Atlas Hugged - How not to write a novel


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Atlas Hugged - How not to write a novel

The headline refers to a poorly-written novel recently released by David Sloan Wilson (the guy who wrote Darwin's Cathedral, a book I like despite it's own pedantic nonfiction style).

The article below explains the novel, gives links to where you can get it (you can get the ebook version for free) and a lengthy excerpt, which is the only part I have read of it.

Ayn Rand Meets Her Match: David Sloan Wilson Fights Fiction with Fiction
A devastating critique of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its impact on the world.

If you are looking for devastation, this is not the article for you. It's just elitist yawp.

I don't want to quote anything, mostly from boredom, but if you read the article and the excerpt, here is a thought to keep in mind.

If you want to write a novel, your main character (or characters) has to have a strong desire, at least one desire strong enough to prompt him or her to act. And he or she has to have something blocking the fulfillment of that desire. This is how transport, or what I call the story trance, starts in the reader. (The base of the story trance is tracking movement and intent/desire).

Wilson opens with a situation that could be comic. This book is the autobiography of John Galt III, who is the grandson of John Galt from Atlas Shrugged. Except John Galt III is opposed to the values of his grandfather.

OK... There's a desire there. But what is the thing impeding him from fulfilling that desire? And here is where the universal dragon of elitist mediocrity raises it's nondescript head before flopping back into the muck of the rinky-dink.

There is nothing.

After the situation is presented, the rest of the opening is John Galt III snarking about "Ayn Rant," and things from her ideas, where there's one punchline to a non-funny joke after another. Paragraphs and paragraphs of it. I'm sure more will happen later, but with a start that gawdawful, I don't think it will get any better.

Note. I am not talking about mischaracterization of Rand's ideas, etc. I'm not talking about her ideas at all. I'm talking strictly in terms of creative writing, fiction writing. 

It is a poorly-written pretentious attempt at storytelling.

This thing is only fit for people who like to snigger at Rand at cocktail parties among a superficial part of the snob class.

Let's put it this way. Murray Rothbard's Mozart was a Red, which is a so-so satire of Rand, suffers from low desire and low blocks of desire among the main characters, but it is the equivalent of Shakespeare at his most passionate when compared to Wilson's sophomoric prattle.

By all all means, get the book and read it if you wish.

I won't.

To quote Rand: And I mean it.

:) 

Michael

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