reading it in the past. But would I have gotten to page 50 if this were a new author to me? If I didn’t know the story ends up being interesting? I seriously doubt it.
Remember, this is one of my all-time favorite authors, but when I thought of him in comparison with a Lee Child, or some of the indie mystery writers like Julie Cave and Diana Orgain, I seriously doubt if MacDonald could start out today and get a book published. These writers have me in their stories in the first few pages, if not the first few paragraphs.
This is why I make the statement that you are a better writer than some of these old masters. You’ve been taught to draw the reader in. It’s been drummed into your head from your first class or writers’ group meeting that you have to hook the reader in the first few pages if you don’t want him to toss your book out the window.
Writing is a lot more competitive today than it was 40 or 50 years ago—or even 20 years ago. There are a lot of unknown writers competing for the reader’s attention and dollars. But that competition has also made us better writers. I take my hat off to you, the indie or self-published writer of today. Well done.
Incidentally, if you’ve never heard of Julie Cave or Diana Orgain, click on their names above to read about them. Try one of their books. If you like mysteries, you’ll like both of them.
For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.
For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.
Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.
Isn’t it amazing what we see when we pick up a treasured read of days gone by? This is a great post. As you can see, I’m way behind and out of order on responding to blogs, etc. You might want to consider submitting this to a writing magazine–it’s that good and to the point!
Interesting thought. Maybe that’s why trying to re-read some of the old classics takes a lot of effort.
David, This is a good thing to remember. I was told by an agent that half the authors in print today, would not be published if they entered the market today. I have to liken this with old movies. Back then, a character would say, “I’m going to make a call.” Another my say, “Oh, this thunder is scary. I don’t like lightening.” Today we see only the hand picking up the phone for that call. We hear the thunder, see the flash of light and watch the woman cringe and shake with fear on her face…. no dialogue at all. Yes, this is all with the times.
An excellent reminder. Have a GREAT weekend!
Thanks, my globe-trotting friend. Hope all is well with you and yours.
Thank you! All is well, and same for you too!