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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Penetrating the Formula

source: iclipart

A few years ago, a friend of mine turned me on to these sci-fi novels that shall remain nameless here. Set in space and with a female protagonist, I threw myself into the series with fervor and glee.

Soon a romantic element was introduced, and although romance is not my thing I was willing to tolerate its intrusion as long as that did not dominate the story.

To my surprise, “romance” was hardly the correct label for what passed as a relationship between these characters – especially because their carnal relations more closely resembled the legal definition of rape.

I want to blame Ayn Rand for this trend but I don’t know that she was the first to write in a rape scene and pass it off as some sort of relationship. It certainly was the first time I read such a thing. I chose to disassociate the rape scene from my reading experience and I cannot say that it ruined The Fountainhead for me, but the shock of it has stayed with me my entire adult life.

As far as the writer of the sci-fi series, I also read another of her fantasy series and she repeated this habit.

I was horrified. (And no, I will not add to the ridiculous discussion on the subject of sexual assault that passes for political discourse these days.)

Yet, as offensive and baffling as this idea was to me, what turned me off to her writing eventually was the increasingly annoying and ever more frequent and glaring typos in her books. It was like she couldn’t write that drivel fast enough for her publisher to actually copy edit the shit!

Don’t get me wrong, the stories were fun. And I suspect that they sold precisely because they were quick and fun reads. Who doesn’t love a quickie?

I bring it up because there is an ongoing conversation at Kindleboards and at countless blogs about the success of 50 Shades of Gray.

Craig Ferguson summed it up perfectly. He said he doesn’t mind sexy bits in his literature as long as what precedes it includes clever words.

The Shades of Gray series is notoriously badly written, by all accounts, and yet remains in the bestseller lists for print and e-books alike (with no signs of going limp, if you’d pardon the vulgarity).

It turns out that most readers don’t give a flying fuck. Apparently this Reading Elite that constantly complains about the quality of e-books are not the same majority who actually buys them, because only the Grammar Nazis and other writers seem to be offended by the spanking E.L. James gives the English language.

This makes me wonder whether I should deliberately allow typos and run-on sentences to remain in my work; throw in a bitch slap and a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, and KA-CHING!

If only life were as easy and submissive as Anastasia Steele. Actually, that wouldn't work for me... I prefer my life to come with a little more kick. Sigh, I'll stop now.

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