Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sing a Sad Song

I'm beginning to think that readers don't want to be saddened. Crazy, no? It seems like readers don't mind being scared - horror writers can do well financially. And they don't mind being puzzled - traditional mysteries don't sell too badly. But if your book is a heartbreaker - a tear-jerker - then it may not do so well? I'm not sure of this. I happen to have written a couple of heartbreaker type stories in my time. They haven't sold. From this scant evidence, I surmise that the market doesn't support weepers.

Personally, I love the gut-wrenching type. I love it when I invest a lot of emotional capital into a character who fails, actually fails. It doesn't happen often in literature. Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor comes to mind.

Don't get me wrong. A happy end can be a good thing too. Hollywood loves that end, no? But always?

Also, don't get me wrong, I've written novels that end Hollywood style. But when my heroes fall, they fall hard.

This type of story has its own emotional life. Why is it that people liked being scared, but don't like being saddened?

Or am I mistaken?


Blogger Graham Powell said...

You may be onto something here. I like movies with sad endings (BRAZIL, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS), but I'm having a tough time thinking of any novels I've like that were like that. With the possible exception of everything Raymond Chandler ever wrote.

Maybe THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? Although that wasn't sad so much as bleak. I'm sure there are some but I'll be damned if I can think of any right now.

April 08, 2011 9:39 AM  

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