Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'll See Your Random Plot Device and Raise You a Total Lack of Character Development


I would be interested in your opinion of time-travel books. I've been told that this technique for exploring history has been overdone, but I still see it used.


I'm kind of tired of it. The idea, I mean. But it's not going to suddenly become unpublishable. Time travel as a mode of transit is going to be around forever.


But more to the point: don't worry about this sort of thing. Time travel, sudden deaths, giant wombats... who cares what you get your plot going with? Smart, absorbing, entertaining writing trumps all other hands. (Christ, was Criss Cross about anything? But obviously the Newbery committee didn't mind.)

6 comments:

seaheidi said...

excellent point about criss-cross. i thought it was delightful, but it was, indeed, a bit of a plotless wonder. =9

Qual said...

Interesting point about time travel, but I agree with EA, it isn't likely to go away - and I hope not. The concept may be a bit tired at the moment. However, if you'll pardon the pun, I do feel the concept of time travel is timeless. It just needs some fresh impetus/fresh stories and great characters to pull us along. Plus, time travel doesn't have to be about exploring history. It can be much more than that. Time travel offers endless possibilities of the imagination.

You could make the same argument about fantasy in general. I do feel it is tiring. Since Harry Potter we've been presented with increasingly diluted quality in this genre, yet it remains hugely popular. Don't get me wrong. I'm not an 'oul gripe. Thankfully, quality still hits the shelves.

Fantasy and/or time travel is not dead. They just need a cold shower.

Lauren said...

But it seems that for every Criss Cross, there are a hundred other "nice voice, beautiful writing, but this'll never sell" books that capture an agent or editor's heart but are never graced with an ISBN.

I believe in my writing style, and I often get those "great voice" comments, but I feel like that's not enough to get me a contract these days. At least, not a first one.

re: time travel. I usually read contemporary / realistic fiction, but time travel stories can persuade me to read outside my usual genre. Actually, a good time travel story is what pulls me into SF / F nine times out of ten. Keep 'em coming, please!

Qual said...

I concur - please do keep 'em coming ...

LynNerd said...

I'm a real sucker for a good time travel story. Since I was a kid, the concept has always intrigued me. Especially when there's a surprising twist, I love it. I see no end to time travel books...

Anonymous said...

I love time travel books! Although I do think that there are maybe too many stories on the market of a kid who travels through every possibly interesting time period and place, chasing a mysterious artifiact, all in the same book (or trilogy). There are a lot of different things you could do with time travel that *wouldn't* be repetitive, and it would be nice to see more of that.

OTOH, I am much more likely to drop money for even one of the above books than for one with lovely writing where NOTHING HAPPENS. No matter what kind of sticker is on it.