Last week I read a thriller by my favourite author. After I read it, I had just one thought running through my mind: I wish I hadn’t wasted time reading it. I felt cheated and disappointed. I’ve read all the books by that author and this book was a cut, copy and post job: the plot was a rehash of another book, the characters had been pulled out from all her other books and the storyline plodded through an expectable route with nothing new to offer.
I wondered why that veteran writer actually wrote this book. This book was an exact clone of her previous books. Word for word. I passed the book to my sister-in-law and she (though she isn’t a writer) said the same thing. Infact she went as far as telling me that she is skipping pages to come to the end.
The worst mistake we writers make is Falling Into The Trap. We can fall into this writing trap due to several reasons; overuse of certain types of clichés and stereotypes, use of a similar style of narrative in every story we write, even though the books aren’t a part of a series, use of similar settings, use of similar protagonists, using predictable sub-plots and plot twists.
I attribute this to the fact that once the writers have discovered a successful formula, they want to milk it for all its worth. Perhaps they endorse the view why mess with something that has worked well. But they forget that what readers adored once, may not find takers again.
Many times I have a strong feeling of Déjà vu when I read the next set of books written by few writers. I feel I have met the characters before. Even the setting has no novelty, it’s the same one as the last book written by the author. The problem faced by the main character and the way the conflict has been resolved is something I had guessed halfway (very often much earlier) through the book.
These authors fall into a self-made trap. They can avoid this by writing something new in every book. Roald Dahl’s books : George’s Marvellous Medicine, Twits, Mathilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate factory, all had something new to offer. So did Rowling’s books. Though the seven potter books had the same setting of Hogwarts and the same set of characters, each book had something new to offer. There were surprises and shocks aplenty, new entrants who took us unawares, several times the plot took unexpected twists that had readers eager to know what would happen next.
Have you ever felt that a particular writer is falling into the trap? How do you personally manage to avoid the writing trap? Please share, we all can learn from your experience.