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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Thu 03
Sep
2015

Ways In Which My Novels Suck

Writing

Max, is it actually true that your novels kind of suck?

Anonymous

Yes! You probably refer to those works-in-no-progress I mentioned, which do indeed kind of suck, but the truth is, so do all my novels, at every stage of the process, including at the end, when they’re published. There is no novel I look at and think, “That is just perfect.”

Ways in which I think my novels kind of suck include:

  • The characters do something that seemed plausible at the time but now I’m older/wiser/in a worse mood I don’t think so, so everything is stupid.

  • The first sentence won’t work for people who need to be grabbed right away, or else is too gimmicky for people who don’t like being grabbed right away.

  • There’s nothing I can explicitly put my finger on but I still feel it could be better somehow, like remember that chapter near the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, how come it doesn’t have something like that.

  • I didn’t use the serial comma because I liked how it made sentences seem faster but now I love the serial comma so the whole book is dumb. Similarly: I chose “less” instead of “fewer” because I decided real people never said “fewer” but now I’m like OH YES THEY DO SO YOU WERE STUPID.

I’m sure there are more.

Comments

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Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 805 days ago

Not enough squiggly bits...

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 804 days ago

They can't all be squiggly.

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