Now that self publishing has become the norm, everybody and their uncle are writing books. It’s wonderful that the book we were always told was inside every one of us can now be brought into being so easily and that everyone has an equal chance of leaving a creative legacy to the universal consciousness long after they’ve gone. All those unrealised geniuses of the written word now have a means with which to let their talent blossom.
The problem is that not everyone is a genius wordsmith and many who really shouldn’t be writing, are writing and publishing books. I’ve noticed more and more in recent months those little signs that give away the absence of real creativity and it bothers me. For instance, I’ve seen quite a few examples of books containing characters who have been named after other, already famous fictional characters without even the lamest of attempts at changing the name or trying to disguise it. Just the other day this chick on facebook posted about her book that contained a pair of protagonists named after an extremely famous TV crime duo from the not too distant past.
I know there’s no copyright on names but come on, stealing names of already famous characters is not just lazy and uncool but also smacks of a huge lack of creative ability. If you can’t even come up with a unique name for your protagonist, then what’s your story line going to be like? Maybe it’s just me being a perfectionist but every time I see this happening, I cringe.
Another thing I’ve noticed more than once is books that have obviously been based on another famous book or movie and in some cases the story line is almost an exact copy with only the names, locations and peripheral action changed. Then there are the multi genre books. You know the thing I mean; the “it’s a vampire/zombie war set in a steampunk environment with an erotic romance between two aliens from different planets who are forbidden to be together by the fairy queen until the ancient dragons have been found/killed.” The authors of these books don’t have a connection with a specific genre that pulls them and inspires their creativity, so because they can’t decide which to plump for, they shove them all into the pot together and come up with a joke.
Maybe I’m being too harsh but I truly believe that a writer doesn’t ‘want’ to write a book; they write a book because they can’t not write a book. A writer will always know which genre they ‘must’ write in, without even thinking about it. It won’t be a conscious choice, it’s hard wired into them.
Where’s the creativity? Know your limitations and if you have to nick things from the creative work of others, then maybe you should look for another hobby.