Fifty shades of gray critique

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by SeverinR, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. SeverinR

    SeverinR Valar Lord

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    50 shades is a very popular book.
    I have heard that it isn't written very well. (I have not read it)

    Anyone read it? what did you think of it from a literary pov?

    Character assessment;
    Plot
    Setting
    description
    cliches?
    Basic grammar?

    Just the basics of writing/story telling.

    Comparing at a best seller compared to what the rules say it should be.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Haven't read it but probably will. Just so I can see what it's like. Been meaning to do that with Twilight as well.

    Oh crap. I said Twilight.

    Thread officially derailed. :)
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Fifty Shades of Gray apparently started as Twilight fanfic, so it's not really a derail :)
     
  4. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istari

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    I will sidestep the potential Twilight argument and say instead that I've heard Fifty Shades is chock full of graphic sex and BDSM stuff. If you're into that then sure, amuse yourself.
     
  5. soulless

    soulless Lore Master

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    From what I hear from the ladies I work with the BDSM is very tame, and there are other much more graphic and intersting novels out there if that's want you want to read. Apart from that its also mentioned a fair bit that the writing isn't really very good either.
     
  6. Benjamin Clayborne

    Benjamin Clayborne Dark Lord

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    I read a few paragraphs in the Amazon preview of the first book. Mulph. The prose style made me want to (virtually) throw it across the room. I didn't get far enough to learn anything about the character development or plotting, because the writing was so awkward.

    I don't know if I'm pickier than average about that kind of thing; considering how popular FSOG is, I don't think most people care quite as much as I do. :)
     
  7. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istari

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    I will never understand how such un-spectacular books like Fifty Shades and Twilight Eragon can garner such a large following. If I ever figure out how it's done I will endlessly abuse the tactic.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    It is all about storytelling, and the ability to effectively tell a story that resonates with readers. Twilight did that well, and I can see how, regardless of whether it was my kind of book. Haven't read 50 Shades. Eragon clearly does the same thing, and the writing quality in that book is so abysmal that it should tell you that telling a story that resonates is far more important than a high technical proficiency with the written word.
     
  9. Sieryn

    Sieryn Apprentice

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    I got the trilogy as a birthday present from my girlfriends (I think they wanted to make me rage about it. They succeeded). It was like watching a trainwreck. I wanted to look away...but I couldn't. I just had to see how poorly concieved it was.

    I honestly have no words for it after finishing the series. It's junk. Not because of the content (JR Ward can write circles around this lady in that arena) but because of the style and execution. The fact that it is so popular frightens me for a number of reasons, audience comprehension levels...proclivity to gravitate toward seriously abusive relationships...lack of real world scenarios and believable characters...I just...

    Blah.
     
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    The reason books like this become popular is usually:

    1. Word of mouth
    2. Accessibility

    Gene Wolfe is a pretty great fantasy writer. However, he's very difficult to read or get into. However, Eragon for me was a very easy read. I didn't finish it, but it was very easy. And I have all the admiration in the world for Paolini, who became such a well-known writer at a young age.

    I think the reason 50 Shades of Grey (which I'll probably download for my Kindle just because...) is popular is because of those two things I listed above: word of mouth and accessibility. I'll go out on a limb and say most readers like to read things for fun. They don't want to be challenged in any way. They just want to be entertained. This is why some silly TV shows have large followings. The other thing is word of mouth. Word of mouth is what got this book noticed, I'm pretty sure. It wasn't some marketing genius. I could be wrong of course.

    I think as writers we should recognize that these books are successful and hopefully try to carve out our own niche as these writers have done. I mean Twilight...

    Ack, nevermind.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Bingo! Easy to read seems to be the crux of it...it's the one thing that Twilight, Hunger Games, Eragon, etc. all have in common. Entertainment trumps all, at least for the mass commercial market, in our modern times.
     
  12. Benjamin Clayborne

    Benjamin Clayborne Dark Lord

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    I have no problem with a book like FSOG being accessible and fun, but why can't the prose also be better? :)

    Or—it horrifies me to suggest this—maybe whatever it is that makes me consider the prose horrible is also what makes it popuar.
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think it is more that it is popular in spite of the prose. I don't know FSG, so I can't comment on it specifically. In general, I think story-telling and relating to the reader will trump quality of prose every time. If you have both, great. If you have the former, but not the latter, you can still do OK. If you have the latter but not the former, you're screwed.
     
  14. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istari

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    Now that you mention it, Eragon and Twilight have mediocre prose too...
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    No, Twilight has mediocre prose. Eragon may be the worst-written book I've ever seen.
     
  16. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istari

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    I retract my earlier statement in favor of this ^
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  17. Whimsical

    Whimsical Acolyte

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    I have read Twilight and I have read the Nook sample for Fifty Shades.... I think Twilight was better written. Accessibility, word of mouth (heck, we're talking about it here), and a lead character that is easily substituted by the reader is are the keys. Bella is barely average in every way possible -- easily replaced in the (young female) reader's imagination with herself. The snippet of FSOG also had a female main character that was unremarkable -- and replaceable. It's all about escape.

    Still... disappointing to think it's surpassed Harry Potter as the best-selling book of all time in Britain
     
  18. Jess A

    Jess A Shadow Lord

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    I am a book seller so this interests me - and our staff, too. None of us liked the books and some of us gave up on the first one very quickly. I could not stomach it.

    I had been away from work (overseas) for some time and I have just recently returned. Two weeks back at work and I have quickly gathered that word of mouth is, in my area, the key to the book's success. People pass it onto others or people read and hear about it. They see it on display and they are compelled to buy it. Many come and tell us how bad the book was, but they couldn't put it down until they got to the end. Reader range is male, female, various ages, various interests, even book snobs.

    As also mentioned above by Phil - accessibility is another thing. We have it displayed everywhere. Most of the big supermarkets sell it. It's available online in print and e-format. And people pass books on. With every new fad, readership grows.

    Accessibility also relates to how easy the book is to read. It is a very quick read, like James Patterson or Dean Koontz.

    Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were accessible to a wider age range, though - from kids to grandparents.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  19. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Dark Lord

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    There should be a virtual room that you can throw books across on your Kindle
     
  20. SeverinR

    SeverinR Valar Lord

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    This is why I started this thread.
    To see if people agreed that the writing ability was nothing great, and why it gained so much popularity so fast.
    I am guessing it might be a safe step into a taboo area for alot of readers. Can't read about a fetish without being parv, but this is a best seller so it must alright.
     

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