One of the most interesting topics discussed, however, was the idea of "plot;" something that I have been over-discussing in both Introduction to English and Playscript Analysis. Teal said that there are several writers today that come up with a simple plot and repeatedly stick to it. "Dan Brown is one of them," he said. "He comes up with the idea that, Character A must accomplish THIS or else character B dies. And then he fits in some things around that to tell his point. And that's basically what all of his novels are."
Honestly, I would have to say that I would agree. Now, I do enjoy Dan Brown novels, don't get wrong. The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons are two of my favorites, and I have read a few of Brown's other books. However, his plots are similar--they are always filled with impeccable twists that carry the conception that "I must do this or else something BAD happens."
Teal elaborated. "Stephenie Meyer does the same thing--she is focused on plot. On story-telling. There is no characterization, there are no symbols, and it certainly isn't good literature. It is a good story." (Something I avidly agree with, and also came to the conclusion of after I read the first Twilight book.) Teal went on. "Essentially, all four of her novels are the same. All of them. It's just fluff; that's all."
"So what does that have to say for the people that read those books?" someone asked.
Our heads eagerly turned back to Teal, who explained that books by Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer have a certain audience in mind. "Those novels are written for certain groups of people, and they are geared to market in large quantities. Twilight wouldn't be what it is without throbs of teenage girls. Dan Brown books wouldn't be what they are without easily pleased readers looking for something exciting, but not 'deep.'"
And, once again, I would have to say that I agree. Yes, I have read Dan Brown books. Yes, I have read the entire Twilight series. However, those books aren't considered as high literature caliber. They certainly are not short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, or even novels by Alice Sebold. Rather, those types of books are the McDonald's of literature. For example, do I really love McDonald's? No. Is it enjoyable to eat there every once in awhile? Yes. Sometimes I find myself craving one of their grease patties (hamburgers). Essentially, books by Stephenie Meyer (and like authors) are junk food. Convenient, but not beneficial.
Teal also added a good point. He said that we should NOT be like Dean Koontz and Danielle Steel; the authors who sit down at their computers and pump out a new novel every few months. "They set up a formula for their novels, and they're sticking to it. All they are doing is plunking in new character names and different settings. I mean, look at their books. They are basically all the same thing, and that is because they know what they're doing. As a writer, you guys don't want to know what you're doing. You always want to try for something new; you want to venture out into the deep and explore ideas and concepts that you're not entirely sure of. That's where creativity comes from."
As much as I would have liked to continue listening to Teal, I had to leave early for another meeting. I had been at the literary salon for a little over two hours, spending the first forty-five minutes nibbling on the food provided and receiving feedback on my poetry. Though I was not able to stay the entire length of the salon, I was very glad to received the feedback I did. I was able to speak to a poetry editor who told me that she really enjoyed my elevated use of language in my writing. I smiled in return, well-aware that that element is my poetical trademark. Lines like "cauterize the ordinary," "crinoline of branches," and "territorial yet benign" are just a few of the lines that she pointed it. "I really like these lines," she said. I just thanked her, proud of myself for trying to remain humble. Two poems, "He" and "Necking in the Ford" need a little work; one requires more distinct characterization, and the other requires a stanza to be rewritten to retain the smooth flow. However, she felt that one poem, "A Sense of Shelter" was a finished product, which thrilled me. Leaving early with me, I thanked the editor for her time. "I really appreciate your criticism," I said. "Thank you so much for reading my work."
The next day, Friday (yesterday), I went ahead and submitted "A Sense of Shelter" to Earthwords, which is currently looking for submissions up until the fifteenth of this month. I also submitted four photographs, as encouraged by a friend who also happens to be an editor at Earthwords.
Overall, I was thrilled to receive outside criticism, and I was glad to hear that I was, for lack of better terminology, "on the right track." I was given specific advice of things to work on, and I am eager to aspire to two more finished poems. I plan to work on them soon, hopefully submitting them to another literary magazine that runs out of the University.