Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
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. 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 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 multi-published authors. When an author has written more than one book, he or she needs to be careful about what is being reused.
Have you ever read two books 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.
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?