The other day, I was reading the paper (which I do from time to time) and I saw an article discussing e-books and the way they are changing writing.
This made me pause for a second. I have read countless articles debating and discussing the effect the e-book revolution has had on the publishing industry, but what about the effect it has had or is having on the subject matter.
The ability to self publish has meant that getting work out there is easier than ever before. I will not talk about books not being ready or people expecting fame for fortune from the very first hour, and would rather ask you to assume, for the rest of this post, that all books publishing in this way are actually ready for publication.
I will save my views on this article until the very end, and am rather presenting the argument that was raised for your deliberation first.
Now that we can upload a book whenever we ‘want’, have we ever stopped to ask if the shape of a novel is changing as a result. Sure, the boundaries between genres is blurred, and a writers ability to move freely between genres is certain more pertinent today then in years gone by, but what about the end product.
Is it all too easy for a writer to create a book of around 50,000 words, and call it a novel? It’s over the standard novella limit of 40,000 so it much be ok right? Is that a novel? or is it merely the basic idea.
Indie writers are delving deep into ‘craft’ books, and learning all the right phrases and approaches to writing a story, but is the overall development still the same? Are writers really pushing themselves to the edges of creativity? I know that many are, but let’s not look at genre specific items, but rather writing as a whole.
Is it not too tempting nowadays to see that acceptable word limit, round off the story line and edit it, without considering the addition of an extra plot line that could be woven into the background?
The other point this article (which I for the life of me cannot find anymore) made is about chapters. Do writers still use cliffhangers at the end of their chapters, to hook readers and get them eager to find out what happens next? Is the chapter structure of a book the same as it was ten years ago, or twenty?
I can tell you, that this article, was part of a speech given by a traditionally published author at an awards ceremony. I don’t know about you, but it almost came across as if she was afraid of e-books and the surge of new writing talent available. She does raise an interesting point on book length, but to lay the blame or the suggestion of blame at the feet of e-books seems all too easy. Maybe it is the demands of an ever changing world that have lead to certain genres shortening their lengths. It certainly isn’t a problem with writers being lazy or not wanting to go the extra mile.
On chapters I cannot really comment. I mean I have read books with and with cliffhanger chapter endings, and you know what, not all books need them.. All in all, the points raise in the article were interesting but should not have been aimed towards ebooks or indie publishers, but rather at the ever changing shape of fiction. I mean, is it fair to blame indie writers for the changing way of biography writing? Or to say the new branch of biography writing that tells the true story weaved around a light tale of fiction? No, it is merely… evolution.
E-readers, and e-books are a different read to a physical book. That I truly believe. It is neither a good nor a bad, but rather a change, and who are we to standing in the face of change.
So I ask you, have you noticed books changing over the years? What do you thin is the biggest change in fiction since you were a child reading books and now as an adult, writing them. (and yes, I know, we still a read a lot today, but you see what I mean.)