Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Jumping the shark

This is a coined phrase. It refers to going past the point of no return. It specifically refers to the "Happy Days" episode when Fonzie jumped the shark. That was supposedly the beginning of the end for "Happy Days."
A confession: I loved that episode. I was young enough that I was enthralled with the danger of it. Of course, I also liked the Brady Bunch episode where they went tropical and Vincent Price starred. Something about voodoo, remember? I could go walk down TV lane some more, but I'll save that for another blog.

When do authors jump the shark? Is there some line authors cross where they should have stopped while they're ahead? I've seen blog posts about authors who have let their series run long, and the magic has dwindled fast.
Have some authors done a work "too death"? Sure, they have. They want to squeeze that last little bit out of a work. And it's hard to see when we're so close to it.
And as a market in general, what has crossed that line? Too many vampires? Brides? Secret babies? Have we flooded the market? Are we drowning?
Many people say that romance books are simply the same stories over and over again. And I suppose, to an extent, they're right. We, as authors, must be original in our telling. That's the talent. That's the difference. Our readers are voracious. When they find a good author, they stick. They're loyal.
And we owe them something for their loyalty. Let's not jump the shark.


Olga said...

I think many of the stories are already told, and if not, there should be a good reason for that. The trick is to tell them differently, and still in a way that tugs at the reader's heart.

Amy said...

I agree with Olga...there's no new stories to tell, but there are new ways of telling them. Characters are key, IMO.

Rene said...

I have a writing friend that complains her story isn't original. There are very few original stories left in our genre, but there are an endless supply of original voices and that it what is important. That's why we will stick with an author despite the fact the series is losing steam, we enjoy their unique voice.

username said...

Who said there's no original stories left to tell? Why do people seem convinced of this? It really reminds me of a quote I recently read by a musician commenting on trying to like stuff that everyone says is the next 'new' thing to like and when he doesn't like it, at the end of the day, he's questioning if it was really all it was cracked up to be because it didn't withstand the test of time. (I'm paraphrasing that, obviously, but you may get the idea.) In this case, it's certainly applicable to what's being written and/or the so called original/unoriginal factor. I read that quote and immediately related it to authoring/readership for some reason.

I've certainly made every attempt to be original with my stuff and have had more than enough people tell me I've succeeded in that. The story I'm thinking of is my contemporary romance that was out in the spring of 2004. It was more original than anything I, or anyone who knows me, have come across in a long, long time.

I'm also fortunate in the fact that I'm unique. If the originality and uniqueness works together well, then I'm a happy camper.

chryscat said...

There are only so many standards of characters. Period.
I'm simply stating what these wonderful women have already stated. It's voice. It's characters. It's the hook.
BUT...I do NOT like when an author will squeeze the last ounce of life out of a story so as to prolong the series or books.
I've stated before in a previous blog, if there's no market for what you have. Make one.

username said...

I have an idea for a fantastic new market/genre.

Just not sure where to find the resources to do anything with it.