Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Old Books are Good Books?

I've just finished reading 'The Pyrates' by George MacDonald Fraser. It was entertaining, interesting and I learnt something about writing and my style of writing, but it feels so old.

Some books date very quickly, others don't date at all. There are also books that reflect the time in which they were written, but are still enjoyed a century later.

'The Pyrates' was written in 1983 and some of its cultural references are old 25 years later. I dare say some of them were old within 10 years.

In the last decade I have also read books by Ismay Thorn and Florence Barclay that have also dated badly, but were still an entertaining, if brief, read.

So what's my point? When writing, don't worry about your book 'dating'. Some of the earliest SF books look quite comical now as they have been overtaken by science and culture, but they are still a thumping good read (War of The Worlds for instance).

Thomas Hardy's books are long-winded as his descriptions of the background are so exhaustive, but they are still great stories. Try writing that level of description now and at such a slow pace. The same can be said for Dickens and many other 19th century authors.

These books have lasted because the story and the characters are strong, as well as being expertly written.

It's our characters and stories that will see our work last, no matter what part of the background later looks odd. (Three legged Martians?)


Tess said...

Good point. Write your best and let the chips fall where they may. All of our work will eventually be 'dated'. What one person calles dated another calles classic, right?

T. Anne said...

Classic is a pending condition each novel aspires to be. Although some books are strictly for entertainment value and that's ok too.