Depending on what writing bible you follow, there are only 3 real plots in the universe – or 12, or 37, or ONE. It doesn’t matter what the number is — the basic idea is distilling EVERY book into its constituent parts
But if you do that, you will reduce practically every book to the same set of criteria in the end. If you pick a book you love and one you loathe and put them both into a pot and boil their bones clean… don’t be surprised that you’ve got two remarkably similar skeletons.
There’s a LiveJournal community which goes under the name of “bookfail,” dedicated to readers talking about books which failed them on some level. The community has shifted a little of late to cover what has been headlined as “overrated authors,” and someone posted this bit distilling a certain author’s book into their constituent parts
“A young, shy man/frustrated girl discovers a parallel fantasy world. This character goes into it to escape the problems of the real world, but finds the fantasy world has its own dangers–though relatively infrequently are those dangers really all that dangerous. It takes a little walking around, but eventually the shy man/frustrated girl figures out the internal logic of the fantasy world, returns to the real world, and then realizes that the fantasy world was better anyhow–typically because there was some other friend or love interest discovered there that the protagonist wants to return to.
…..There you go. This guy has written like 20 books and you have just read all of them. You know, the Hero’s Journey was a lot more interesting of a formula before it was used as a basic escapist defense for people who are lonely, no matter how quirky.”
The poster is talking about Neil Gaiman, and his criticism suggests he just doesn’t like the author or the genre. Love an author or hate an author, but don’t do it because the author doesn’t write the kind of book you like to read.
Neil Gaiman’s books may have a common theme, but by God the man is a master wordsmith and the books are worth reading for the language and the storytelling. This is not to say that they will all be uniformly brilliant but they WILL be worth the journey IF you like that particular kind of cup of tea. If you do not, then none of them will appeal, and why are you reading Neil Gaiman after deciding that he’s not for you?
The author writes what the author writes; a reader reads what the reader reads.
Readers – vote with your feet! Cross the aisle in the bookstore and look for something different if the book you picked up doesn’t appeal.
It’s just as well that there are as many kinds of writers as there are kinds of readers, because all of these varied tastes need to be sated by material . So there’s room for all of us writers out there, seeing as we are not really read by the same audiences.
The only question in reading a work of fiction is: Are you enjoying the journey?