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Writing to a Different Drummer
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I guess as the year winds down I'm agonizing over my writing. So, what else is new? However, I promise this will be my last stab, for awhile, to get at whatever's bugging me.

I feel out of touch with current trends in publishing. People talk constantly about "page turners" and "suspense" and "roller coaster rides." And all those things are fine, but books can do so many other things.

Some books which I had to work to read, left me with impressions which have lasted a lifetime. On the other hand I've been compelled to turn the pages of a novel and afterwards felt cheated, realized I had wasted my time because there was no substance. I had been manipulated with a bunch of technical tricks.

The magic of a book, for me, is that it is a direct communication between the reader and the writer, almost a pyschic connection. So books that are engineered to perfection to push our emotional buttons, that are little more than efficient machines in which the writer is barely visible, do little for me.

A roller coaster thrills, but it doesn't leave us with anything to think about. It offers no insights, no perspective. Yes, we are programmed to react when we are sent hurtling down the first steep hill. So too, we are programmed to react when we are told a child is in danger or a serial killer is lurking in the shadows or are faced with a description of graphic violence described to us. But simply eliciting visceral reactions seems a poor use of the magic of writing.

Besides, movies can elicit such reactions better than words can. It may be that writers are facing what painters faced with the advent of the camera. Suddenly, a painting whose only goal was to capture an accurate image was irrelevant. Writers are often advised to take their clue from movies. But why? Books aren't movies and there is no point to turn them into pale imitations of movies.

A thriller, like a classical mystery, is simply a convenient form. Probably the best thrillers, like the best classical mysteries stand apart because of elements aside from the genre form and the techniques employed to meet genre requirements.

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