Amused Authors

All The Same? by ~ Me ~
December 6, 2008, 5:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I’ve been on a gothic romance kick lately. Does anyone in the world besides me still read books written a couple decades ago?  Apparently not, judging by the rate at which my local library is selling off their used copies.  Even ebay is getting in on the selling action.  I just bought a lot of 23 novels by a particular author the other day — hopefully enough to keep me reading for a month or so (in case you’re curious I stole them at a price of $9.99).  I love winning on ebay.  As Lancelot says, “There is no sweeter taste on thy tongue that victory!” (Shrek 3 if I’m not mistaken.) 


But why this sudden affection for books written by this one author?  It’s taken me awhile but I’ve finally figured out what I like about her novels. Oddly enough, it’s their sameness.  Let’s face it, if you’ve read one novel about the plain but practical governess falling in love with the attractively sinister master of the house while a crazed old nanny runs around in the background trying to kill everybody, you’ve read them all. In fact, as I thought it over this morning, I was unable to come up with one single instance where the hair of a heroine by this author even varies. It’s always straight, thick, and dark. Similarly, the hero is almost without exception tall, dark, and mysterious, and there’s usually some sort of emphasis on his nose.  “Sadistic” is a word she unfailingly uses on all her male characters. It’s as inevitable at the word “sensible” to sum up her female characters.


I don’t say any of this to pick on My Mystery Author.  After all, as the proud purchaser of a “lot of 23 novels” I must be a fan, right?  I’m going on about this because it’s something I’ve noticed lately.  Any time you read a dozen books by the same author you begin to pick out a sameness to them.  There are certain character types who show up in every book, certain situations that always exist. After awhile you can pick the villain out the first time they’re introduced into the story when you aren’t supposed to know whodunit until the end.


For myself I’ve not only accepted this as inevitable, I’ve even learned to enjoy it.  It’s nice coming back to a familiar story, knowing what you can count on any given author to deliver.  It does make me wonder about my own writing though.  Are there certain patterns I use that I don’t myself recognize?  Do the same characters under different names crop up in every one of my books?  How about you?  If you’re a writer, can you pick out any unchanging themes/characters/situations in your work?

Dara England


5 Comments so far
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This is once of the reasons I tend to read books in series – I LIKE the sameness. I find an author who can create a place I want to go, and I will always welcome the chance to go there again. (I also fall in love with certain characters, and want to read about them again and again).

As a writer, I know I do it – hell, I’m writing a sequel to my first contracted novel because I can’t bear to leave my own characters alone.

For all the hue and cry about originality in writing, I don’t think we really crave that at face value. Vampire books, anyone? We all have themes we tend to revisit again and again.

So, I agree with you – those patterns that authors develop are not necessarily a bad thing.

Comment by Elle Parker

I’m another who likes the samness, which is probably why we follow certain TV shows religiously. As an author I also like certain phrases or situations and use them.

Comment by Cassie

I have similar situations, but I’m not giving up the goods! As a reader, I love a writer’s voice, but if the stories start getting to rote, I get irritated. I am pretty sure I own every Johanna Lindsey book and every Christine Feehan book and some of them I confess I own more out of obligation or routine rather than the desire to read them.

Comment by Aubrey Leatherwood

Now this is weird. I was just reading a book (Teaching a Second Language to Young Children) and in it, it says when people read, they aren’t just following along the texts, but jumping back and forth trying to anticipate what is coming later in the text. People who are good readers are good as guessing what’s coming next. “Luckily for readers, however, writers and publishers have long hand an intuitive understanding of the importance of prediction for the reading process.” (Actually, it said “the importance or prediction” but my brain guessed “of” right up until the moment I tried to type it here.) Neat huh?

Comment by Charlotte McClain

The most brilliant historical gothic romance I ever read was “Green Darkness” by Anya Seton (1973) 800 + pages. Since then I’ve read it 3 times. I try to forget all the particulars because I want to read it again someday. What is your favorite novel in this genre? Have you read “Green Darkness”?

Comment by Kathy C

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