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Brainwave [Oct. 22nd, 2013|10:46 pm]

I have a weird compulsion to share lately. So sorry for crowding your flists!

Anyway, so I had this brainwave. (Totally inspired by someone on the flist saying they want to be an author and then me thinking about how while I’m not banking on it at all it would be really cool to one day write a successful novel.)

My brainwave was this: It’s really weird how certain works (in many areas, but lit specifically) become extremely popular. It almost seems like the idea is not so much about good literature as about hitting some sort of combination of factors -- a sort of luck – which provides the public just with what they wanted at that moment (before someone else already fills that niche).

Actually, I’m pretty certain that being good literature has very little to do with popularity. Not just because so many classic works were not well received by their contemporaries and are still not exactly popular, even if regarded as “great literature” by those who know/care, but also because we have things like 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight topping the best-selling lists. (BTW I heard the 50 Shades is going to be made into a movie? Seriously? *facepalm*).

But even moving into far more respectable territory: let’s take Harry Potter. And I mean, it’s a wonderful, entertaining, imaginative series of books written by someone with a general sense of style and a broad vocabulary. But I’ll also contend that A Song of Ice and Fire is better written and more interesting in plot/characterizations/etc. (I can imagine others will disagree, but this is my brainwave, so….) Now ASoIaF is a very popular book series but it has nothing on HP. There can be different arguments for why, after all the two book series are fairly different in content and target audience among other things, but I still think that Harry Potter just managed to hit some sort of wave, just the way 50 Shades did. Just because HP is ~better literature still doesn’t exclude the fact that it’s unproportionally popular.

And it doesn’t even have to be these well known examples. I feel like there are plenty of books out there which are very good, perhaps even better than HP or ASoIaF or at least not as bad in either writer or message but I feel like some things just for some reasons click with their initial audience (who then “market” it around) and others don’t.