There’s nothing as wonderful as starting a new book and finding yourself totally immersed within the first chapter. Sadly, such books are becoming scarcer than finding a worthy political candidate. I find myself reading more books and enjoying far fewer of them. I used to think that this was caused by self-publishing but this has all the earmarks of a literary evolution.
As a teenager, I made many very caustic comments about the music my parents enjoyed. I mean seriously, they considered yodeling as music? Then again, they were never slow to criticize my own musical choices. The world has moved on and neither of us would find an appreciation for today’s music. The thing is, I believe this generational evolution is happening to more than music, it’s also happening in literature and this change is making it much harder for many of us to find enjoyable fiction.
As an engineer, I look for patterns that repeat, similarities in behavior and of course data. Despite what anyone might want to think, changes in music aren’t driven merely out of a desire to spite our parents. Changes in society drive changes in music. If we’re not in that mainstream, we don’t have a frame of reference for the music and this makes it much harder for us to enjoy. Suppose this evolving behavior isn’t limited to music. I’m wondering if the dearth of good authors (my opinion) isn’t a sign that literary style has left me behind.
Today’s readers are immersed in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and dozens of other entertainment services. Oh, and I certainly can’t ignore influencers, the Judas goats of commerce. None of those lend themselves to character development, plot or story line. In fact, all of those platforms present life as a stream of consciousness with no plot, very few likable characters and almost no character development. Unfortunately, that’s a very accurate description of the last few novels I read.
Not to belabor the point but this change also explains why teaching techniques constantly evolve. The way each generation learns changes as society changes. When I need information, I head straight to the written word, videos are my last resort. Someone born twenty years later probably turns to YouTube as their first choice. Changes in our educational system aren’t driven by better ways to teach children. If those techniques were constantly improving, our educational system would not be the mess it is today. Instead, our educational professionals are constantly chasing a changing society and doing their best to adapt methods that used to work.
If you find this hard to believe consider what has happened to journalism. No in-depth reporting, no fact checking, certainly not anything that forces you to think. I don’t know about the reporters in your area but half the time ours are posting Twitter feeds or shamelessly pimping their network’s latest shows. Certainly sounds like Facebook to me. I can’t even blame them; their job is to get and hold your attention. What choice do they have but to imitate Facebook?
On a personal basis, it’s unfortunate I have so many books instructing me how to be a good writer. While there are still people who believe these books contain deep truths about writing, the books are rapidly becoming as relevant as a music coach telling me that any good Country Western song must contain yodeling.
Even worse, I have to accept the fact that today’s writers, the main stream best sellers, are no longer writing for me. The books I like, the authors I learned to love, the techniques they used, were a product of their time. Society has moved and having moved on, is no more likely to return to my tastes than yodeling is likely to return to mainstream music.
You would think that this realization would make me sad. It certainly makes me feel much older. There is a bright side though. I no longer have to feel disappointed every time I read a book with none of the elements I enjoy. when the book is nowhere near as good as the reviews, I can quit thinking that the good reviews are fake. literature has evolved, just as it should.
It’s not the end of the world. Some authors will still write books with plots, interesting characters, and character development. Fair warning though, these authors and their readers are rapidly disappearing. It won’t happen overnight and like the music that my parents loved, people may no longer be writing in the style I love but the stories won’t go away. You can’t stop this trend but it certainly won’t hurt to let your favorite authors know how much you appreciate their writing and what you really like about their works.© Copyright 2022 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen