Over 50% of the novels in your local library either. . .
1.) . . . teach you to escape the world and not how to live in it.
This is problematic because the reader will be discouraged to live life, always wanting something different from what they have. A novel should tell a story that will encourage the reader to understand this world rightly. It serves as a way to interpret the world, not how to escape it.
2.) . . . exhaust you.
One of the best “virtues” touted for storytelling these days is to always keep the reader at the edge of his/her seat. This is a huge mistake. If the reader is always at the edge of his/her seat when reading a novel, they will be far less likely to re-read the story because they will be on to the next adrenaline-pumping novel.
3.) . . . are narcissistic.
Haven’t you noticed that most new novels these days are all about one individual discovering something secret and using it for himself/herself? Either that, or an individual wants something special and obtains it near the end of the story. Many people actually state this is one of the reasons why the Millennial generation is a lot more discouraged. They’ve been taught all their lives that they are special and can have whatever they want.
4.) . . . are not imaginative.
Read the below example and see how much you can envision the scene.
So saying, he stopped his horse and let the reins fall on its neck: then, slowly beating time with one hand, and with a faint smile lighting up his gentle foolish face, as if he enjoyed the music of his song, he began.
Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday — the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight — the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her — the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet — and the black shadows of the forest behind — all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a tree, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half-dream, to the melancholy music of the song.” ~Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass
This sort of imagination you cannot obtain through the new-fangled fantasy genre that has popped up in the modern world. I am not opposed to fairytale, but stories full of witch-dogs, magic incantations, wizards battling sorcery, etc. do not aid imagination. They only hinder it because they are not things we can (or should try) to grasp. Such stories end up leaving the reader empty.
5.) . . . do not sustain the reader.
A book must have places of respite, very much like the example I gave in the point above. Such places are points the reader can go back to and re-read again and again – places of great descriptions and imaginative scenes.
6.) . . . have a theme of despair.
Too many stories these days end in sorrow or poorly made decisions by the hero. I understand if an authors doesn’t want a story to end with the old cliché, “and they lived happily ever after” (though I also think this is a nice ending!). There can be a moment of sadness even in a last chapter, but the overarching theme of a story should be one of redemption/joy instead of despair/sadness. If a plot gives a message of despair to its main characters, then it gives a message of despair to its reader.
7.) . . . are dumbed down for the youth.
I love children’s stories. In fact, stories about children having adventures or living ordinary life, stories that families could read together so they desire, are some of my favorite stories. Yet, these stories are not being told much today. Instead, we have a genre where everyone is trying to be “teenager-ish”. In the “good old days”, adolescence was the stage where a boy started growing into manhood and a girl into womanhood. They learned from their elders what adulthood is about. Now, we are dealing with youth rebellions, and our literature is encouraging it. Instead of appealing to youth immaturity, literature should be appealing to values and virtues that apply to all ages, young and old alike.
8.) . . . have too much magic in them.
I wanted to further explain point four with this point. Imagination I think is key to writing a good story. Without imagination, a reader cannot see the story themselves. Yet, tales of dark sorcery that are all about magical powers beating out other magical powers without any real conclusion are pointless and only corrupt imagination. A society indoctrinated with such stories become ignorant because they do not understand the simple wholesomeness of everyday life. Where are all of the great ordinary adventure stories and historical fiction books of the day? Reforming literature is key to reforming society.
9.) . . . run from moral truth.
Let’s be honest, the “subjective moral reasoning” of today has greatly affected storytelling. Heroes are no longer heroes, and villains are no longer villains. Yet, this does not change the fact that moral truth still exists. A good story never twists what moral truth really is because if it did, that would be the message given to the reader. Since that message is false (that morality is subjective), it would be portraying falsity to the reader.
10.) . . . are unintelligent and disorderly.
So many people do not understand these days what a good character really is because they do not have many examples of what a good character is. Instead of constantly writing turmoil in our stories, we need to show what truly good characters are like and how they would live.
Your fellow writer,