Wednesday, 24 November 2010
THE PATTERSON FACTOR
"My success revolves around the fact that I am fairly analytical, logical, have a pretty good IQ but I’ve got street smarts too. You know, a lot of people who have nice IQ’s are just dumb as a brick when it comes to thinking about how other people think and what they might like and how to act in public and things like that. I think I have, you know, gifts involved of those areas. I mean, if I am writing a story that kids are supposed to not want to put down, if I don’t feel it, then I don’t think kids will feel it. If I don’t think that the pages are moving in the story and the characters aren’t involving, then I’m going to assume that the people reading it won’t.” James Patterson recently told an interviewer in his defence.
"I probably wouldn't try to write a literary novel. I think I can write an acceptably good novel, but I am not particularly interested in talking to that audience. I think a lot of the things that are praised are just kind of show-off prose, which is just not my thing. I can appreciate it, you know. I'm a big reader and I read all kinds of things, but it is not something I want to do." James Patterson
I agree with Patterson on the last point, most literary fiction comes across as pretentious and plot less - give me a good escapist read over literary fiction any day and I guess he does give struggling authors an opportunity to reach a mass market but Patterson's name is always in bigger print than the actual author. And I somehow doubt that these writers for hire are making the untold millions Patterson rakes in from their labours.
"My fundamental goal has always been simply to tell good stories. In that regard, my attitude I expect is much the same as it was 30 years ago." James Patterson
That's all very well but seeing as Patterson doesn't write most of the books published under his name the argument falls flat. Now I've not read his early books so I can't comment on those but I had three of his books preloaded on my Sony eReader (pictured) and I deleted them after giving up on Double Cross - to my mind it was terrible writing with no characterisation and too many cliffhangers. I mean some of his chapters are one page in length - what the f**k is that about?
"James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful.” Stephen King
Patterson has recently branched out into video games, again carrying the Patterson brand, and again this cheapens his books. It's okay for a video game to be based on a writers novel but when the game is marketed as by James Patterson it all comes out as a purely commercial exercise with all the integrity of the X-Factor. I mean let's be honest the X-Factor is flashy and fun but it's never going to produce an act of any lasting worth and it must piss off all those real artists who are learning their craft around the music clubs and festivals
Patterson's advice to new writers - "Write a good book; that is what most authors can do. Just write a terrific book that has some kind of a hook or uniqueness that people are going to respond to. Write it in a way that people will not be able to stop reading it, and that they will compulsively read. That's really the best advice I can give most people."
Maybe he should practice what he preaches.
Still Patterson is a genius - his bank balance is proof of that.