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Published Authors You Write Better Than (1 Viewer)

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Take heart. There are probably a lot of them. In pursuit of exploring other genres, I've been sampling some authors with a LOT of books in print ... looking at RomComs, Mystery, and Cozy Mystery. I'm looking at early efforts, but ... hey! ... those early efforts got published.

Right now I'm pretty impressed with my life of fantasy and sci-fi genre reading, but there's no question I've gravitated toward the best of the best in those fields. Writers like Heinlein, Asimov, McCaffrey, Norton, Zelazny ... these are great writers ... and the thought of trying to live up to that level of writing may be why it took me so long to finish my first novel. And even in mystery, authors like Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie are almost flawless. They made it hard for me to decide I could write a mystery. I'm still trying to prove I can. However, my sequel to Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy is getting favorable comparison by lifelong Heinlein fans, something I definitely did NOT expect.

I've read the first two Sue Grafton in her alphabet series. There are some rough edges there, though the books are certainly page turners. I just tried the first chapter of the first book of Joan Hess' long running Maggoty series. If I'd read that in the day I'd have dropped the book and never read more of her. She had an unfortunate penchant to turn dialogue into speeches, and an obsessive need to "add color". She added color to the point I tired of scatological dialogue in a hurry. I can write better than both of those author's early efforts ... and they were published and went on to long careers. I've read the first two Dick Francis books. I can match those, and maybe a bit better.

I "might" be able to match Barbara Mertz, but only because I've read her entire Amelia Peabody series, and I have an odd ability to soak up style.

The point of this isn't to brag for me. I'm sure there are quite a few writers on this site, still looking for recognition, who could quite accurately make similar claims.

So spill it. Who is a decently well known, published author, you know you can write better than?

This isn't a brag for you, either. You need to know this and acknowledge this. I've got to tell you, the reading I've done in the last few weeks gives me a LOT of encouragement for the novel PiP and I are writing. You want to compare what we've written so far to the first Maggoty book? We've got it beat hands down. Let's just hope some agent agrees. LOL
 

Lawless

Senior Member
I wouldn't like to name any names, but it's very inspiring to read a book and find myself thinking: "Wow. If this got published, I can get published too."

In fact, I've seen a couple of novels which I would like to rewrite properly. Like, my heart bleeds seeing that such an amazing idea has been so appallingly wasted. (Of course I can't really rewrite someone else's book. I'll change it so much that no one can recognize it - and still thank the author in the introduction for inspiration.)
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Yay for you and @PiP ! That will be exciting to read!

There was the time that someone here ( @EmmaSohan was it you?) posted a snippet from the Da Vinci Code as something poorly written, but published. I took it as a challenge and rewrote it, BUT I had no idea it was from the DaVinci Code and I laughed my head off at my audacity to rewrite this top selling novel when I realized it. It was a famous scene, even! I was brand new on WFs. It would be a fun thread, @vranger "Write this snippet better than this published author" I'll do it if you don't. I could make a list of authors whose quirks I like to make fun of.

I am fascinated with this skill of judging your own work against others. I have a hard time judging my own work against others, although I might feel there are places that I shine. It's easy for me to tell you who I think are the greatest authors and poets of all time, though. So very high above and very far below I recognize, planting my writing in mediocreville (dang it) when I put it that way.
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Lately? Most of them.

Downside to having limited taste, I suppose.
Despite you trying to wriggle off the hook, you know my appreciation for your writing. If I didn't think so highly of myself, I might think you write better than me, and I might be right at that. :) One day we might have to have a write off. My only consolation is we aim at different styles. LOL
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I probably write better than a bunch and a bunch probably write better than I do. So what? It's all subjective anyhow. It isn't really a competition. Everyone has their own style. Most books I read, I'll find things I would have done differently but who cares? It isn't my book.

You missed the point. A lot of authors lack confidence in their writing, especially as their skills mature. When writers begin to be able to realistically compare their product to published authors, and favorably, that's a confidence builder. We recently had the thread about "when do you know you're writing at a professional level". This is one of those measures.
 
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Sinister

Senior Member
I'm not in a position to look down on any published author, regardless of talent. They may not impress with their prose, but they put in the work. The worst author you know, sent their work in after revising and changing it countless times. They faced rejection, believed in themselves and were noticed.

BUT, taking that on-board and looking purely at word-slinging... I'm better than Brian Lumley judging by House of Doors.. He does good work, but he second-guesses himself a bit and his plots develop in awkward and choppy ways. His characters suffer from the same development. He's very imaginative and creative though and his style isn't useless.

I feel like my style and prose are better than Dan Brown. Some of his excerpts that I've read have been, or are, difficult to believe. That said, full-confession, I have not read any of his books for longer than a few chapters.

I feel like most authors that I might be better than, I have not read. lol I feel like I can write better than a score of writing that must've existed in script-form for movies and series. That is more frustrating than encouraging, when you're trying to enjoy TV.

Some of my plots and plot twists are far better, but other areas of my writing are far poorer than many published authors, I imagine.

-Sin
 
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Terry D

Retired Supervisor
It's not at all disparaging to an author if you read something they wrote and think, "I can do better than that!" Seriously, evaluating a book is a subjective experience, so all opinions are valid.

Several come to mind for me:

Bentley Little -- Unimaginative, emotionless horror presented with no flair at all
James Patterson -- His early stuff was good, but he got wrapped up in his own success and became lazy and shallow
Lee Child -- I tried the first Jack Reacher novel and could not finish it. Child's choppy, declarative style isn't worthy of a high schooler

Honorable mention to, Norman Boutin's, Empress Theresa. (Long time WF members might remember, Norm)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Except in practice, it doesn't work that way. Sure, in a head-to-head competition, you'd better be able to beat other writers, but that's just not how publishing works. They're looking at salability. There are tons of factors you have absolutely no control over. If your story looks better than one they've already signed, you're not going to get signed too because they don't want to compete with themselves. If the elements of your story are deemed to be over-saturated on the market, you're not going to sell, at least not with that story, no matter how skilled of a writer you are. It is virtually never a head-to-head competition. It's being in the right place at the right time with something they can sell.
Interesting you would mention the issue of saleability. I took an online seminar today with Kathy Ver Eecke, on query letters. The entire seminar was about making a case for book sales. Very enlightening!

I understand where @vranger is coming from, it's a good test for confidence-building. But the caveat is you may not focus on the right aspects of the comparison, and lul yourself into complacency. Let's face it, excellence and marketability do not always go hand in hand.
 

Digital Dive Labs

Senior Member
Every other one of those writers is the competition.
(I know you don't mean 'competitor' in a bloodthirsty, "it's on sight" sort of way, but...)

Hard disagree, there. We're drawing from the same resources (the finite time of an agent, a pubishing house with room in their Q3 lineup for a murder romance, readership with limited spending power), but none of that necessitates a competitive relationship. I gain nothing by viewing you as an opposing player in a zero-sum game.

Moreso, those resources can be nurtured. We're not predators fighting over a kill, we're farmers growing a crop. That there are so many places like this one for writers to assist each other (at no direct benefit to themselves) proves this.
When writers begin to be able to realistically compare their product to published authors, and favorably, that's a confidence builder.
Definitely, but in my experience it's a short-term boost at best, complete with its own dangers as @Taylor excellently put.

Critical examination can help you be more aware of when you're making those same mistakes, but as an exercise in confidence there are other, far more effective means.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I went looking for some snippets of work. I didn't find any in this first search... but I did find a ton of writers who learned what NOT to do from Stephanie Meyers (this is just the first author I searched) lol.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Links to samples and criticism of Dan Brown. Well, if we can learn anything from it, folks.... I guess the question is, do I learn more from having experienced writing that doesn't work or do I learn more from great writing. Probably some of both. Still, what does work and why it seems to sell should be looked at with these authors. There are a lot of people emotionally invested in these books. What is it that makes Stephanie Meyer and Dan Brown sell?
There's a lot to learn of what not to do from this:
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Links to samples and criticism of Dan Brown. Well, if we can learn anything from it, folks.... I guess the question is, do I learn more from having experienced writing that doesn't work or do I learn more from great writing. Probably some of both.
Definitely both. However, the more I've learned about writing from both study and doing, the more I know WHY something I read was not well done, when before I was as likely to have a vague sense it just wasn't grabbing me, without knowing why. And to keep that on topic to this discussion, that made it possible for me to recognize where some published authors were making mistakes that got published anyway, where in many cases I've recognized those things in my own writing and weeded them out.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Definitely both. However, the more I've learned about writing from both study and doing, the more I know WHY something I read was not well done, when before I was as likely to have a vague sense it just wasn't grabbing me, without knowing why. And to keep that on topic to this discussion, that made it possible for me to recognize where some published authors were making mistakes that got published anyway, where in many cases I've recognized those things in my own writing and weeded them out.
Our old small critique group, including my husband, had experienced great reveals in movies like Fight Club or Sixth Sense and trusted their reader would be having the same mind-blowing experience if they held back info like the character’s first name. They also purposefully left out explanation (in their mind) thinking the reader would be wondering at the edge of their seats what was going on. As readers we tried to explain diplomatically “Once we have that info, our minds are not blown. We were not on the edge of our seats to find out something we never thought to ask.”After seeing reveals done horribly my husband dug into the research of creating suspense and came out a much much better writer.

None of us are published. My point is, experiencing bad writing in this way motivated us to learn more and improve. It also makes it so very obvious how easy it is to lose your reader.

I hope I can have other learning experiences like this to figure out what doesn’t work. I think just asking myself “Why do I think this writing is disappointing, confusing or boring?” And in moments that I love what I’m reading asking myself why I think it is great. Besides motivation, figuring it out and being able to find information that will help is the third element it takes.
 
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Riptide

WF Veterans
Let's see!! Well, okay, recently I gravitate towards the amazon free pile of kindle books so there's not much there that screams absolutely amazing or well known. I did get a free Amazon Prime copy of "Suddenly Psychic" by Elizabeth Hunter, which has a couple thousand reviews on it, and I know for a fact I can write a better mystery than her. You could see it a mile a way.

Writing wise, I think we might be on par. Perhaps. Idk, I always have a grandiose view of my writing
 

Backstroke_Italics

Senior Member
I don't think I can say too much without being guilty of self-promotion, but recently I've been doing a lot of scraping and scrounging on the new releases of Amazon. One thing I've learned is that obscure, self-published books run much the same gamut of quality as traditionally published books, minus some amateur technical errors of formatting or grammar. I've found plenty of published authors who are terribly overrated (no shade; do what you love), and just as many nobodies who should be on the shelf next to "real" authors. To be specific, I came across a book of poetry called Indigenous, I Am that was better than either of the Gabbie Hana poetry books I read.

My own book, though, no. It's the worst book ever written and no author, published or otherwise, can match its dreadfulness. If you read it, I'm pretty sure you would go blind.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Better / worse are subjective calls. If I recall correctly, Stephen King was considered a hack writer until he hit the big time... speaking of which though, who is the better writer, King, Vonnegut, or Bradbury? Kinda depends on the genre and my expectations for it.

It's more productive to work at having each new book we write be better than the last.

ETA:
There's also the issue of the mechanics of writing vs story structure vs plot.
My current read (thankfully almost through it) is about first contact with aliens - I'm reading it as research for a novel I have in my head that will show up after The Last Ride is published. There are problems with the writing, mostly word usage and wordiness, but my main issue is that it's more of a corporate espionage story than anything about extraterrestrials... which is NOT what it was advertised. So my issue with it is more about the plot than the mechanics. First it isn't what was advertised, but also concerning the writing NONE of the characters are relatable... as a reader I don't care if any of them live or die - and that's a fault with the writing.
 
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