I recently wrote Fifty Shades of Ruby – A Fifty Shades of Grey Review – An Introduction discussing my difficulty on settling on a single opinion about EL James’s novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Taking it from three different perspectives, my opinion on the novel from an erotica writer’s point of view is quite black and white. It really can be summed up on eight simple words:
This is certainly not a well written book.
I knew that right from the start. Within ten minutes of reading the book, I had seen the phrase “ghost of a smile on his lips” three separate times. Ms James seems to have a list of twelve of so adjectives that she pulls from for the entire novel. Every third paragraph seems to be discussing the color of Christian’s eyes. Her chapters seemed to follow a formula of sorts with her sentence style, especially when it came to dialogue – almost cookie-cutter. If I had handed this in as a short story to my senior year English teacher, Miss Farley would have had a field day with her red pen.
I do have to admit, there were times where my mind was more involved in self-critiquing her writing style than getting involved in the story itself, and that upset me. I certainly hope Ms James never steps foot into any self-pub writers forums or she’d see herself completely crucified for her ‘lack’ of writing skills. In an interview on the Today Show in the states, she gets asked straight out what she feels about her writing, and she says that she is aware that they are poorly written.
But does any of that really matter?
I suppose it depends on who your target audience is. After all, Fifty Shades of Grey started off as a Twilight fanfic. EL James was not a professional writer. She did this out of her own desire for smut using characters she grew to love (all possible issues of copyright infringement set aside).
Does that anger me? No.
Am I jealous of the fact that a self-admitted poor writer has been this successful? Somewhat.
Has my own outlook on my writing changed because of reading this novel? Yes.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending her lack of writing skills as someone who strives to write quality material when it comes to purchased words. I’m also not sitting in my glass house with a pile of stones at my feet. My very first comment on a piece I wrote that was selling on Amazon criticized my own style of writing. I’m simply wondering, at the end of the day, from a purely occupational standpoint, does the issue of this collection of books being quite badly written really matter? She did what us erotica writers can only dream of – she wrote what she would want to read, and she is making a mint from it. So many of us battle with the ‘write for self’ versus ‘write for audience’ debate. So many of us have heard that if we write for ourselves, the money will eventually follow. In the case of Fifty Shades, that came with the first publication. In other erotica writers, that may never come.
From a writer’s perspective, I didn’t enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey because I was too hooked up on the mechanics. I certainly did take something away from it, though, that will be part of my own writing evolution.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it on other levels.
Three Shades of Ruby – A Fifty Shades of Grey Review – From a Vanilla Reader’s Perspective [coming soon]
Filed under: My Personal subMission
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