Blogger: Rachel Kent
A multi-published writer mentioned in conversation with another author that she always makes the heroes in her books look like actor Harrison Ford. You know, the ruggedly handsome, Indiana Jones-type. She claimed that her readers never noticed the look-alike heroes. She chose to continue in this “rut” purposefully because Harrison’s a good-looking guy and none of her readers had ever written to her to complain.
I believe this is a dangerous way to write and I really don’t understand why she’d do it. By intentionally reusing a “rut,” believing that nobody will notice, she’s underestimating her readers’ intelligence and that’s not a good idea. Plus, Harrison (young or old) might not be everyone’s choice for a handsome hero. Variety is a good thing!
Reusing a “look” is probably not a huge mistake, but it’s the tip of the “rut-iceberg” for authors of more than one book. It’s always wise to be intentional about creating unique characters and books.
Have you ever read two novels by the same author and after you finish the second book you realize that the two plots are essentially the same? The same thing can happen with nonfiction. A nonfiction author is usually an expert on one subject, and it’s easy for the author to accidentally write practically the same book twice. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that every author only has one good book in them; I know for a fact that that’s not true, but I’m pretty sure that the saying is around because of these seemingly mass-produced books. Change the character names and title or reorder the chapters, and you have a “new” book. Be wary of this in your own writing. You don’t want to fall into this trap.
Are authors in too much of a hurry to produce books or is it laziness? Do editors want authors to write practically the same book again if the story sold well? Are readers too nice to point out to the author the strong similarities between plots? What do you think causes authors to essentially write the same book again? I’ve found that series that go on for many books (usually more than 6) end up reusing themes and plot-lines. How would you suggest an author keep track of what he or she has already written? How do you keep track?
And please don’t name names if you are going to mention a specific example. We don’t want to hurt anyone here!