Is Ted Dekker a plagiarist?

*SPOILER WARNING*

If you haven’t seen the movie Adaptation, then you shouldn’t read this post. But, if you have seen the movie, then here’s my point: you’ve probably already, in a way, seen or red Ted Dekker’s Thr3e. I finished watching Adaptation today, and in it, if you’ve seen it, you’ll recall that the Donald Kaufmann writes a movie script called “The 3” about a detective, a serial killer, and a captive woman, whom end up all being the same person.

Well, when I saw what he titled his screenplay, “The 3”, I thought to myself, “Huh, that’s kind of like that really really crappy movie that came out last year, or maybe the year before that. I can’t remember. In fact it’s starting to make my head hurt. I’m gonna start thinking about this awesome movie before my brain explodes from thinking something too dumb for too long.” Okay, so maybe I did not have that thought in its entirety, but you get the idea. I noticed the similarities. So when that wonderful movie finished, I looked up the plot for Thr3e, yes, including the spoiler. And I was surprised to learn that it had almost exactly the same ending and premise.

Before any Ted Dekker apologists go ranting on me that the book came out after the movie (and I know how many millions of you out there read this blog), I researched that as well, and Thr3e, the novel, came out in 2003, and adaptation came out in 2002. I know that authors can have similar ideas (I commented on this in my Family Guy vs. The Simpsons post), but this seems a little ridiculous, that both Dekker and Adaptation screenwriter Kaufman should have the exact same idea so close in conjunction with each other.

And seeing Kaufman’s originality in other works has me believing it was Dekker who ripped him off. Everyone is always singing me the praises of Dekker as a writer, but I tried reading one of his books, and for the life of me, could not get caught up in the story, despite reading thirty or so pages. When the movie three came out and looked like absolute crap, my confidence didn’t swell for him either.

Anyone out there want to defend Dekker, or, perhaps, comment on this whole plagiarism thing? I know I’m a little late on the uptake, but I’d still be interested to hear anybody’s thoughts on this, because I looked around the web and was unable to find anything besides random blog posts relating to it.

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147 Responses to “Is Ted Dekker a plagiarist?”

  1. I remember this as well and looking into it. I think that book drafts take quite a while longer than the span of time between the two. Publishing, editing, etc. I believe the general consensus was that unless Dekker saw an early draft of the movie, he wouldn’t have had time to steal the plot, as the early drafts before the movie show the same idea.

    Another theory is the opposite, that Kaufman read an early draft of Thr3e, thought it was so stupid he wrote it into the movie.

    Or it could be a funny coincidence.

  2. Dekker Fan Says:

    Except one thing you aren’t realizing…the ARC for Thr3e came out before Adaptation..

  3. I’m trying to add credence to the idea that millions of Ted Dekker fans read your blog by adding a second comment to your three-month-old post. Actually, I have never stumbled across this site before and your blog was just pointed out to me today.

    The process of writing and publishing a book, even for an experienced author, takes anywhere from six months to several years. Ted wrote the first draft of Thr3e in thirty days in a trailer in the mountains of Colorado, writing approximately 8 hours a day every day. With revisions and editing, the process took about six months. I’m not sure how long after that it was that Thr3e was actually published. Several of Ted’s books are not published until a year or two after they are written. He is currently writing a novel called Green that will be out in the fall of 2009. However, his recent novel Adam (released this spring) was a work in progress all the way back in 2005 (under the working title Dead, Dead).

    Here’s the thing: not even a mediocre artist in any genre would purposely rip off somebody else’s work so closely and not make any attempts to disguise it. If Ted really plagiarized the idea of “The 3,” don’t you think he would’ve tried to hide this fact by giving his book a different title? Isn’t it more likely that because personality disorders make for interesting stories, and because there are no new ideas out there anymore, more than one creative person might have come up with a story based on basically the same idea?

    You made your judgment on Kaufman by seeing a number of his works, yes? You made your judgment on Dekker by reading thirty pages of one book, and that book wasn’t even Thr3e, as I understand. Doesn’t sound like you’ve made much of a balanced effort, in my opinion.

    If you like, feel free to state your opinion on Ted’s message board: http://www.teddekker.com/site.php?&content=community&sub=board&com=board

  4. I didn’t say I *had* made a balanced effort – this post wasn’t necessarily meant to assault Dekker personally as a writer – yeah, I know thirty pages is not enough to judge someone’s entire body of work on, but the point of this blog was just pointing out how I found the whole thing to be vaguely interesting. Thanks for your comment, btw. The stuff about Dekker’s writing process was helpful.

    • Dekker’s works are incredibly original – I have read every book he has ever written. Dekker would not purposely plagiarize anyone. Zoe’s point is valid, though I take the liberty of expanding it, which I believe I can as a writer myself – no TRUE writer would plagiarize ANYONE’s work. There are the low and dishonest, unworthy to be called writers, who publish other’s work as thier own, seeking money, fame, and publicity for themselves. Dekker is NOT one of these people. Yes, it is an interesting coincidence that requires research, but no one is entitled to accuse anyone else of plagiarism after reading 30 pages of a book (not even THR3E) and only knowing the summary of THR3E. Please, Brandon, PLEASE do your research. Yes, this is a blog – no, it does not entitle you to accuse people of crimes.

  5. Working for Ted has given me a good bit of insight into the publishing process, because that’s the part that takes a long time. Once a book has gone through initial editing and revising, it is released in the form of an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) or “galley” and distributed to a small number of people, usually for marketing purposes so that preliminary reviews can be put up before the book is released to the public. I have received ARCs from Ted as much as a year before a book’s publication date, but I wasn’t working for Ted yet when Thr3e came out so I don’t know what the timeline of that book was from conception to publication.

    You noted that Adaptation came out in 2002 and Thr3e was published in 2003. To be more specific, Adaptation was released in early December of 2002 and Thr3e was released in June 2003. In order for Ted to plagiarize the idea, unless of course he saw a very early advanced screening somehow, he would’ve had to see the movie the day it came out, written Thr3e immediately afterward, finishing by the end of January, and then gotten it approved, edited, revised, published as an ARC, reviewed by critics, revised again, marketed, and published, in five months. That’s not very reasonable.

  6. *mutters something about editing comments* Sorry, that would be beginning of June 2003 for Thr3e’s publication and end of December for my proposed timeline.

  7. Justin Says:

    Why hasn’t anyone accused Kauffman of ripping the idea off of Ted. Maybe Ted knew him and told him about the idea and went and made a movie about it.

  8. A Ted Dekker Reader Says:

    I don’t have anything to comment about the plagiarism even though i think your completely wrong. If you say when you read Ted’s books you cant get into them after reading only 30 pages you need to read more. I love his books, but his book showdown i didnt get into in till the end and his other books it takes atleast 80-100 pages to get fully into it and once you do i think you’ll really enjoy them…anyways hope you try reading one again.

  9. iluvatar Says:

    i just read three solely due to the urgings of my father. He insisted ted dekker is a brilliant novelist and has therefore read all his books. so i read 3 but unlike you i saw adaptation back in 02 and as i slodged through the cliche plot it dawned on me that this is the exact same story as donalds stupid screenplay “the three”.

    You only learn small points about “the three” in the movie. What you do find is that it culminates in a scene in a basement where the killer and the hero and the girl are the same person. ” The only idea more overused than serial killers, is multiple personality.” notes Kaufman.

    When you look at the timing of the movies production and release and then the books, the movie came first. the question is, does ripping off what is mabye 3or 4 lines , and a title actually plagiarism? i think its more the idea for the thing that matters. The whole plot , in my opinion was pilfered by dekker. and isnt thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not covet written down somewere inportant?

  10. Gorgina Says:

    I think that he is the best and that he is not a plagarist ok
    so whatever. suckers! 🙂

  11. Ted Dekker Posse Says:

    You must realize, Adaptation came out in 2002… if Thr3e CAME OUT in 2003, when do you think he was writing it?

  12. Hello-

    I have more than a passing familiarity with Ted Dekker and his work. I’ve forced myself to read 3-4 of his books, including Thr3e, and find his prose undendurably bad. The guy just cannot write for sh*t. Here’s what he CAN do, and this is more important, from a marketing standpoint: He can tell a pretty good story, and he is a brilliant, brilliant businessman. Did he plagarize Adaptation? No- I believe he borrowed the idea, though. You don’t have to wait for a movie to come out to be aware of the plot. Don’t think that movies in production are closed shops and no one is aware of the details of the screenplay, which itself can be kicking around for years before getting greenlighted.

    He also borrowed form science fiction titan Philip K. Dick for Blink. Dick’s story was released as the movie Next sometime in the last year. It’s premise and Blink’s premise are EXACTLY the same: a man has the ability to see into the future- but only a few minutes into the future. Ted then created his own story around that key premise, which he never could have come up with in a million years.

    Remember, Dekker’s chief gift is that of a businessman. Does it bother me that he borrows ideas from storytellers more gifted than he is? Does it concern me that he’s getting as rich as Croesus from his half-baked prose? Not in the least. For one, he has a great following amongst youth who otherwise might be getting involved in drugs or worse. He presents stories with a Biblical worldview, and that can’t be bad. Kurt Vonnegut once said that writers all cheerfully rip one another off. Ted does the same thing, and when he yokes it to his marketing savvy, that means big bucks for him, and fun stories for youth who don’t really care about well-crafted prose.

    Is Ted a visionary? No. Is he a brilliant writer? “Hack” no. Does he give pleasure to a lot of people who appreciate that? Yes. I hate his books, but still follow his career with fascination. His work will probably not last beyond his lifetime, but hey, who cares? He’s struck a goldmine using his businessman’s savvy. So more power to the dude.

  13. Kudos, Wemedge. I think your comment is a good way of bringing the different views and ideas that have been written in this comments section.

    I’d like to apologize to anyone who loves Ted Dekker – I wasn’t trying to attack the guy or anything, and admittedly, I should not judge his entire body of work based on just about 30 pages. I’m just usually very skeptical about Christian “fantastic” literature – most of the time, the writers just use the label of “Christian” as an excuse to write for pure shit (remember the atrocious Left Behind series? – and the same thing happens in movies – remember “Facing the Giants?”) Even Frank Peretti, who I thought was once once of the best spiritual warfare writers in the past decade, has dumbed down his work. He collaborated on a book with Ted Dekker, called “House” (which I actually did read ), and though I found it to be an effective chiller, as an original piece of scare literature it failed – recycling haunted house cliche after haunted house cliche, all ending in an cataclysmic explosion of spirtiuality whose very over-the-topness instantly killed its meaning. I don’t know whose fault it was that House was so unoriginal, but my point is that House still did not make me want to read Dekker any more than his other book did.

    In any case, I think it’s awesome that so many of you stepped up to defend good ole’ Ted – it’s made me start to think again about picking up one of his books again.

    And by the way, Wemedge, I think the Vonnegut quote is awesome. It’s so true.

    That’s all from me for now. I’m going to leave the comments section open in case anyone has any new insights to share, but please don’t retread any ground we’ve already covered. Peace.

  14. Thanks, Brandon.

    I think you’re brave to suggest that Ted is not the genius a lot of people think he is. By the way, most of you, perhaps due to age considerations, or not having a great familiarity with American literature, may not realize where the name “Wemedge” comes from. It was the nickname, in his early years, of the greatest prose stylist of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway. His worldview sucked, but his style has so influenced and infiltrated the writing of journalists and authors that we don’t even notice it. Anytime you see short, declarative sentences and tight, image-packed prose, you’re looking at Hemingway’s legacy. Now there’s a guy whose work has stood the test of time.

  15. First of all, I am a Ted Dekker fan, and therefore extremely biased. But I’d like to think that I’m not an imbecile, so I resent the idea that he can’t write. No his books aren’t reminisent of Shakespeare. They aren’t supposed to be. But that’s really beside the point because more than the idea that he’s a bad writer I truly resent the suggestion that he is a liar.

    Dekker also has a book where a character can move objects with his mind. Are you going to accuse him of plagarising George Lucas? No. Because Lucas probably wasn’t even the first one to come up with that idea and he certainly won’t be the last to use it.

    When I was in Junior High I came up with a brilliant idea for a story about a guy who travels back in time to hunt down a girl who would eventually save the world in the future. When I told my mother about my brilliant idea, she listened patiently and then explained that it was a great story, but it had already been taken by someone else and was now a movie called The Terminator (which I had never seen at that point in my life). Sometimes people have the same great ideas other people have. It happens.

    As for Blink being a ripoff of Next, I Wikipediaed Next and found out it was based off a book called “The Golden Man” which, according to Wikipedia, is NOTHING like Blink. And “The 3”? Never heard of it. But I doubt Ted would be dumb enough to steal a story and then only remove one word from the title.

    And Brandon- if House was the “thirty pages” you read, give Ted another shot. House is by far my least favorite of his books. I would suggest the Circle Trilogy or Adam. Showdown is my personal favorite, but it’s a bit too gritty for some people if they aren’t used to Ted’s style. Which doesn’t suck, by the way.

  16. I get where Brandon and Wemedge are coming from, but I don’t think their arguements are strong enough in my opinion. Zoe already told about how long it takes for certain books to be published after writing. I agree with what Vonnegut says about ripping eachother off, but in today’s day and age it is hard to do what no one else has. I’m not saying authors can’t be original anymore, but what I am saying is that it is much harder.

    I think Ted is a fantastic writer and I love his books. I don’t care if some ideas are old, he uses them in his own way. For ex. with the circle trilogoy he uses the idea of two realities, but the way he uses it is great I think. It also depends on what you like to read and don’t like to read in my opinion

    I’m not trying to say that anyone is wrong, all I am saying is what I believe.

  17. I don’t want to retreat too much ground as I’ve already given my closing thoughts on the matter (which I think still apply), but I will say that someone seeing a few seconds into the future and telekinesis are not comparable – telekinesis was a staple in superhero/fantastic/science-fiction literature long before Lucas appropriated some of it for his Jedi. And just because no idea is completely original, doesn’t give you the excuse to just do whatever- you have to be conscious of what came before you and what surrounds you – that’s why the best writers read hundreds upon hundreds of books, thousands and millions even, in their lifetime. If you come up with an idea on your own and it happens to have already been put in use, well, you just move on once you realize this. You come up with another idea. And another. And another. And another. Until you’ve written something that is as much your own as it can possibly be.

    Secondly, I’m not trying to say his book should be reminiscent of Shakespeare. Why is it that whenever someone attacks a prominent and beloved piece of literature one of the first things sais is always, “well, just because it’s not high art like Shakespeare and Hemigway doesn’t mean it’s not good! – you guys are snobs!” I’m not saying you called me a snob, but I have noticed this argument many times before, and it’s simply not a valid one – I love many different kinds of books, old and new, and my suspicions of Dekker and his talents are not in any way based on his writing style not resembling everybody’s favorite bard/poet – they’re based on stylings I’ve observed about his writing and how sometimes it seems to fail the test of good writing.

    And I read all of House, not just thirty pages. The thirty pages I read were Black.

  18. And what exactly is “the test of good writing”? It’s not how many people read the books, the Twilight series has proved that much. Ted Dekker’s books are really important to me because, at the risk of sounding Jesus-Freakish, they have helped me out spiritually at times when I really needed it. As far as spiritual role models go, Ted is right up there with C.S. Lewis for me. That’s why I am so upset at him being called a plagarist.

    Will Ted Dekker books be read a hundred years from now? Maybe not, but does that really matter if the effects of reading them are eternal?

  19. I never said that the test of good writing was how many people read the book. The test of good writing is many things – simple things like grammar and sentence structure to broad things like originality and thoughtfulness. And the same goes for Dekker books. Even if they do something eternally it doesn’t change the fact that it may sometimes be bad writing.

  20. Charlie Kaufman and Ted Dekker are probably not friends. That was mentioned as a possibility. Not likely. But who knows?…
    Even if it wasn’t plagiarized, I find it kind of ironic and amusing that there are simularites between the two “3’s” given that Kaufman’s intent in “Adaptation” was to mock such a title and plot-driven, cliche premise.

    I am not knocking Dekker or his fans. I’m just suggesting that it never hurts to expand your readership and explore new and different pieces of literature. You won’t regret it. Open yo mind to a variety of works from different minds!

  21. Ted Dekker Says:

    Wow… Fascinating to read comments from the real world, trying to peek into mine via my stories. It’s like some kind of freakish plot gone real. It’s rare for me to actually enter into discussions like this, but why not?

    A couple comments for the curious:

    1) My first few books received NO marketing. I remember being so depressed when they came out because you could hardly find them. I kept my head down and wrote. And I wrote some more, ignoring my growing frustration at the publisher. Then I got a call that informed my my first novel had slowly climbed onto the bestseller’s list. How? Word of mouth. I’ll gladly accept the designation of being a brilliant businessman, but in reality I’m nothing more than a passionate artist who succeeded in business because of that passion.

    2) Good novels aren’t judged by grammar or any such nonsense, all accomplished writers know that. Any grammar that you read in books like mine have been edited by the best who know this as well. They do fix bad grammar on occasion, but rarely because it’s usually intended. It’s called speaking the language of the people. Using dialogue, introspection, and narrative in way that’s consistent with their own understanding of language. It took me a few years and about a million words to figure that out, but I finally did. Whenever someone criticizes Patterson or King or whoever with this kind of thing, they only show their lack of experience. It’s amusing to those of us who’ve been there and done that. (I used to be a fine critic until I learned how to write) but it’s amazingly common. Some just don’t understand what effective fiction authoring is all about. Entertainment: If you like it, it’s good. Done.

    3) Originality? Good grief, how would I know? I haven’t read most of what I get accused of ripping off. Adaptation? I finished writing Thr3e long before it came out. Next? Blink was out way before. I swear someone in Hollywood is on my mailing list 🙂 They say nothing is new… maybe they’re right. I just…. Create. Make stuff up. I paint what I see and if your face ends up in there, so be it.

    I just finished BoneMan’s Daughters. My editors in New York are crazy about it. I love it. Is it new? YES! Brand spanking new. Is it original? YES! Fantastically original. Has it been done before? YES! Everything has been done before, that’s why we write their stories. I don’t know who’s written a novel remotely similar to this before, but out of the millions of thrillers written, there has to be something at least somewhat similar out there.

    4) And finally, good stories are judged by the masses who read them, not the few, like mothers, critiques or jealous writers. I can’t really tell you why several million readers love the way I deliver story. I can tell that nearly all my mail tells me I bring story to life in ways that many readers have never experienced before, and they become eager fans of that kind of writing. But why, I don’t really know. I just write. I don’t need the money, I don’t need the pats on the back, I don’t need much.

    Just to write.

    Dive Deep.

  22. Thanks for the comment, but I have to respectfully disagree with you on several points – first and foremost, that I have been writer for far longer than I have been a “critic” – I started writing when I was eleven years old, and started “reviewing” only about two years ago (I’m 22). And I don’t think that “good stories are judged by the masses who read them” – if that were true, Twilight and Eragon would be on nearly the same level of such fantastic modern fiction as Ray Bradbury’s, Richard Matheson, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – which I don’t really believe they are. Worse than that, cinematic tripe such as Transformers (which, admittedly, I liked, but it’s mere entertainment, not art) would be all the way up there too. There is good and bad writing – would you have a twelve-year old correct a paper you had written, have them absolutely love every inch of it, and then turn it in to a professor or someone who knows more about writing and complain to them when they give you a D minus? No, of course not – the paper may have seemed like it was the world to that young kid (no, I’m not comparing Dekker’s writing to a twelve-year old’s, so please nobody freak out about that), but that’s only because that young kid only knew a visceral reaction and not a careful thought out process.

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/09/critic_is_a_fourletter_word.html

    That’s a link to Roger Ebert’s blog – where he talks about the stigma critics receive for trying to help people make more carefully thought out choices in movies, books, etc. I’ve never been able to put why I’m a critic as eloquently as he has, but for those interested, the link explains my thoughts on the subject.

    Next, I have to say I resent (and think you’re waaaay off the mark) when you insinuate that those who can’t write, critique. I know for a fact this isn’t true because one of my friends and a fellow wordpress blogger, Jeffrey Overstreet, absolutely loves movies and critiquing and writing reviews of them – and he recently came out with two fantasy novels that contain some pretty damn good writing – exquisitely beautiful, I would even say. That, and even reviews themselves can be beautifully written – if “goodness” is judged solely what the masses decide, then I guess Sneezing Panda, Dramatic Gopher, Numa Numa guy, and Star Wars Kid on youtube all have the status of such modern classics like Lord of the Rings.

    Next, nobody said you ripped off “Next.” Someone said you ripped off Phillip K. Dick’s short story, which DID come out waay before Blink. This also brings me to my next point – writers, first and foremost, read – so that you can be original – true originality is of course completely impossibly in the writing world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s your duty as a writer to be aware of ideas and stories that already exist out there – if you say, “hey, I’m gonna write a story about nine people who travel across vast fantasy lands to destroy an evil piece of jewelry” – and you’ve never heard of Lord of the Rings, and you don’t tell anyone about this story, and you write and publish it, and people attack it for being a rip-off of Lord of the Rings, well, you can’t just throw up your hands and say, “Oh well, I didn’t know!” Those people would have every right to attack your work for being unoriginal – because it was up to you, as the writer, to research classic and famous novels, ideas, short stories, and films before writing – obviously you can’t read or watch everything – but you can read and watch a lot – and on top of that, the more good literature and film you watch, the better your writing becomes – why do you thihk people like Shakespeare are famous still today – not because some fickle crowd-minded populace decided his fame, but because there’s something lasting about his writing that went beyond that small time frame – if you are indeed Ted Dekker, and this is actually how you approach writing (and I won’t lie – I’m pretty doubtful that you’re him), then I have a hunch that your writing, as it stands in novels now, won’t be remembered a hundred years down the road (not saying my writing will either), because good writing requires dedication and a continual decision to improve one’s own self – if the only thing I did was write, without thought to what’s good or bad, I wouldn’t become a better writer – I’d become a stale one.

    And finally, with the condescending way you just spoke to me, I really really really don’t think you’re Ted Dekker. That, and Dekker writes spiritual novels, doesn’t he? Wouldn’t you think there’d be one mention of God in his entire comment – but there isn’t.

    Nice try, “Ted.”

  23. *doesn’t mean it’s not your duty

  24. And also, I never accused King of being a bad writer – I’ve read a couple of his books and I actually think he’s an extremely good writer – way better than Dekker. As for Patterson, I have only read the first two books of the Maximum Ride series by him, and the writing in both was pretty dang bad. I’ve heard the books he writes for adults are better, though.

  25. scottie Says:

    I have only been reading Teds books for a couple of years, still trying to catch up on the rest of his books. My point here is I am an analytical type, I read Ted’s books within two days of getting one. My wife on the other hand, is not at drawn in by Ted’s books, she like to read other things, she’s not analytical at all. If you want to get a real feel for Ted’s books brandon, try reading the circle series:red,black,white

  26. Ted Dekker Says:

    Whoa, whoa, Brandon. I should back away, but before I do, just one clarification. I didn’t realize I was writing to you personally, but to a sector in society that looks at the world differently than I and the people I grew up with looked at it. So much of this is subjective. I honestly meant no offense and shouldn’t have reacted to being slimmed. It’s all in good fun, I’m sure.

    Here’s where I sit:

    Art is judged by the audience, and yes, that’s my opinion. I grew up with cannibals. For over a thousand years they lived without knowing the rest of the world existed, but they have a wonderful sense of their own art and entertaiment.

    Unfortunately for many in this society, one look at their art and or writing would garner a harsh critique. The writing, though highly lauded among the audience it was written for, would be trashed by others who don’t appreciate their sensibilities. I’ve never met a westerner that liked it. There, like here, the artisans gain stature in society based on how many women and men and children sit around the fires talking about their work. If the audience likes it, they talk about it, and this is how art works its way into history.

    So who should judge their art? Me? You? God? Is there some standard up in the sky that determines good and bad art?

    The best judge is the audience. If they love it, they make more of it. Who am I to criticize the work of artists who’ve found an audience? If a Martian were to look at earth and judge what makes great books, they would likely say the world at large deem James Patterson to be one of the best writers alive today, why else would over 10,000,000 read his books this year alone?

    Clearly the audience has spoken: They like Patterson.

    That’s really my primary point. Can Stephanie Meyers write well? Well, for the millions who love her writing, YES! I’m reading Twilight right now and her style is very simple compared to mine, but that doesn’t mean I’m better or worse. Some readers like me better, some like her better.

    The people I grew up with would hate my stuff, guaranteed. They would hate Shakespeare. Are they right or wrong? How silly. I don’t write for them, and I don’t write for you, clearly. I write for the millions of readers who can’t wait for my next novel. It’s very simple. They and I share a language that we both love.

    My other thought is regarding authors who boldly criticize other authors. The fact is, the authors you mention above (Preston etc.) have learned with me, that criticism the works of any author who’ve gained the respect of a large audience is… silly. The only writers who do so are typically those who’ve never truly found an audience in society at large. I have no idea how many people read your novels, so you may be an exception to this, but for the most part well-read authors realize that just because they don’t like one group’s treasure doesn’t mean it’s not a treasure.

    No matter who simplistic or childish you may think of them, the writings of my friends in Indonesia are every bit as good as Shakespeare’s, mine, yours or Stephen King’s. And we all share one thing in common, published or not: Many would think that what we write is utter nonsense. Many others would love it.

    Now you might say, yeah but that’s in Indonesia, not here. Exactly my point: The Audience determines, not critics. So long live Stephanie Meyer! Long live James Patterson. Long live Dean and Nora and Stephen King who as been slammed by the elite more times in his career than most authors.

    Art is subjective. It has always been so, it always will be so, thus the old cliche, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Once this sinks in, an artist is very unlikely to take swings at others artistic expressions.

    You and I would probably make great friends, Brandon. I love people who think past the obvious and you strike me as a very intelligent person. I wish you the best success in your novels — may droves of readers weep and laugh with you through your stories. It’s a trip.

    Ted

  27. You’ll understand if I don’t quite believe yet that you’re Ted Dekker – and if you are, well, you’ll understand – people have claimed to be famous to me before, and it’s never been them – the amorphousness of the internet allows nearly anybody to claim they’re anybody they want. Anyways, to move along with responding to your comment:

    I still don’t agree with you that great literature is solely defined by the masses – but I do see your point, and I do agree with you that, to an extent, but I also believe that good writers have a desire to become better and to grow as writers – it’s easy to be a writer, all you have to do is write, but to be a good writer, I think that’s something else. If hundreds of millions of people read your books, but you just keep churning out them out without trying to do anything different, and instead just surfing on the waves of giants, well, seems to me you’re cheating your millions of fans out of your best – and if, by your definition of what good literature is, and the audience is the art, then how much of a good writer are you if you refuse to give your audience your absolute best – part of what constitutes good writing is whether or not it’s lazy – and lazy writing can be evident in some writers’ writings. Stephenie Meyer wrote and published Twilight almost accidentally – and took barely any time in between the books, and her lack of effort shows – sure she worked her but off to get all those books out in time, but every real writer will tell you that stories, papers, books, sometimes just need to sit and simmer so you can come back for a fresh perspective and a better ability to discern errors, impossible-to-ignore errors like continuity, grammar and spelling, examples of cliched writing, and so forth – in this cannibal land you speak of, where stories were told around the fire, do you think they were completely without some kind of way of discerning whether or not they liked a story? If you told the same story three days in a row, and then on the fourth day told a different story, but one that stole plot points and events liberally from the first, do you think no one would notice? Of course they would – which is part of what I was talking about, how being a good writer also means being good reader, being aware of what came before. The Twilight series has not made half as much as Harry Potter, and more than half the amount of books have come out and readership has steadily declined for each of them, with a whole horde of fans being disappointed in the last one – what do you call that, when even your definition of what makes good literature fails that? Would you say, “oh well, there’s still a few million more! They count, too!” Except that doesn’t work, because you can’t just abandon your previous thesis about the audience mattering and then dumping it when it doesn’t serve your convenience. When a book’s audience fluctuates, how do you explain that? Does the goodness of the literature fluctuate? How many people have to read a novel for it to be good?

    I think my problem with people like James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer, and especially Patterson, is that they don’t seem to try – especially Patterson, who by now is older and seems to just be writing in a rut – and his Maximum Ride series, though selling millions, was laughablyy bad – he could have written a far far better novel for teens, but he chose not too and instead gave us lazy tripe.

    So that’s my next point – if art is merely and entirely subjective (and I agree with you that it is, but only to a point), then what do you when the author doesn’t seem to be trying or doesn’t seem to care?

  28. Oh yeah, and when I said I was suspicious that you hadn’t mentioned God, I was not talking about in relation to great literature, but in relation to just you as a person and the reason you write. If you write spiritual novels, I should hope you write them because you hope they’ll bring people to God and grow more as people, not merely for sales…..

  29. Ted Dekker Says:

    Okay, one more… I can’t resist.

    First off, I am Ted. Just am. I know me, and you know extremely little about me, as little as I know about you. So this is all just an interesting exercise.

    You’ve said a lot, but l think you still misunderstand my point. Sorry for not being clearer. Let me try to respond, my opinion only, to on comment of yours.

    You wrote: “When a book’s audience fluctuates, how do you explain that? Does the goodness of the literature fluctuate? How many people have to read a novel for it to be good?”

    I say: ONE person has to have read and LOVED a novel for it to be good for that audience.

    Make sense now? That’s my whole point… Art is subjective. If someone reads something and loves it, it’s good in their eyes. If a million read a novel and nine hundred thousand love it, it’s good in their eyes and not so good in a hundred thousand eyes. An audience judges for themselves what is good.

    Some things that I love, you hate. Somethings you love, I hate. Just a fact. You would probably hate my people’s music in the jungle, but those that love it, love it. It’s, to them, good.

    Better is also judged by the same audience. Many people say my latest book is far superior to anything I’ve written. That’s their judgment and I may disagree, in fact often do. But that’s okay.

    As I writer I massage a book for a year before it comes out. I frequently rewrite whole sections even after the publisher has accepted and typeset it. Green, due out a year from now, is complete and I’m rehashing major parts of it, just because that’s what I do. I’m a perfectionist and am constantly tweaking as the months roll by. I’ve only begun to tell story and I hope my readers grow with me.

    That’s all fine, but it doesn’t make anything better or good for my audience unless they determine it to be better or good, and even that will vastly vary depending on which reader is doing the reading and judging.

    Cool? Either way… Rock on. Writing is a fantastic gift. We will both use it in our own ways to express love beauty and truth.

    BTW, saw your YouTube video. Iron Man review. At least I think that was you 🙂 Cool.

  30. Why does goodness have to be subjective? For example, there are certain kinds of music I hate, like country, however, I recognize the effort and art involved and think that it is technically good, just not for me. See what I’m talking about? I maintain that there’s a difference between something being of good quality and something of being enjoyable – example, I love Citizen Kane – I think it’s stood the test of time and is one of the best movies of all time – however I will watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II more often because I find it more enjoyable – why? I would never classify Turtles II anywhere near as high as CK on quality list. If art is only what people enjoy, then there’s nothing higher to strive for, and I think I can safely say, with the genre you’re writing in and the kind of background I’m in, that we believe in some kind of higher ultimate beauty that perhaps we use our gifts as writers to express (yes, I’m bringing God into the equation – I think it’s fair), and if there is an ultimate good then I think there can be levels of what is good, if only in terms of how much effort is clearly put in – Stephenie Meyer’s books were written quickly and nearly solely for profit – that was not art, that was sales. If she had invested more time in those books, dare I say it, it could have been a weirdly timeless teenager vampire love song – teenage books have the power to create timeless tales nowadays, we’ve seen that – Harry Potter alone through sales and criics and fans praising it as being timeless demonstrates this, and JK Rowling demonstrated in her writing as she grew that she was putting clear effort into her books – they get darker, the writing gets bolder, the plots get thicker and the characters always get more interesting. Even if you hate JK Rowling and don’t enjoy her style, there has been clear development in her writing from the first book she wrote to her latest. Which is, in fact, the general consensus. Not so with Stephenie Meyer – who has shown no clear development over the course of her teenage novels. They remain empty and even disappoint loyal fans. Does that count for nothing whatsoever? I still maintain that it’s kind of two-faced to say that if you please one audience member that matters, but to say that displeasing them matters not one bit? If there is obviously some kind of “good” in your view, in one audience member enjoying a book or a movie, is there not “bad” in displeasing someone? Once you have set up the possibility of something being good you have set some kind of standard by which something “bad” can be measured.

    And thanks, glad you enjoyed my Iron Man review.

  31. Ted Dekker Says:

    Okay, back to my friends in the jungle. If art can be judged by a non-subjective standard, then what is that standard to say about their art? Take their music. Let’s assume you listen and HATE it. Let’s say 99% of Americans listen and HATE it. Is it good by your higher standard or is it bad?

    And who determines this? God?

    Fact it, their music sucks in our subjective experience. We classify it as substandard because of our own experience, much like many classified Mozart’s music back in the day.

    Let’s just stick to the Dani people I grew up with. Who decides if their art is good or bad? If you say they do, then you’re agreeing with me. Art is subjective.

    If you say God does, I suppose we still agree, because in matters of art we don’t know his mind.

    If you say Americans who’ve been to higher education and have a degree should decide if Dani art is good or bad, then you and I will have to disagree.

    I totally believe in good versus evil, in fact I’m known for those beliefs. But art, hair color, choice of shoes, aesthetic choices… for the most part these are amoral. Subjective.

  32. I lived in Africa for about five or six years total out of my life, all the way from village, to small town, to big city experience, so I have heard all kinds of different music from around the world and though each is different, different standards exist in each. I also lived in Switzerland and Portugal for for about four or five years of my life, and down in LA and Texas for a few others – so by no means am I ignorant when I talk about quality and standards – I’ve seen the different standards around the world, but I do believe that there can be garnered certain similarities between them that we can appreciate and cultivate – because if art is truly purely subjective and one person loving an object instantly places it on the level of a Beethoven symphony or a Shakespeare tragedy, then what’s the point of striving for more? Nothing. People like me and other writers (and I know a couple of published writers personally who believe what I do about writing) who actually try to become better and frown at past work we have completed when it is not as “good” as we think it should be, we can just pack up our bags and go home, because you’re going to tell me that a D- minus paper that a college kid barely put any effort into, if one person who knows nothing about writing loved it, then it’s just as good as what we’ve put our life’s work into? Something’s missing from the picture here. But within these different standards, similarities can be seen – originality is valued in nearly every case, even a kid who has seen a movie will notice it a new movie he sees is the same but not as good, even tribal people will get bored if the same exact story is told over and over – therefore, something can be derived of that, originality – it may come out in different forms, and there are contextual exceptions like how the purposes of something is specifically to defy originality. This comes out differently across the world, of course, but you get my point. Art is subjective to an extent, but not entirely so.

    And by the way, if 99% of Americans hate it, that says nothing, because if something brand new is introduced a large percentage of Americans will not have the contextual faculties to process this new data – but once the situation could be studied and understood, you’d find similarities between how each culture classified something as “good.” Besides, if something brand new was introduced, America is such a melting pot that there’s no way that high of a percentage could hate it – living in Seattle you come to understand how there’s a market and a need for nearly literally everything.

  33. Oh, and by the way, here’s a link to a page on Jeffrey Overstreet’s bog – the author that I know who just published two fantasy novels (and has a book on beauty, truth, and evil in movies out), and still believes that art is more than just what one person says is “good.” I think you should take the time to read this link – it’s timely and I’d honestly like to hear you respond to points raised in it.

    http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/why-do-you-have-to-analyze-everything-why-cant-you-just-enjoy-it/#more-4651

  34. Ted Dekker Says:

    Funny how much you and I agree, but you still aren’t understanding my point. I, like you, slave over perfection. IN MY OWN CRAFT. FOR MY AUDIENCE. I’m sure I would agree with your writer friends.

    Just because something is subjective doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be perfected, but for WHOM? WHO decides if it’s better. My point is you and your audience does.

    This feels a bit like I’m arguing with my daughter, Rachelle who is 22 years old and getting married in 6 months. She’s like me 🙂

    Okay, Brandon, just answer the questions I posted in my last post. Think about these questions for a day or two, then answer them. Very simple, very direct. Answers like US, or THEM. That’s all I’m looking for.

    Here we go, pasted from above:

    “Let’s just stick to the Dani people I grew up with. Who decides if their art is good or bad? If you say THEY do, then you’re agreeing with me. Art is subjective.

    If you say GOD does, I suppose we still agree, because in matters of art we don’t know his mind.

    If you say AMERICANS who’ve been to higher education and have a degree should decide if Dani art is good or bad, then you and I will have to disagree.

    If your answer requires lengthy explanation, it’s probably misguided. Just be precise. WHO decides what’s good?

    Peace.

  35. Art is subjective in that different cultures decide what’s good, but it is not subjective in the sensethat there are similarities in HOW they decide what’s good – and from there we can pull ways to see what’s “universally” good.

  36. Ted Dekker Says:

    Then we are in agreement. Each culture and or sub culture defines what is good.

    So we are on the same page after all.

    Many cultures in this world are only a few hundred strong. If they all love a certain kind of dance which looks stupid to you or I, so be it. They judge, not we. And they decide by whatever evokes some form of attraction to the art, various qualities that they find either pleasing, or stimulating, or challenging to greatness in some way.

    The point is, the audience is the only ultimate judge. The fact of the matter is Shrek took an incredible amount of artistry, just watch the behind the scenes footage. I didn’t like it nearly as much as my high school kids. But the huge amount of artistry that went into the movie wasn’t for me, rather a different audience. Was it great? It was fantastic! Just look at how many people stood up and cheered! (referring to your friends article.) Just because I didn’t means little to those who did.

    Same with my friends in the jungle who do some of the moronic looking dances imaginable to attract women and please audiences. To me it’s crap. I don’t get it. I think it’s unrefined. Barbaric. Simplistic and uneducated.

    To them it’s magical. I like you, used to slam writers like James Patterson. But with each passing year, head bent over the page refining my own craft, my criticism grew less. Today, I admire him for the way he connects to his audience. I don’t write like him at all, but I respect what he does.

    They say writing a novel is like rowing a bathtub across the Atlantic. It’s extremely difficult but the rewards of finding a cheering CULTURE of readers on the other side can be worth it. Patterson has a crowd of millions waiting him but that doesn’t make the rowing any easier. Let’s not throw rocks at the poor guy half way across the Atlantic where the sharks are numerous, the waves high, and the waters deep. Let him do what very few manage to do: Cross the Atlantic in a Bath Tub.

    Cool?

    Dive Deep.

  37. Thanks for taking the time to read the links – I think we are on agreement on several issues, but I still firmly believe that quality is based on something slightly larger than audience – I may find a “primitive” tribal dance ugly and not understand – but the people who are viewing it understand – my lack of understand does not preclude beauty existing within that culture – but my main point is this – that though mutual enjoyment and understanding between two different “perceptions” of what is good isn’t completely possible, appreciation is – there are many classic movies I don’t like – but I can appreciate their craft – just like I can appreciate the craft of the dance of the Dani – I have a hunch that the dances some audience members would choose to call “primal” and “simplistic” and “ugly” are actually a whole lot more complicated than those adjectives would give them credit for – that an entire detailed history exists behind the dance, and in this way, we see something emerge that is similar between two completely separate cultures in how we classify something as good – what we perceive as beautiful or good may come out differently – but how we perceive something as good doesn’t necessarily change that vastly between cultures – for example, back to Patterson’s Maximum Ride series – a lack of effort, a clear drop in the skill of his writing, and a near complete lack of true meaning or heart to the book – true, he tries, clumsily, to insert emotion, but it doesn’t work – and that’s why I don’t think his novels are good – that “quality” is that which refuses to oversimplify life – there are places for movies that are simply fun, like Shrek and Shrek 2, but even these comedies found ways to express beauty and truth (which is what I believe part of being “good” means) in their art and comedy, and other ways still to express heartfelt societal and personal issues that exist within friends and families. My final point being – though WHAT is considered “good” varies, the means by which something is found to be considered “good” don’t necessarily always vary, and from there we can maybe garner, if we study this enough, some kind of means by which to judge what is “good literature” beyond merely audience.

  38. springolife Says:

    I find this whole discussion fascinating. BTW, I DO think that Blink is important in this issue (although the blog author was not questioning it’s ‘originality’ as such.) The reason being, after I read Blink, Next was released. I thought “Wow, that looks just like Blink.” So, off to the theater I went. And yes, it was SOOOO much like Blink that I had to wonder if the screenwriter stole the story from Dekker. My point, of course, is that if Next was THAT MUCH like Blink but perhaps not in any way stolen from Blink, then couldn’t Thr3e also be eerily like some other work of fiction? Why does one assume that because something is like something else, that it was stolen? And Brandon, you claim that you weren’t personally assaulting Dekker as a writer, but then you go on to say that he’s NOT a good writer, that he’s not inspirational or a genius (correct me if I’m wrong,) and are accusing him of THEFT. How can that not be considered assault?

    You, of course, are entitled to your own opinion, but please don’t act like you’re not insulting him (and his very large fan base,) or assaulting him, while making this claims and of course accusations.

    Obviously I am a Dekker fan. I was a Dekker fan from the first books, when he was still an unknown. While in the midst of reading the Circle Trilogy he became my favorite author. Why? Because I felt like I had suddenly been dropped into this world that was just as real as the world around me. Because there were things in the book that I had dreamed about (like the Gathering) that so resonated within me as truth in the purest sense of the word. Lastly, because he opened my eyes to a side of God and His plan for creation that, despite my years in seminary and decades in church and in depth Bible studies, never realized, well, to that extent. I experienced inspiration to the millionth degree and walked away thinking differently then I had ever before thought. I am, as hoaky as it sounds, a changed person. I grew tremendously while reading those books and look forward to Green. The subsequent Showdown and Saint and now Sinner were just fun little added tidbits, the real depth was the trilogy.

    And I do agree that ‘good’ is only defined by the audience base. I find Dickens an awful writer. I’ve read many of his works, and each were equally as painful to read. However, he was brilliant with his IDEAS for stories and for that I can deeply appreciate. Obviously many throughout the century would disagree with me, and say he WAS a great writer and wither or not you agree with ME or THEM, you can clearly see that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ”

    Sarah
    springolife@originunknown.com

  39. Thanks, Sarah, for contributing to this discussion – first and foremost, I will say that disagreement only proves that people disagree about what is good, it does not preclude the possibility of there being some kind of universal standard – nowadays, if Dickens published a novel, it would be considered terrible, but Dicken’s didn’t write it, today, did he? – which is why texts and films must also be taken contextually within the time and area they were published – you don’t see critics criticizing Casablanca for being in black and white when it could have been in color – of course not, critics have an understanding of context, too, and how different restraints and rules must be placed on different films and texts in different times and places – but this doesn’t preclude there still being some kind of universal. If it does, I’d be interested to hear how.

    As for the accusation of theft, my original post merely stated my ideas on the subject and requested that Dekker fans step forward to defend – and they have, and I appreciated it, apologized for any hurt feelings I may have caused and said that I wasn’t trying to accuse him (which, it’s true, I wasn’t, but I never once thought that so many people would step up to defend him or that someone who says he’s him would step up to defend him – and I think many of us with blogs ranging in smaller readership may post stuff about writers we don’t like or films or anything like that, so I don’t think it should be taken too seriously) and moved on, so I don’t see your point. Besides, it’s the internet, I can post whatever I want on my blog, and though I shouldn’t have jumped to such hasty conclusions I did find that I wasn’t the only one who thought that Thr3e an “The Three” were closely related .

    And before we all move on with the discussion, though I do think it’s possible for something to be “bad” – aka poorly written with bad character development, cliched line after cliched line, and so on, doesn’t mean that I think something is completely meaningless – the Twilight series is poorly written, for example, but for the millions of readers who enjoy it, it does mean something – I still don’t understand why either Ted or Sarah seem to think that enjoying something and finding something of “good” quality have to be the same thing – because throughout my 22 year life, I have encountered dozens upon dozens of examples of literature or films that I hate, but which I must notice the quality and craftsmanship within. I can know something is of good quality but still not enjoy it. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a critic either – I’ve only been a critic about three years – but I’ve experienced the love/hate/understanding thing when I’ve been much younger and in a much different mindset.

  40. James Beack Says:

    So I have read the ENTIRE set of comments and I must say it was great to be the bystander in such an interesting debate! Personally I think that it is one nobody will ever win because the english language is so deep and complicated! And if TED DEKKER is reading this…..TED, this is JAMES BEACK, you are IMPOSSIBLE to get a hold of. I actually wrote you a personal email a long time ago and I got a response from your secretary….that made me sad. I understand that you are a busy man, but I was hoping to still communicate to my old fellow indonesian missionary kid! My email addy is hoju_21@hotmail.com if you can ever find time to write me! God bless!

  41. I agree with you James – in a debate like this, no one can win because the english language is so complicated, but it’s precisely because it’s so complex and deep that we’re able to have this debate in the first place – and despite my disagreements with Ted and a couple other posters, it’s been an enlightening and challenging discussion, exactly the kind of discussion that I hope this blog can bring in general. Thanks to everybody for the comments – feel free to keep commenting, though, because there are still depths of this discussion yet to be reached for anyone who wants to.

  42. springolife Says:

    Brandon, thanks for the reply. 🙂 And yes, of course you can say as you like in your blog. I actually had a pastor email my husband and say “Have you read what your wife wrote in her blog?” He was pretty miffed and I thought “Who are you to say what I can write in my blog?” LOL

    We left the church that very week.

  43. springolife Says:

    BTW, my blog is http://springolife.trostfamily.org/ I don’t have a whole lot on there, but if you look you can see it can be controversial. 🙂

  44. Hey Brandon-

    I know how you can find out if “Ted Dekker” is really Ted Dekker. I know some things about his life that no one who is just a fan of his writing knows…like, for example, the name of three boys from Greece he went to boarding school with, and what those boys are doing now. Ted is so absorbed in his writing, there is practically no way he is spending time bating it back and forth in your blog.

  45. Yeah, didn’t think it was him either, Wemedge. Thanks for backing me up, though. 🙂

  46. Ted Dekker Says:

    Hey Wemedge. Three boys from Greece? You mean the Macris boys, Johnathan, Neil and Harris? Last I heard Harris was in the states finishing up his medical residency. He studied in Italy, I think, but lost all his credits.

    Yes, it really is me. I don’t ever do this kind of back and forth on blogs. Ever. But I find this whole issue of what makes quality fiction writing fascinating and hard to resist, particularly on a blog that so brutally trashes my children. My artistic expression in the form of novels, that is 🙂

    All is good. Brandon has done well. Now we can all get back to writing.

  47. Cool, Ted. Glad to meetcha

  48. Ok, just a couple more thoughts before I leave this interesting discussion. Th3re’s no doubt that Ted has something- otherwise he wouldn’t have his many thousands of fans. This, I think, is true of all popular novelists, no matter what our opinion of their prose is. Otherwise they wouldn’t sell, right? Right.

    I remember someone who hated John Grisham’s prose saying how she started one of his books and then threw the thing across the room in frustration because it was, in her view, poorly executed. I happen to really like Grisham’s prose. The guy can tell a story, and tell it well, period.

    I happen to be someone who would take a Dekker novel and throw it across the room- wait a minute, I think I’ve done that. Part of that is frustration…I see the strong storytelling gifts squandered in rushed, unpolished prose. If his books are his children, he should treat his children better. Children need nurturing. I want to see Ted get himself up to the next level- to unite his storytelling talents with good prose. When a writer of popular fiction does that, it’s magic.

    Look at Andrew Klavan’s True Crime, for example. The way Klavan gets into the head of a man condemned to die at midnight for a murder he didn’t commit, while a journalist races against that (literal) deadline finding the true guilty party, is something I’ll always remember.

    You can do this, Theo. Don’t worry about the big royalty checks. You have plenty of money. Concentrate on timeless writing. Slow down. Rewriting’s a pain in the butt, but it’s what seperates the greats from the run of the mill. We want to win our culture for Christ (see Klavan’s arguments for this on his website). You’ve placed yourself in a good position to do this.

    Here’s hoping you’ll at least think about this seriously. If you write a book as well as Klavan or Grisham, I’ll be the first in line to buy it. Or maybe the second. Depends on how early I can get myself up in the morning. God bless.

  49. Ted Dekker Says:

    Gday, Wemedge, or whoever you really are 🙂

    I’m not sure you read this thread closely. The whole point is, what YOU consider polished prose is likely JUNK to many others. Where as MANY would consider my prose, POLISHED. If you don’t get that… well. I’m not sure what to say, except to encourage you to reread my earlier posts.

    Over 10 million people have read my books now, and most of those see the world of writing differently than those who see my stories as unpolished. Doesn’t make them right or wrong. Just the way it is.

    Funny thing… When I was younger I used to write the kind of stuff readers like you would probably gobble up. Full of beautiful prose and clever language that any English teacher would applaud. Some call it over-writing, common among young writers who are fresh out of college and appreciated by readers who consider themselves appreciative of finer writing. It totally gets in the way of story telling for most, but it’s fine for literary types.

    This has nothing to do with re-writing or editing or taking your time or polishing. It’s simply style and language usage. In my world, the words and sentences should be INVISIBLE to the reader, allowing them to access the story directly. Immersive writing, we call it. Anything, including a clever word, that takes a reader out of the story to grapple with that word, defeats my purpose.

    I admit, this kind of writing can drive literary elitists nuts, because they read story differently than the common reader. But it’s actually very difficult to do well and takes a great deal of careful crafting. A sacrifice I’m willing to make for the sake of my audience. I would much rather ‘squander’ my storytelling on a few like yourself, than on my own audience. Make sense?

    These days I craft each paragraph with much more purpose and care than I ever did before. I write and rewrite and rewrite and did I mention rewriting? But the end product is what me and my peeps consider stellar, not readers like you, clearly. I have slowed way down in the last three years, not in stories per year, but in how much I write in any given time. I just spend more time writing than I used to. It’s an obsession with me.

    Another funny thing, I have now worked with 3 different New York powerhouse editors, all who are well recognized as at the top of their field. This is in addition to my primary editor who’s been with me over the last 10 novels. They have each been completely surprised by the high level of execution on the rough drafts of each novel they have worked on. But then they are fully vetted in the craft of connecting with a popular audience and none of them has much interest in writers who don’t know how to connect.

    If that makes no sense at all, it may in time. At any rate, I say all of this only because you seem to know something about me, but little about my writing. So… now you know more 🙂

    And BTW, what on earth do royalty checks have to do with writing? Anyone who has written more than a couple novels knows that no amount of money motivates writers like myself. These are, as you say, children, and you don’t make them or sell them for money. I labor over each until it’s mine. Perfect in its own right.

    Now you know even more about me 🙂

    God Bless. Dive Deep.

  50. Ted Dekker Says:

    One more thing, Wemedge…

    Sorry to say, marketing has little to do with a writer’s initial success. My first few books were just thrown out there like every other writer and left to sink or swim on their own. I sat on the sideline and watched with some trepidation.

    Fortunately my books slowly climbed onto bestsellers lists after readers started talking. In a nutshell, each story stands on its own and readers are the final judge. I am completely at their mercy. Either they love it and talk or they don’t.

    Like music and other art, novels have a life far beyond the artist. Their value is judged by society at large.

    Now you know way too much about me 🙂

  51. Mr. Dekker, or whoever you may be, you don’t seem to understand what Wemedge and I are saying either. Disagreement about a subject does not imply that there is no right or wrong answer. Two people can disagree as much as they want about what two plus two is, that doesn’t change the answer from being four. Plus, there are ways to tell if writing is “polished” or “unpolished” – for example, simple thing like grammar errors or plotholes or mistakes in describing a scene or having a character who does things that don’t make sense – for example, having a character get shot in the arm, then having him stand up in the same exact scene with his arm perfectly fine and no transition and no explanation for how his arm is okay, and no explanation later in the book or movie either. I’m not saying your writing is like this, I don’t know enough about your writing to know, but I am saying that just by looking at it this way we can see there’s polished and unpolished – if a person who knows nothing about any of this, and reads a book with a dozen plotholes, and poor grammar throughout, does that change the book? Don’t be ridiculous! It changes the experience of the book. And the two must be separated. Whenever I end up getting a wider audience of readers, I don’t expect to be held to any different standards than I’m holding actors, directors, and writers to as a critic now.

    And please, let’s stop talking like being published makes all the difference with the kind of writing you do – because I know someone personally who has written three published books and he still believes there is “good” and “bad” writing. And I think it’s a little condescending of you to say, “elitists” too, as if there’s something too high and mighty about being careful about what you read and write.

    Let ME explain to YOU what critics do. First of all, go back and read Roger Ebert’s blog, because from the way you’re talking to me and the way you’re talking about critics, it doesn’t seem you have, because my point is this – I believe that we should be wise about our decisions and choices, and as a critic, I write about movies and books in hopes that I can help to make other people wise about those choices too. If we all went to see “Zombie Strippers” and “Nights in Rodanthe,” it would be time poorly spent than if we had gone to see “Wall-E” and “No Country for Old Men.” Why? Simply because the second displays a better level of craftsmanship, and that’s what good writing is about – craftsmanship – so kudos to you for putting so much time in your books. But as a writer, you also know this – your work is never done. I know other published writers who just look back at previous work and say, “Man, I wish I’d done this instead.” You’re continually improving yourself as a writer, and if it’s “all good,” then there’s no point in getting any better because, you know, the latest pornographic movie is just as quality as your novel, according to your standards. Do you see what I’m saying? Being a critic is not about squashing everybody’s fun or being some kind of “elitist” – it’s saying, “hey, there’s a lot of garbage in this world. There’s also some pretty dang fun stuff. Want some help to sort through it?” There’s no universal right or wrong answer – it depends on the person, which is why I try to write for the audience and not some ridiculous elitist critic standard that a lot of high and mighty critics do seem to ahve. But there are signposts and guides to point us on our way – I personally think it’s naive to say that everything’s good – and don’t come right back and say, “Oh, see, YOU say that but THEY say that -see, it’s all different!” because we’ve been over that before.

    There are different kinds of writing – words that flourish and words that hide themselves – but one of the greatest writers of all time, Ray Bradbury, has flourishing language that millions of readers AND critics loved. Sometimes, though, the language is so plain that it becomes boring – in the case of books like “Eragon” and “Twilight” this is the case – I may find them boring, yes, and a teenage girl may want to die for them, but the book remains. The books themselves never change, just the people who read them – the writing remains plain. The best books have words that seamlessly combine the language with the story, where the language is beautiful but doesn’t detract from the story. Good books are also timeless – ones that last throughout the years or ones that are just as good when you read them as an adult as when you were a kid. Even children’s picture books have this power.

    Novels, music, and art, do have a life far beyond the artist. Duh. Neither me nor Wemedge were ever arguing otherwise. What we were saying was that society at large doesn’t necessarily judge their value – I guess Beverly Hills Chihuahua is one of the best movies of all time, then, huh? Besides, if society at large judged their value, where would my writing be that I’ve never shown to anyone?

  52. Ted Dekker Says:

    All I’m saying is that to millions of people, Twilight is not only brilliant, but beautiful. I haven’t read it yet so I can’t tell you what I think, either way, it would only be my opinion and I doubt my opinion is any more valid that yours.

    You’re right, you have the right to disagree. That doesn’t mean you’re right in the eyes of delighted Twilight readers, or for that matter, in the eyes of those in generations to come.

    That’s simply the way language and story work.

    Some editors may feel compelled to put verbs into every sentence. That is, after all, proper grammatical treatment, and many years ago all of society would scoff at sentences without verbs. Yet today nearly all fiction writers use sentences without verbs by routine.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and beholders change from neighborhood to neighborhood, generation to generation. Evidently the beauty of what I’m saying isn’t being beheld on this thread. Doesn’t make what I’m saying right or wrong.

    That’s all.

    God bless, all. It’s been interesting.

    Ted

  53. Ted Dekker Says:

    Hey Wemedge. It would be cool to touch base with you since you seem to know the Macris family, which I adore. Johnathan is my long lost brother 🙂

    Send an email to my administrator at teddekker.com and I’ll ping you back.

    Cheers.

    Ted

  54. Actually, verbs and nouns are what’s considered “good” writing nowadays. Believe me. I’ve read literary journals and the like.

    For the last time, I DON’T CARE IF I’M WRONG IN THEIR EYES. I TOLD you, it’s not about the perception that people have. According to you, then Hitler killing people is perfectly okay, because he thought he was doing good. If you say no, then you’re willing to take your thoughts to conclusion, and your argument falls apart.

  55. Ted Dekker Says:

    Art is amoral. Paint isn’t good or evil, like people (Hitler). It’s red or blue or yellow, not good or evil.

    The message that you paint with those colors can moral or immoral, but not the paint itself. Comparing bad writing mechanics to Hitler is like comparing stones to the man who stones a prostitute.

    No one here is discussing the morality of good or bad writing. By definition the amoral nature of words reduces the quality of them to perception. Trust me, Brandon, this is basic linguistics.

    But don’t take my word for it… take this to your philosophy professor and let him or her explain it to you in better terms. I’m clearly not connecting with you. Let him read my posts and give his thoughts.

    Lock and load. All the world is a canvas–paint with care!

  56. Ted Dekker Says:

    BTW, Brandon, do you mind if I take elements of this discussion with you and use them in a non-fiction book I am writing for publication? It’s about misconceptions between cultures regarding values. The book examines American’s views of the Middle East. Called Tea With Hezbollah.

    I won’t if you object, but this discussion highlights some very fundamental challenges that different people have on seemingly simple issues. Use of language in this case. I thought it might make a good object lesson.

    Let me know…

  57. Ooooookay. You keep on repeating yourself and talking like you’re all high and mighty, when I’ve said repeatedly: I KNOW PEOPLE WHO ARE MORE EXPERIENCED THAN YOU, BETTER AT WRITING THAN YOU, OLDER THAN YOU, AND MUCH MORE WISER THAN YOU, and they STILL agree with me. AND THEY HAVE PUBLISHED WORKS. So please STOP condescending to me, it’s really getting old. Just because you’re published, you say, “oh, when you get published, you’ll see!”, because it’s not true. You don’t know everything there is to know, and I believe your’e wrong about art being completely subjective. Disagree with me all you want, but I believe you’re wrong. And disagreement NEVER IMPLIES THAT THERE ISN’T, IN FACT, AN ANSWER. EVER. So please stop pretending it does.

    • You do realize that you’re both the same thing, right? Brandon, you and Wemedge don’t like his writing style. Each writing style, just like every sub-sect of art, literature, and theatre has its own conventions. The fiction that Ted writes has its own set of rules that may or may not apply to your literary rules. Just as Invisible Theatre and Musical Theatre are both theatre but have different conventions, so it is with literature.

  58. And yeah, use whatever you want. And Americans’ views of the Middle East have nothing to do with what I’m speaking about. Like I said, simply because other people don’t like their culture, and I’m okay with them, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a right and a wrong way to look at things.

  59. Ted Dekker Says:

    Brandon…

    My sincerest apologies, man. Sorry, I really have no business on threads like this. This is the problem with the blogs and email, they remove the human element from the equation.

    Seriously, I’m not trying to be high and mighty and I regret that I’ve sounded condescending to you. I doubt I know much more than you. For all I know, you’re far wiser than I. Seriously. Please don’t take offense.

    Forget everything I’ve said, it was better left unsaid in this context any way. I had no idea you were being affected this way by my words. Usually when I teach writing, the people who hear my advice just take it for what its worth and we discuss it with passion but as humans, face to face. Here, it’s gone wrong.

    I am a deeply moral being. I believe in right and wrong, even if I don’t think it has much to do with aesthetics. Again, just my opinion, but I didn’t want to leave you with the wrong opinion.

    Sorry, Dude. Really, didn’t mean to upset you.

    Take care, man. Press on, do well. Maybe we’ll run into each other some day. In the meantime, you’ve reminded me why I so rarely do this sort of thing, so… lesson well learned.

    All is good.

    Ted

  60. Sorry if I came harsh as well, this has been discussion that has been well worth my time. It’s been interesting and enlightening. Later, man.

  61. I know this discussion is probably considered old and over. I was looking for an audio book copy of ‘The Circle Trilogy’ and came across this blog today. I just wanted to say that it was a very interesting, but mainly entertaining, discussion. The transition from “Did Dekker plagiarize?” to “Proper critiquing” and somehow landing on “the battle of good and evil” is hilarious. You people are obviously passionate about what you do which is great!

    One thought…. You may both be right and you may both be wrong, but no one should ever forget that you don’t need some one else to agree with you for you to be right.

    P.S.

    All forms of art are subjective. Any form of art that is not appealing to any audience (other than the creator) can not be considered to be a good work. The one thing that will always remain constant is that (for earthly things) the masses will be the judge for anything to be considered a success. The larger the mass the better. Not liking this concept has no bearing on it’s accuracy!

    Just my opinion……..

  62. Well, yeah, the masses define success. But how would you define success? Money? Critical acclaim? Agreement? Happiness? Pleasing your audience?

    • Nate Acreman Says:

      This debate has been very interesting to say the least. I would say, from watching many of Ted Dekker’s interviews, that it sounds a lot like him. That is neither here nor there, that isn’t an answer to your question.

      How do you define success? Well lets go first with the dictionary answer:

      suc·cess (sk-ss)
      n.
      1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted: attributed their success in business to hard work.
      2.
      a. The gaining of fame or prosperity: an artist spoiled by success.
      b. The extent of such gain.
      3. One that is successful: The plan was a success.
      4. Obsolete A result or an outcome.
      *www.thefreedictionary.com

      For most of us the definition of success would be taken from the first definition. Obtaining success is based on reaching your goals. Authors probably view their first success as their first published work. Then from there the bench mark for success keeps moving up. As personal goals tend to change so that we are always reaching for something.

      Now other things that stick out in this thread is determining whether someone is talented or not, determining what is art, and defining who determines the genuine worth of a product. All paraphrased of course.

      I don’t know you, and I will not assume anything about you. But let’s say that you have a kid, and your kid draws their very first picture. It’s nothing much to the average eye, just some stick figures, with a few triangles to represent a dress for mom. To me, being it’s not my kid, it’s just a photo that some kid drew, to you it’s something worthy of being thrown onto the almighty shrine we all grew up with called the door of the refrigerator. What determined the worth of that picture? Is it in fact art? I would say that it is, because that picture drawn by a young kid represents something very dear in your heart. Art, in any true sense, is something that draws emotion and feeling from the intended audience using words or descriptive symbolism. With your kids, you’d be that intended audience.

      I like hard rock bands, and am not a huge fan of rap. Does that make one less artful than the other? No because it appeals to the general audience. You said earlier that there is a general standard accepted universally as to what is good and what is bad. This isn’t true though, because not all of us have it in us to judge based on any universal standard. To our loved ones we can do no wrong, to our enemies we could do no good. In the end however, how we feel about something, is all subject to opinion. Words like good and bad are opinion, and for opinion there are no universally accepted criteria, because all people have differences in opinion, as we can view from this very thread.

      My self, like you Brandon, and Ted Dekker, have been around the world. However my experiences in travel has been with the military. Might that change my views a little on how I accept the cultural variety of art, based on my mission and purpose being in that country?

      We aren’t dealing in concrete values, like the stability of a house. These things can be measured, and the answer doesn’t have to be put into terms of good or bad, though we could certainly use those terms, we could also use terms more definitive and can stand the test of logic and science, to describe the state of the house.

      So what determines whether or not an author has skill as a writer? First we can look at the audience, were there any number of people pleased with the work? How was it received in general? Then we can look at the success, was the author’s goal met in what he intended to come of the story, and how it was received and understood? We could also use return value, was the effort put into the book equivalent, greater than, or less than the reception of the book? In other words was it worth while.

      Of course these things all define whether or not the author has any skill, but I guess the greatest statement to their skill would be seen right here in this thread. Which goes right back to what Ted was saying, and what I also said in this, how did the audience receive the story? After all, who do you write for? When you understand who you write for, then you’ll also know who it is you are intending to please.

      (I apologize for how long this response has been, and hope that none of it was offensive. Sorry for the lateness as well.)

      • I’m not sure a discussion of the definition of success is relevant here – by my opinion, if something is “good” it doesn’t need to be successful, and if something is “bad” it very well could be successful. Sometimes the two intersect; sometimes they don’t.

        I would say that the kid’s picture is not, in fact, art, or at least, not “good” art. Now, does this mean I don’t love the photo? Of course not – because I love the kid, I love the picture, but I love the picture BECAUSE IT’S MY KID. Do you see what I’m trying to say? Do you see how narrow the audience for this piece of “art” is? Pretty much the only reason I love the “art” is because I love the “artist.” Take away your personal connection to the artist, and you take away the goodness of the art. And because such a personal connection is there, it’s unsatisfactory in trying to come up with a larger definition of art. It’s incredibly personal, and for its purposes, yes, it does succeed, and because it makes you happy it does have some worth. But let’s stop and think – because having good “art” and having worth are not the same things – to use an example; I believe that the Twilight series is a poorly written one, but that doesn’t mean I’m saying it doesn’t have any worth. Obviously it’s deeply affected many people around the world, so it would be foolish of me to argue otherwise. But there are things about it that are poorly written, for lots of reasons.

        “Art, in any true sense, is something that draws emotion and feeling from the intended audience using words or descriptive feeling.” And here is where we would disagree, because I believe art is much more than just something that draws emotion and feeling. If you look up at my conversation between dizzyjam and MissGirl, you’ll notice how we looked at different approaches to movie – the kind that merely look at it as a vehicle to cause an emotional response, and the kind who look at it as an expression of the artist’s craftsmanship. And what did we notice? That the people who merely looked at it as an emotional response were missing out on a larger picture. Reducing art to merely an emotional response is an insult to the hundreds and thousands of man hours that go into making a movie or writing a book. What about craftsmanship? I’m curious as to why this doesn’t enter into your definition of art as well.

        “I like hard rock bands, and am not a huge fan of rap. Does that make one less artful than the other? No because it appeals to the general audience.”
        We’ve been over this. Different genres and styles do not exclude the possibility of art. I can’t stand Jane Austen and yet I recognize the great literary qualities within her work. I don’t like hard rock and yet I recognize the artfulness involved in many a hard rock song. So, just for the record, I would like to state once more that QUALITY AND ENJOYMENT ARE NOT THE SAME THING. Also, there is something very artful about both kinds of genres, but that doesn’t mean that every song within those genres is artful.

        “You said earlier that there is a general standard accepted universally as to what is good and what is bad.” When did I say this?

        “To our loved ones we can do no wrong.”
        Really? Let’s take the example of the kid you used earlier. If you want this kid to grow up to be a decent human being, are you going to let them do whatever they want because “they can do no wrong?” No. And do you discipline them because you don’t love them? No. Quite the opposite. If you didn’t discipline them it would be questionable how much you loved them. Likewise, if you have a friend who is smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, can they “do no wrong?” Wouldn’t you maybe be worried about their health? What if they were just a huge jackass to everyone they met except you? Would they do no wrong? All this to illustrate that our loved books, just like our loved ones, can and do go wrong sometimes. If we love something, we want what’s best for it. Contrary to popular opinion, love is not blind. Love accepts the person (or object) for what it is, but it does not just mean “anything goes.” If I dated a person who accepted everything about me, even the bad parts, and never once helped me grow, well, how much would she really love me? I want to grow in this life, and I want someone who can help me grow, not just tell me that I can “do no wrong.” As for the part about enemies, well, it may be partially true, but both of these oversimplify the situation. The fact is that if someone loves you, you CAN do wrong, and if someone is your enemy, it IS possible for you to do right in their eyes.

        “In the end however, how we feel about something, is all subject to opinion. Words like good and bad are opinion, and for opinion there are no universally accepted criteria, because all people have differences in opinion, as we can view from this very thread. “
        Hm, interesting. How does the presence of disagreement automatically imply no answer is possible? You are making a leap of logic here that does not follow.

        “So what determines whether or not an author has skill as a writer?” In your response to this question you mainly just wrote about audience, yet I would put much more in there. Here are the four main definitions I would offer up in terms of what makes art “good.” Effort, talent, audience, longevity. Effort, because it matters how hard the artist tries; talent, because some can write really well and some people can’t write really well and it shows in the art produced; audience – because yes, the audience does matter, but it’s not the only thing that matters, and I don’t see why it should be; and finally, longevity, how long the work lasts. I’m curious to hear what you think of these. For now, let’s say that in order for something to qualify as art it must possess three of these four qualities. The baby’s work would have effort, but not talent (although some babies and toddlers DO have talent). It wouldn’t have longevity, either. (In terms of lasting beyond the baby’s life, like Da Vinci’s work outlasted him as a person). It would have audience, but the only audience who could consider the picture good would be those who had a connection to the artist himself, leaving the audience impossibly narrow.

        “I guess the greatest statement to their skill would be seen right here in this thread.”
        How is this the greatest statement?

        My main problem with people’s definition of art is that it doesn’t leave any room for “bad” art. It’s as if we’re afraid of stepping on anybody’s toes in calling something bad, so we just don’t bother, and accept everything. But as an artist, myself, let me tell you there is such a thing as bad art – I’ve produced it, and lots of it. I started writing when I was 11 years old. Looking back on the work I’ve done over the course of the past twelve years, some of it’s terribly written, in many ways, but it did bring me to where I am today. You might say then it was good art, because it spoke to me. I’d merely say that it was worthwhile; a stepping stone, because, for many reasons which I won’t elaborate on here, the books I write now are better.

        Something about the idea of writing to please the audience is troubling to me, because though you should have an audience in mind, trying to please them can lead to artistic compromise. Certain movies come out all the time tailor-made to fit audiences, and they’re horrible, and the masses gobble it up, not realizing that the men behind the movie don’t give a shit about artistic values like integrity and honor – they just want your ten bucks. And people pay it.

        I’m wondering if you’ve read the whole thread. If not, please do, and we can continue our discussion at the bottom.

  63. this is the first time ever that i have written into a blog but i have read through the debate and couldnt help but write in. i just want to say. i agree with ted. its all in the audiance. art is all about the audiance. if people like it its art. wether it is liked because it is enjoyable or because of the quality. the main point is that it is found great in the eyes of the people. i am currently in high school (about to graduat) and my opinion might not be considerd among college graduates and published others thank you for your time and ted if you are still reading thrugh this i love your work. i want to be a movie producer after colledge and your cricle trilogy has inspired me to make movies that are both enjoyable to the masses and spirtually meaningful thanks

  64. Brandon….

    I believe that you are, like myself, analytically minded. This makes measuring success very difficult. Everyone has their own requirements for achievement. Whether they be monetary, public acceptance of, emotional outcome, achievement in regards to potential, and on and on and on. The original question was whether it was good. Can something be good and not be a success? Depending on what the creator was after, absolutely! If the creator was after completing a form of art that would be loved by an audience, and it is not, then it is a failure but not necessarily bad. In this case the masses have decided the level of success, but not quality.

    As far as success….
    I tend to choose the route of potential. If something in particular meets or exceeds its perceived potential, then in my mind it is successful.

    As far as good or bad……..
    To each their own. We will all decide whether or not we think something is good or bad. We agree, we don’t agree… I don’t agree with putting exact measures on art to make this decision. People may not be able to tell you exactly why something is good or bad, they just feel it. Art plays on emotion, and some emotions can’t be put into words.

    I guess in short, I am not sure “quality” has a place in any form of art. You either like it or you don’t. Which normally means you either understand it or you don’t. Since art has always been a form of entertainment, you are better off to judge it on its success. Which means if it sells to, or reaches most of the people in its market, than it has to at least be considered for the label of success.

  65. Beverly Hills Chihuahua was a huge success with its target market – yet somehow I would be hesitant to place it next to the Dark Knight, a film that had huge success with its target market as well.

    You say, “Art plays on emotion, and some emotions can’t be put into words.” To an extent, this is true, art does play on emotion, but I believe that there’s something to be said for thinking through the emotions we feel during a movie rather than experiencing them passively – if you were talking to two people about, say, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and one of them loved it, and said, “Yeah, it made me laugh a lot and I just really liked it. It was an awesome movie.” and the next person hated it and said, “Wow, what a terrible movie. The dialog was hackneyed and cliched, the animation on the chihuahua’s mouths was all right, it had its moments, but on the whole I found it to be a lazy effort to capitalize on dog-obsessed kid culture.” Which one sounds like he’s thought through the movie more?

    Aside from all this, saying “quality” has no place in any form of art is speaking a little too soon – because when you say something like that, you immediately raze to the ground every single piece of art’s quality, and you claim everything is equal. Not to mention that it’s also ignorant of the detailed processes that go into movies and other works of art – sometimes, an actor will do a movie solely to get a paycheck; sometimes, a director will make liberal changes to something that script writer penned down, and sometimes special effects are poorly used or overdone, and all of these and more can be seen in the movie we see before us. People who pick apart and analyze how all these interacting parts work together aren’t claiming art is an exact measure – but to claim quality can’t even enter into art’s definition is a little ignorant, I think. You’re gonna tell me one of Shakespeare’s sonnets is no better written, no deeper meaning, no less shallow, than the Twilight series? Sadly, much of Twilight’s screaming pre-teen fanbase is claiming that the series is great literature, and yes, I will say that I believe they’re wrong. I can’ tell you exactly what I think art is, but I can tell you that just because there’s disagreement on quality doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. Disagreement has never implied, nor will it ever imply, that there is not an actual answer out there that is right, thus rendering all the other answers wrong.

    I know it’s un-PC to use the “w” word here, but so what? If you truly believe that there’s no quality to be found in art, that it’s all based on people’s perceptions, then what’s even thew point of trying? Next week Bratz: the Movie could overthrow your precarious pedestal of success, if that’s all art is based on. And besides, what about themes like right, wrong, love, hate, prejudice, conformity, and so on? What about hypocrisy? Movies can exemplify all of these and more, and we’re just supposed to ignore all of them because it’s all the same?

    And by the way, art has not always been a form of entertainment. It can be used as such, but, believe it or not, many directors and writers write because they actually want something to be good, and not just something to please an audience.

    This was a little convoluted, but oh well.

  66. Umm, I just got back from a retreat with Carl Medearis. He’s co-authored that book, Tea with Hezbollah, that Ted mentioned. It doesn’t come out for 8 more months and there’s nothing online about it from the publisher or anyone else. The guy claiming to be Ted Dekker on here is almost certainly the real Ted Dekker. I just thought that might help.

  67. Elizabeth Says:

    I think this is an intriguging argument–it sounds like something that would be in one of Ted’s books. I am an aspiring writer myself, and Ted, if you still look at this blog, you are my inspiration and my hero. I have to say that when I first saw someone writing as Ted Dekker, I was dubious. But once I started reading his arguments I realized that I was almost 99.9% positive that he really is Ted. I’d recognize his writing style anywhere. And as I previously stated, the responses sound like something that would be in one of his books. And I absolutely, irrevocably, without question, want to make this point clear: Ted Dekker is NOT a plagarist! His work is undoubtedly the most original I’ve ever read.

    Ted, if it is you and if you are still keeping tabs on this, I am a huge fan and your books have touched me and I want to thank you for that. I would love to talk with you someday, to hear the inspiration behind your incredible books. I just wanted to let you know that you’ve touched my life and with your books like Obsessed and Blessed Child, you have truly opened my eyes even further to the love of God.

  68. Bret McCormick Says:

    Just to qualify … I’m a professional journalist who has started three novels and only wishes he were as good of a writer as the people he reads.

    I’ve found this discussion absolutely fascinating, and am glad I found it when Googling Ted at 5:30 in the morning. I can say, Brandon, having read every one of Ted’s books and interviews, as well as watched personal interviews, I can confirm you are talking with the real Ted Dekker. Ted has a very unique writing style, and it’s come across in this conversation. Fascinating.

    Where I think the two of you differ fundamentally is that you, Brandon, seem to believe that your OPINION should count more than anyone else’s. Yes, I’ve been a critic at times, of many different things, although not in a professional setting. Heck, I’ve even criticized some of Ted’s writing (although he’s my favorite author) when comparing them to one another. For example, I much prefer Blink and Three, some of his earlier works, to his more fantasy fiction, although I still find enjoyment in those.

    Ted believes that people like me — one of his many loyal readers who recentlly devoured Kiss, his latest novel with Erin Healy, and anxiously await Boneman’s Daughters in April and Green in September and anything else that Ted has already written or will write in the near future — ultimately judge whether or not his writing is good. He’s not writing for the critics. He’s writing for the masses, for his fans, for the people who enjoy fast-paced, adrenaline-racing story-telling like he does.

    Now does this mean that Ted is a lazy writer, as you have insinuated, or that he doesn’t strive to get better, as you again insinuated? No, it doesn’t. Ted has admitted to being a perfectionist, of poring over his novels again and again trying to make them perfect. It just means, quite frankly, that he’s not writing for critics. Your opinion isn’t any more important than mine, for instance.

    That’s the one thing that continually struck me as I was reading the comments to this blog, Brandon. At 22, or maybe 23 years old now, you seem to have a very high opinion of yourself and believe that your opinion matters much more than the millions of people who love Ted Dekker’s writing. Art is subjective. I’ve never been into so-called great literature. Most of it bores me. But I love Ted Dekker and James Patterson. Now in your opinion, that may mean I know nothing about good literature. In actuality, it just means we have different tastes and opinions. And, according to book sales, there are plenty of people who tend to side with me on this one.

    Again, this was a fascinating discussion and I’m glad that I caught it. I think we are all entitled to our opinion. You’re welcome to share your opinion, too, Brandon. We all have that right. Just please don’t think that yours is any more important than anyone else’s.

  69. Thanks for your comments, Bret, but I think you may have misunderstood/misrepresented what I was arguing. You did get one thing right: Yes, I am arguing my opinion, but that’s really not what’s the issue here. The fact is, you are arguing for the correctness of your opinion – that art is completely subjective, while I am arguing that it is not.

    According to book sales, yes, plenty of people would side with you on that, but if you want to play the numbers game, let’s to this way, shall we? Porn. More than 50% of the internet is used for porn. We use Blu-Ray because porn chose blu-ray. Porn sells so much money. And yet, many would argue it is exploitative, harmful, and misogynistic. This only proves that when discussing something’s “quality” – more has to be taken into account than simply the enjoyment of the viewer/reader. There are dozens of things you can analyze aboutg a fim’s release, for example – such as the casting process, how many people they tapped to play the role before the guy who was actually cast, which can tell you something about the director’s priorities, which in turn can lead you to noticing something in the performance that bespeaks something that occurred on set. Directors and actors have famously disagreed on set, sometimes killing the entire movie, sometimes revamping the whole thing, sometimes making it exponentially a different kind of movie. So, at this point, you would probably agree with me that there’s more to a movie (and, possible, to a book) than simply the viewer/reader.

    Aside from all this, as a writer, I see the tools of the trade, the tricks that go into the writing. It’s damn hard work, as I’m sure a journalist/future novelist like yourself knows. Right from the very beginning of this discussion I said as a disclaimer that I have only read a book and a half of Ted’s. And that full book he co-authored with Frank Peretti, one of my favorite writers. And, if you’ll look in the comments, I already apologized for making it seem like I was trying to bash on Ted’s writing style, and admitted that I would need to read more of his writing before I could say anything. Besides, if the enjoyment of your readers is what drives you, then what happens when readers are disappointed? Does their opinion then become null and void and the next reader who does enjoy the book replaces that feeling of disappointment? If you’re going to claim that art only has meaning in its audience, you have to answer the question of what happens to the so-called “quality” of that art when a beloved writer pens an unquestionably terribly written novel, disappointing millions. I’d be very very interested to hear your take on this.

  70. Oh, and as a side note – Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the beloved Twilight series, split readers down the middle – there were those adoring fans, of course, but then there were those who hated it. So what do you say to them? “Sorry to disappoint you guys, but your feelings don’t matter! The book is good no matter what you say or do!!”

    This also goes straight against the way you would treat something you love. You have a favorite writer. For example, Ted Dekker. You read all his novels faithfully, you love all of them, you care for each of them because you have unique experiences with all of them, and that’s beautiful. However, if at one point, heaven forbid, Ted Dekker got lazy, and basically just rewrote an old short story he penned in high school so he could make money (and by the way, money is a very real world problem – actors, authors, directors, a whole bunch of people will do a project if it makes them money, regardless of whether or not they care about the movie), would you then love and care for that book just like the authors? Chances are, if you truly loved Dekker, you couldn’t believe what he had given you. You have higher standards for the people you love. Think of a loved one. If they, all of a sudden, started punching people in the face for no reason, would you try to stop them and find help for them or just smile and say, “I still love you, despite your silly punches!” Well, sure, you still love them, but you know this is unacceptable behavior. You want the best for them, and this is not the best. Same with a writer. Or a favorite director. Or a favorite TV series. For example, I absolutely love the TV show Heroes. It’s been one of my all time favorites since season one. However, lately, I have found disappointment with it – is it because I don’t love it? No!!! It’s precisely because I do care for it so much, I want to see it flower and bloom into the beautiful mosaic of heroes and heroines like in the old days. People like you misunderstand us critics, they think we’re just around to kill everyone’s fun and point out the flaws so that you can have as little enjoyment out of a movie as possible.

    Well, hate to break it to you, but critics become critics because they love books so much, or because they love movies so much, or because they love food so much. Critics see the inner-working beauties of a novel, or a movie, and like to analyze it and pick it apart and find out what makes it tick, and through analysis, make it better. Just like a clockmaker fixing a broken clock or something. We critics love seeing good movies, and when see a bad movie (unless it’s exceptionally bad), we don’t feel good, we feel kind of sad, especially if it was from a director we liked.

    People can have different tastes and opinions, and I never said I was free from those. But you know what, since being a critic, I’ve found I’ve garnered a wider appreciation for a whole slew of movies that I never would have dreamed of watching back when I was a passive viewer. What the critic wants to do is invite the viewer to open their eyes wider and notice more, see more deeply into the work, and garner a greater appreciation or it. It’s honestly annoying when people like you talk down to us by saying things like, “I don’t read so-called great literature,” as if you’re implying that we can’t enjoy a good old fashioned thrill ride like James Patterson or Ted Dekker. For the record, I’ve read Patterson’s Maximum Ride series, and though they’re flawed, I own the first two and think they’re pretty cool. Wanted was one of my favorite movies of last year. Seriously, try beating me on having seen things that aren’t “so-called great.” Oh, did I mention I just got done watching Zombie Strippers?

  71. Adian Steiner Says:

    Something in me pales at the thought of resurrecting a thread so long asleep, but as some have remarked, I was searching for Ted Dekker on the internet and stumbled across this blog. And I can’t leave well enough alone.

    I am a Ted Dekker fan. I am currently buying every book of his I can get my hands on and usually read each in a day or so. My favorite would have to be Saint, many would disagree, but the story touched personal chords for me. And therein lies part of my point. I read Dekker novels because they connect with me. As a Christian, I find the storytelling woven around timeless truths to be irresistible. I also listen to mainly Christian music for the same reason; I am drawn to the lyrics, to the truths represented. But would I venture to say that most of what I listen to is art? No, in fact most of what I listen to is typical contemporary rock and roll. It is what sells on the market. I have watched as one of my favorite bands has abandoned what I thought was their style for the current trend. And it pains me.

    Ted, you are absolutely right when you say that you are ever striving for perfection in your children. I see it with each progressive novel. But, Brandon, you might not see it as such. I have not seen Ted exploring into realms of prose unventured in previous novels. I have not seen a literary awakening as he finally understood how to write a novel that will stand the test of time. I HAVE seen a storyteller who has recognized the storytelling that his audience loves, and who strove to tell a story that said audience will love better. And so, Ted has improved his craft.

    Ted’s goal, if I may be so brash Ted, is to weave a story of Truth that will resonate. A story, that for his audience, glorifies the source of that Truth and brings the reader to a deeper understanding of that Truth. And so, for the set goal, he has succeeded. In his eyes it matters not if the story finds a new way to pair verbs and nouns.

    But my friend the critic, you have far different aims. You long to discover and preserve that which is unique and beautiful because of its contribution to an ever expanding library of greatness that dares each generation to offer its best. You strive to point out that which has never been done before and has been done well. You find clique and plagiarism to be among the greatest ills one can knowingly persist in. And you long that others would see the staleness of the food that much of the masses consume. Forgive me Brandon, I did not state this earlier, I am generalizing about critics and mean no specific disregard towards your person.

    And so the great debate. The ivory tower strives to maintain its structure of Mozart and Shakspeare and Monet. And the masses adore the Entertainment. And I say, let them!

    The masses, who eat at the table of Twilight, are there for entertainment and entertainment’s sake alone. If they are entertained, they will support it. If not, it will fail. And many care not a rat’s about the critics. Critics will cry from the rooftops, and few will listen. But those few appreciate the work of the critic. And so it has been for ages.

    Art, if it is truly art, will survive, despite what the masses think of it. For in time its contribution to the field will be realized and preserved.

    And now we come to the crux of the matter: I believe that Ted sees art as a product of a culture. Something that changes from culture to culture, through the course of time and the rise and fall of empires. Brandon, I believe you see art as something irrespective of culture. Something timeless that will ever be recognized for its unique beauty among all mankind.

    I look forward to reading Tea with Hezbollah. I keep getting bothered by a small idea. Can a culture be so vastly different from our own that even our Art would be considered hogwash to them, worthy of nothing more than kindling on a cold winter night? I admit I am not yet certain of the answer, and so I do not attempt to support what I believe to be Ted’s view, though I find myself beginning to believe it.

    But hey if I am wrong tell me so. I love a good debate. And I have always been bothered by the idea of “literature.” If I have offended or misrepresented anyone, please forgive me, and let me know so I can apologize. Sometimes ideas flow and I forget to think through them.

  72. It’s still hard for me to believe that some random post that I wrote late on a school night one night when I was probably procrastinating on homework has turned into this huge beast of a conversation. In any case, Adian, thanks for your comments.

    “Ted’s goal, if I may be so brash Ted, is to weave a story of Truth that will resonate. A story, that for his audience, glorifies the source of that Truth and brings the reader to a deeper understanding of that Truth.”

    One of the things I’ve been pinned to be arguing here is that a work has no significance outside of its meaning as a piece of art. (Not saying you pinned this on me, but others have.) I have not said this, at all. If a million people are inspired to live better lives because of Ted’s books, well, that does lend them some credence as art, too, because I believe that art, when properly used, affects people deeply, even if it doesn’t affect everyone deeply. Because Ted strives to do this with each subsequent book, I would classify him as an artist. I think you’re also over-simplifying Mr. Dekker’s writing process. E.g., “In his eyes it matters not whether the story finds a new way to pair verbs and nouns.” Though Ted’s novels may not do this specifically, you can bet Ted didn’t just one day sit down at a typewriter and pound out his first novel, with zero education on grammar, zero education on character development, and zero education on plot construction? Do you think he’s not always trying to find ways to improve the “technical” aspects of his work? If you’re a writer and you misspell a few dozen words in each book, have quotation marks out of place, and commas everywhere and for no particular reason, I don’t care if your audience loves the book, you’ve been a lazy writer.

    The kind of devotion you see Ted putting into his novels, though, is also markedly different from the work that Stephenie Meyer puts into her Twilight novels, books which practically glorify self-abuse as a way of showing someone you love them, books that present extremely one-dimensional protagonists so that the average girl reader can imprint her own personality onto Bella.

    Here’s a Salon article written by a woman, on why she believes the Twilight books are not harmless entertainment, but nigh on dangerous lies. Befrore we continue any discussion, I suggest you read it, because it touches on another point of mine: books, movies, entertainment, can have effects on people’s lives beyond merely watching them. What do you when a book or a movie starts to affect your life in negative ways? What do you do when you don’t even notice what the book or movie is doing to you, but others do? Is still just harmless fluff that you can scarf down willy nilly?

    http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/07/30/Twilight/index.html

  73. dizzyjam Says:

    Ooooookay,

    I just read all the way down to where Ted left the discussion and then skimmed through the rest just to see if anyone did what I’m about to do.

    Honestly, this was like watching a debate between a hardcore Democrat and a hardcore Republican: Both sides make excellent points that are right on target; neither side really got what the other side was saying.

    Brandon, I’m a huge Ted Dekker fan and totally understand where he is coming from. Also as I read through things I understood where you were coming from too.

    A few points I’d like to make:

    There are waaaaaaayyy too many great authors nowadays from the past century alone to totally make sure you don’t use someone else’s ideas. I didn’t hear about Philip K. Dick until Minority Report came out as a movie. I read the short story (disappointed to find out it was a short story) at the library and was disappointed with it compared to the movie. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of his stuff. I hadn’t heard of Robert Heinlein until Starship Troopers came out as a movie. I still haven’t read him even though I have books of his on my shelf.

    I read a lot of material, mainly fiction though in recent years I’ve been reading a lot on business. I really should spend more time on my entrepreneural endeavors, but I do read a lot of fiction. Yet most of my books on the shelf are unread. Why? I keep buying more books in a year than I read through in a year. It’s a fact.

    There is a saying, and it’s true, “So many books, so little time”.

    So what if Ted wrote Blink and it was like Philip K. Dick’s “The Golden Man”? Maybe with all the reading Ted does he just never read that one before Blink was published to realize how similar they were? And didn’t a previous poster on here that listed that title even say the written story was a bit different than the movie version, Next? Kinda’ like my experience with Minority Report.

    You mentioned the Lord of the Rings books and what if someone had written it without showing it to anyone and got it published? Something tells me that wouldn’t happen. Somewhere along the way someone would see it and question the author on what they were doing. Then that author would be shown the Lord of the Rings. Oh, wait a darn minute, I forgot. Dragonlance novels do this all the time. So does Robert Jordan and many others. There are quite a lot of quest/trek series out there set in fantasy land, so I guess this actually does happen. And they get by with it too. Imagine that.

    Look, I’m really not here to make fun or do anything like that. Like Ted mentioned earlier, text on screen isn’t the same as being in person. So please don’t get offended by what I’m saying.

    Let me ask you:

    Since having your debate with Ted, have you given his work a try again? Did you go back and try to read Black again? Or one of his other novels? Or are you just content to sit back and make criticisms without knowing the material?

    Here’s a list of his novels in the order I’d recommend reading them if you were to read all of them to see his progression as an author:

    Heaven’s Wager
    When Heaven Weeps
    Thunder of Heaven
    The Martyr’s Song
    Blessed Child
    A Man Called Blessed
    Blink (now called Blink of an Eye and expanded)
    Thr3e
    Obsessed
    Black
    Red
    White
    Showdown
    Saint
    Sinner
    Chosen
    Infidel
    Renegade
    Chaos
    Lunatic
    Elyon
    Green (forthcoming)
    Skin
    Adam
    Kiss

    Start with that first one (Heaven’s Wager) and just read. You may not read everything in that list, but seriously, how can you make a critique of someone you haven’t even read? And how can you make comments on the growth of an author without seeing how he’s grown as an author?

    You may notice I didn’t mention House. I saw that you’ve already read that and left it out. I would have put it after Green though if I had to put it somewhere.

    Once you’ve read a few of his novels in the order I’ve mentioned – even if you aren’t able to get through the entire list right away or later after a few just choose not to – then come back and say what you think. I’d recommend getting at least through to Thr3e, but really, you haven’t read Ted until you read the Circle Trilogy of Black, Red, and White. But don’t jump to that because then you won’t see the progression. Of course his writing really starts changing after that. And watch out for the green eyes.

    Okay, I hope you have a great day.

    Be encouraged,

    dizzyjam

  74. Thanks for your comments, DizzyJam, and thank you for acknowledging some of the ponts other have failed to

    I do agree with you that I need to go back and read more Ted Dekker. My initial post was a little premature – but I’ve said several times since the original post, in the comments, that I was sorry for offending Ted Dekker fans and that I don’t know enough about his writing to comment on it. I know many many Dekker fans who swear by him, people whose opinions I respect because I know they approach books/movies/art in a similar way.

    One final comment – I’m not sure what your purpose was in pointing out that someone would stop another Lord of the Rings along the way/Dragonlance already doing it. Dragonlance already doing it also kind of proves my point – that you can write an entire rip-off series and still make money and still have a wide audience – and that wide audience still enjoying it despite it not being “good.” or it being a “rip-off.”

  75. dizzyjam Says:

    My comment about Dragonlance (and Robert Jordan, who I love) was more to show that people can be inspired by one author and write a similar story from that inspiration yet have their own audience and be successful in their own right. Some may consider Dragonlance a rip-off, yet others that play Dungeons and Dragons swear by the novels. Not all that play the game read the novels and vice versa, and some only read certain authors in the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms series. R.A. Salvatore has a continuing series of books in Forgotten Realms about one Drizzt Do’Urden (hope I spelled that correctly) and a person I used to know had all the hardbacks of that series, but didn’t read Dragonlance while playing the game Dragonlance was based on. These stories have taken on a life of their own. Even if the initial Dragonlance trilogy had a whole bunch of nods to Tolkein, the rest of the books that came out just took the initial concept and went from there.

    Same with Robert Jordan, a lot have praised him for expanding on the world that Tolkein created while Jordan really created his own world that was just similar to Tolkein.

    Stephen King, who I see in earlier posts on here you have acknowledged as a great author, took his inspiration for the Dark Tower series from both the Lord of the Rings novels and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Add all the H.P. Lovecraft he had read as well and you got the Dark Tower series (which is my absolute favorite, BTW). Did he plagiarize? No, he took inspiration from the stories he loved and created his own. Someone can come along later if they want to and say “Oh, he copied this because of that right there I see”. So what? He acknowledges it, plus he’s not the first or the last author that has done so. What would be a big deal to me is if someone took the names of the characters from LOTR and put them in a similar story with similar attributes and the story wasn’t a parody of some kind. That would bother me greatly.

    Isn’t there an old saying that goes, “Imitation is the highest compliment” or something like that. Well if so many people are imitating LOTR, then LOTR must be good enough to imitate.

    And if by some chance Ted Dekker got his inspiration from that old Philip K. Dick story for Blink, so what? Perhaps he thought it good enough to draw inspiration from.

    Oh, and if I could help clarify something. Here’s my take on what Ted was saying about the AUDIENCE of a writer:

    Let’s say you like Tom Clancy (you may hate Tom Clancy, but please go with this as an example). Well I like Tom Clancy too. And so does this other guy over here. You see him with the short light brown hair and Benjamin Franklin glasses on. For Tom, we are his AUDIENCE. Maybe you like him for all his technical descriptions of various military equipment and such, that other person might like his story telling, I happen to primarily enjoy the Jack Ryan and Mr. Clark characters and for each of us all the other stuff is secondary. Now, even though we are all fans of Tom’s work, we like different things about what he writes. He’s complex enough to reach enough various people that enough has read him to make him a bestseller.

    Now, let’s say you’re so into technical descriptions that you keep manuals about submarines and warships at home that you just love to read over and over. Maybe even some other fiction authors that concentrate so much on the technical that they miss the characters and the story, yet you love them. For me, I might try one or two on your recommendation since we both like Tom Clancy, but I’ll quickly realize it’s over my head. Yet, YOU are these OTHER authors AUDIENCE. They may write technical things even better than Tom Clancy does, but because Tom can reach so many more people than they can he is the one who winds up being the bestseller. If you are only going for one aspect of the writing process, then no Tom Clancy would measure up to your standard because of these other guys you read that describe things in more detail than he does (that’d be a whole heck of a lot of detail too), yet he has his AUDIENCE and his AUDIENCE thinks his books are great, and because of what was established at the beginning here, YOU are a PART of HIS AUDIENCE. And the AUDIENCE decides what is good even if there are things about it you personally would change or add to.

    This doesn’t mean the greater the AUDIENCE, the better the author. Rather, if a great AUDIENCE appears the author must have been good enough to attract such an AUDIENCE. Then it’s up to the AUDIENCE to decide if it’s good or not. Some of the AUDIENCE will go away. The ones that stay are the author’s AUDIENCE. These are the ones that buy everything by the author as they are able to.

    Now I like Ted Dekker. You’ve read the co-written book he did with Frank Peretti and 30 pages of Black. Maybe for you that’s enough to decide. I’d say otherwise having read more. Maybe you will decide eventually that you like certain of his books, but not others. That’s fair. He does write different styles and you might like one over the other. You may eventually decide you like none of his books.

    That doesn’t change the “fact” that we both like Tom Clancy. We would just not both be the AUDIENCE for Ted’s work. That doesn’t make Tom a better writer than Ted. They just both reach a different AUDIENCE. Just like Billy Graham reaches one AUDIENCE and Stephen King reaches another AUDIENCE. I’m a part of all four AUDIENCES myself (Tom, Ted, Billy, and Stephen). Yet I’ve had problems wanting to read other Micheal Crichton books even though I’ve read and enjoyed some of them. I’m just not his AUDIENCE. I like him as an author well enough to have read five of his books, and I have over six books by him I still haven’t read yet, but I haven’t touched him in years and don’t think I will anytime soon. That doesn’t make him a worse author than anyone else I like to read, I’m just not his AUDIENCE.

    This is my take on what Ted was saying. I do not presume to speak for Ted, but I hope that what I said agrees with him.

    Does that help make it a little more clear, Brandon?

    Be encouraged,

    dizzyjam

  76. Adian Steiner Says:

    I’ll be brief, I feel like I said too much last time and didn’t say enough of it well. Brandon, I agree wholeheartedly that there are works of literature, music, painting, and all other art forms that taken into oneself without care will damage, maybe even destroy that person. I have once put down a book because it’s message became so insidious that I felt I could stomach it no longer without being infected. And for the critics who are willing to go through fire that they may warn others I salute them.

    I never meant to imply that you didn’t think Ted was an artist, rather that people approach writing with different goals in mind. Some may seek to write in a way that challenges the writing community, others, to keep their readers salivating for the next novel. Both can be worthy endeavors. I just find the whole debate between the two amusing and sad sometimes. It seems too easy to get caught up in the debate and miss what everyone is really trying to say. I too am guilty.

    And lazy writing is plain bad craftsmanship. One thing I learned in school, if nothing else, if you are going to take time to do something, take time to do it well.

    And for my two cents, give Dekker another try, Personally, I found Showdown, hailed by many, to be one of his poorer works. I read it years ago and wasn’t inspired to read anything else by Dekker, even forgot I had read it. A friend introduced me to the Circle trilogy, a series that struck a chord with me. Going back to Showdown recently I came across a vivid scene that reminded me I had read it before and though I still didn’t find it great I could at least appreciate it among the broader scope of Dekker’s works.

    You may never pick up a Dekker book, and that’s okay, we have our tastes but I find it amusing how he pops up in random places across the Net.

    Grace,
    Adian Steiner

  77. Thank you for your comments. My only comment on them is this: while some may seek to write in a way that challenges the writing community and others that make readers salivate, the best combine both of these and are often found to be the most enduring.

  78. WOW.

    Just wanna say this whole debate is intriguing & purely genuine.

    Also, a question for Brandon, you seem well-educated when it comes to reading, can you suggest a few good books for me to read (your favorite Horror, Action/Adventure, Suspense, Drama, Angst, Mystery, Romance, Humor?) . People tell me I read alot, but after spending 45 min. reading this blog I actually realize how narrow my scope of book reading really is.

    And lastly I know that wasn’t Dekker but whoever it was was really good at debating, you dont give yourself enough credit by stealing Dekker’s name like that, you should use your own name.

    Keep it real,

    TIM

  79. Dizzyjam – to your argument about audience, I point this out – what you are talking about all involves taste, across an audience, but I believe good can be seen across every single different genre and author you mentioned in your post. I have always said enjoying something is not tantamount to saying, “This is a good movie.” I can find something utterly boring and yet still recognize good qualities within that movie. For example – you are correct, I don’t enjoy Tom Clancy. I’ve picked up maybe two of his books in my lifetime and finished neither. They don’t capture my attention. But I fully understand why they capture people’s attention, and I recognize the good writing skills he employs and how he is a good writer, even if I can’t enjoy him.

    And I don’t necessarily think Tom is a better writer than Ted. I have, obviously, not read enough of either to judge. But, for, example, I would say JK Rowling is superior in writing teen fiction to Stephenie Meyer, for very specific reasons which I won’t go into here, but which have little do to audience, and more to do with good writing. I will readily acknowledge the quality of something (for example, I’ve read maybe two page of Pride and Prejudice, and ten or fifteen others of Jane Austen, and choked down every single one of them; couldn’t stand them, but I’m not going to stand up and claim Austen is talentless or a bad author – they’re two entirely separate things.) The audience doesn’t decide what’s good. The author writes it, sometimes to the best of his ability, sometimes not, and the audience receives it, sales go up and down, but a lot of the times you have to look closely at the sales, see the way they movie, or book, is marketed, who it’s marketed to, where it’s marketed, and all of that feeds into realizing that sales and audience demographics are way too unpredictable to base any kind of “goodness” of an author on. I mean, sure you have climates where in an author can “generally” be seen in a good light or “generally” be seen in a bad one, but more often than not it’s a discredit to the authors themselves, oversimplifying all the work they put into a book to its audience. I’m not sure if this is exactly what you’re arguing, so forgive me if I’m saying so, but I’m just trying to cover all the bases.

    Tim –
    Horror – I’m not a huge horror reader, haven’t really given myself time to dive into the genre, but I have read a good one – Relic, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Look it up.
    Action/Adventure: – If you read Dekker and like him, early Peretti is very good, lately he’s not been on his game as much, but if you just read from when he first started writing it’s amazing. Dan Brown is entertaining, but very fluffy.
    Humor – Dave Barry, a columnist. He has a bunch of books, and he’s a crack-up.
    Suspense: Chuck Palahniuk isn’t exactly suspense, but he’s an odd writer. He’s pretty unique, and pretty graphic sometimes, but always kind of fascinating.
    Sci-fi: Ray Bradbury. Read as much Ray Bradbury as you can.

  80. dizzyjam Says:

    Just to comment on one of the points you brought up, and that’s the marketing versus sales. I’m well aware that there are differences in marketing strategies and target audiences even if I don’t know what was used for each and every book out there. For example, there’s a great new publisher in the field now called Marcher Lord Press which I happen to just love. They published their first three books at the beginning of October and the recent three just became available on the first of this month of April. Every six months there will be new books available. You can check it out at the following website: http://www.marcherlordpress.com They have a very specific target audience (readers of fine Christian speculative fiction) and if they make sales in a few hundred they would consider it a bestseller. And the authors they’ve gotten so far is pretty darn good in my opinion. I’ve enjoyed the writing I’ve read. Yet, how many other people are going to take the time to search out and order these print on demand books? It depends on what the person is looking for. These probably won’t do the million copies of other more famous authors, but the readers – the AUDIENCE – decides if they are good or not. You can be excellent at using the English language and have the best characters possible, but if you can’t tell the story, then you just aren’t good. And the reader decides that. And you’re right, sometimes it is a matter of taste, but that taste is what determines what you’ll read and what you won’t, what you like and what you dislike. You may not be with everyone else that likes Tom Clancy, as you verified, but he’s still a great writer. He’s still written excellent fiction, and many people like him. That was determined by his AUDIENCE. If his AUDIENCE had read his books and he was a poor writer, he wouldn’t have sold the copies he has sold, and his AUDIENCE would be very few if any. No, high numbers doesn’t prove the writer’s strength in the language department, and neither does low numbers prove a weakness, but what it does show is first the marketing, and then the giftedness of storytelling. And I believe it was storytelling that Ted was talking about earlier. I can’t speak for him and I may be wrong, but that’s what I think.

    Oh, and for Tim and anyone else that wants to doubt if that was Dekker or not, I can say that I’ve been on his site and someone was asking about this very thread and whether or not it was him, and it was confirmed that it was him. Zoe who posted earlier is one of the moderators of the site and I recognized her on here instantly. So may all doubts be swept away – Ted WAS here.

    Be encouraged,

    dizzyjam

  81. “You can be excellent at using the English language and have the best characters possible, but if you can’t tell the story, then you just aren’t good.”

    If you’re excellent at using the English language in prose form, you ARE telling a good story. Why does there have to be a difference between the two?

    And I don’t understand your point about sales. I know sales don’t make a book good; that’s been my whole point. The only sense in which you’re using the word “Audience” is in the sense that people who read the book. Well, in that sense, yes, the audience does judge a book’s worth, but you fail to understand that your example does not prove that audience defines a book’s worth. Audiences put labels on books and movies and stuff, but that’s just a label, not the actual object.

    You seem to, time and again, continually ignore the points I’m trying to make, so let me ask one point blank. You keep on writing that the audience decide what’s good, but you never back it up! All that you are tagling about is the general “reaction” to a book, when I’ve said very specifically: emotional reactions and thought out critiques of things are extremely different. An emotoinal reaciton is

    “Wow, this is a good book! It really pulled me in, kept me in suspense, and I didn’t see the ending come at all!”

    When you look at this, you see it’s all about what the reader is experiencing. Now, imagine someone who says,

    “Wow, this is a good book! The fast, horrifying opening really pulled me in with the lyrical beauty of the words juxtaposed with the terror of the subject matter. The suspense was masterfully crafted – revealing only specific clues along the way, always keeping the killer out of sight or in shadow, and finally knocking us across the heads with that sledgehammer ending that answered every single question in the movie and brought it to an entirely different level of understanding!”

    Though you see they both express the same thing about the movie, who has thought through their experience more? The second one, obviously, and in the second’s description, what do you notice? Details. The analysis looks at the movie and why it works, how it works, what makes it work, and how to make it better. There’s no point in pretending that it’s all about the audience, because it isn’t. To look at all the depth layered into the craft, how can you ignore it and say it’s all about the audience, that the audience is who defines quality? And before you say it, YES, an audience member did say the second comment, but their comment was full of meaning and explanations related directly to the book itself, irrefutable things like the juxtaposition of lyrical words with horrendous terror, keeping the killer in or out of shadow. Within these analysis of movies there can be disagreement, and that’s beautiful part. If it were one, huge, perfectly clean code for conduct on exactly how to produce good literature and exactly how to produce good movies, then there woudln’t be any fun in talking about it would there? I’m not pretending like I have the be all and end all answer to what’s good and not good. I’m just saying that I hate it when people reduce a movie’s or a book’s artistry to something as simple and vulgar and fickle as its audience, an audience who will just as soon swallow up somebody’s cheaply produced piece of trash as your lovingly crafted masterwork. Books, movies, photographs, paintings – encased within them is meaning laced into their very fabric, and in a lot of cases, hope from the author that he has done his best to produce something good.

    This is why I can never put too much stock in a book or film’s audience.

  82. Wemedge Says:

    Hey Brandon-

    I checked out of this thread back in Oct. of ’08 because I felt like I had pretty much contributed my 2 cents. Just for the hay of it I got back on and boy was I surprised to find you guys still batting it back and forth.

    Here’s the deal, Brandon. Dekker has a young, fanatic base. Most of his readers are young ‘uns who haven’t done a whole heck of reading and therefore lack what one might term ‘literary discernment.’ To your credit, you’re not one of those people. This makes you an exceptionally intelligent young fellow who will one day go far in life. It might take a decade or two, but I bet we’ll all be buying YOUR books some day, and maybe even wondering if you’re a plagarist- ha-ha, just kidding.

    Dekker’s fanatic fans have invested themselves emotionally in their fave writer. That’s why they overreact when someone like you or me question TD’s creative credentials. This is not just my take. It’s also the take of a friend of mine, a published writer (NYT bestseller, no less) who feels exactly the same way about Dekker’s fan base. So don’t take it personally, bro. Trust me, you’re way ahead of these other guys.

    As an example of emotional overreaction to any criticism of Mr. D, have a gandar at the excerpt below from titletrack.com. Back in Nov. Titletrack alerted readers of Dekker’s forthcoming title Boneman’s Daughters. The first comment you see was mine. But look at the reaction to my comment:

    Anonymous (that’s me, Brandon) said…

    Great! Another creepy serial killer novel from Ted. Gimme a break.
    November 13, 2008 3:12 PM

    Now for the reaction to that opinion:

    Anonymous said…
    The person above is a moron. I’m excited!
    November 14, 2008 8:22 PM

    jrohrer said…
    The first person is a moronic human being who has no taste. I’m really excited!!!!!!
    January 14, 2009 10:03 AM

    Anonymous said…
    the first person has no taste…if you like ted dekker…you’ll be excited about all of his books!
    February 3, 2009 10:19 AM
    human being said…

    get a life Anonymous
    March 1, 2009 5:06 PM

    So- from 5 Dekker fanatics you have them calling me a moron twice, and being accused of having no taste twice, and being accused of not having a life.

    Now I ask you, Brandon, do those comments that show insight and intelligence, or are they, rather, an emotional overreaction to a negative comment about their favorite author?

    This is what an emotionally immature person does. He reacts personally if something he holds near and dear is criticised. Trust me, I don’t mind being called a moron—I do open air evangelism in a foreign country and I’ve been beaten, spent a night in a Turkish jail, and been called much worse than “moron.”

    Dekker’s books ARE creepy. What the heck is a committed Christian doing writing about serial killers doing their thing in graphic detail anyway? I ask ya, is that the way to glorify God? Oh, I know, there’s lots of creepy stuff in the OT, too, but nothing like the detailed gore TD writes about.

    Look, the bottom line is, it’s none of my business. Ted Dekker, you, I, and all his fans will someday answer to the One who spoke from the burning bush.

    I just want to encourage you, Brandon, for having more on the ball than these other guys. I understand them, too- I was once immature and over-emotional myself.

    Oh- the final entry on that titletrack blog:

    Anonymous said…

    Despite the use of religious ideas, this novel has little meaning, and is a quick read that is easily forgotten. It fills a niche in the book market, because the bestseller lists and primetime TV shows demonstrate that people love stories of psychotic killers filled with murder, mayhem and vague allusions to something deep. This is charmless trash fiction that sells.

    I rest my case—

    Wemedge

  83. dizzyjam Says:

    I’ll respond to both Brandon and Wemedge:

    Brandon said, “If you’re excellent at using the English language in prose form, you ARE telling a good story. Why does there have to be a difference between the two?”

    The thing is that although you may have the English language down pat, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily telling a good story. Your story could be dry as a bone found in the desert many weeks after it was left behind by some guy who had gnawed off the last chicken leg he had. If the story is dry (unless this is done purposefully) it just isn’t a good story. And if it is done on purpose, then it will only appeal to a select audience, and again they will be the ones to determine that it is good, why it’s good, etc.

    You gave two different reactions to a good book. Quite frankly the first one was just fine. A reaction to a book only needs to be detailed if you’re in the business of doing it, otherwise the person hearing you usually doesn’t care. From what I can tell, you ARE in this business, so of course you are looking at this through a different pair of lenses. For most of us, if I asked a friend about a book they were reading and they started going into that much detail of your second example without me asking for more than what you said in your first example, I’ll probably not be asking their opinion anymore. It’s what’s known as TMI or Too Much Info.

    “Hi, whatcha’ readin’?”

    “Oh, hi. I’m reading this book by this guy named Brandon.”

    “Is it any good?”

    “Yeah, it really pulled me in and I can’t wait to find out what happens because the suspense is really building.”

    “Oh, okay. I’ll let you get back to it. Let me know if it ends good.”

    “Will do.”

    See how that works? He didn’t have to go into the “juxtaposition” and how well it’s “crafted” to let me know that it’s worth me probably at least starting the book. Later he could say, “It ended great and wrapped up nicely, you should read it” and I probably would pick it up and put it on my “to read” shelf.

    Whether the response is emotional or well thought out, the end result is the same. Either you like the book or you don’t. Plain and simple. You don’t have to be a critic that uses plenty of expository to figure out whether you like it or not. If you like it, you’re part of the audience that probably will be there for the next one, if not you probably won’t be. It’s as simple as that.

    Now if you’re writing a review, the second one is definitely more detailed, but the wording makes you, well, when I go without shaving for a week, I look like a bum even though I’m not one – shaving is a choice and so are the words we use, and the words you use makes you sound (please, no offense intended here) snobbish. That doesn’t mean you are one, just how it makes you sound. The common person doesn’t use a word like juxtaposition even when they know the meaning of the word (which I would suspect a lot of people don’t – putting things together side by side or together for comparison and contrast). When you use words like that, if you’re trying to get a positive response back you’ll lose a lot of people who might otherwise finish your review and go out and get the book. When I read the second response and hit that word it jarred me out of reading your review for a second there. I knew what you were saying so I kept reading, but most people won’t know and you have to consider that. You can write a great piece of writing, but if no one reads it because it’s full of grammar no one uses, then really who cares? I know you do because you wrote it, but who did you write it for? Who you wrote it for is your audience, whoever they may be. And if you write things that are only understandable by those with English skills to rival Buckley, then great! write away and I hope it sells well to them and they enjoy it. The thing is, that’s your audience and that’s who’s going to like your books. They might describe your books in greater detail than I would to my friends, but that’s okay because we all are different. You got a website with your books listed? I’d love to check out what you got so far. Who knows? I might be in your audience.

    Now to segue over to Wemedge’s comments as I wrap up what I’m saying to Brandon:

    Brandon, Wemedge said:

    “Dekker has a young, fanatic base. Most of his readers are young ‘uns who haven’t done a whole heck of reading and therefore lack what one might term ‘literary discernment.’”

    and

    “Dekker’s fanatic fans have invested themselves emotionally in their fave writer.”

    I’ll just have to comment here on these. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. If you consider 33 still young, then yes, I suppose I’m a “young” one in his base of fans. I don’t know if I would use the full use of what fan is short for though in describing me concerning Ted Dekker. I’m not fanatic about him. And I have read plenty of other works of literature to know a good story from a bad one. I’ve read Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Johnathan Swift, John Steinbeck, and many more. To say that I, as a fan of Ted Dekker’s, “haven’t done a whole heck of reading and therefore lack what one might term ‘literary discernment.’” is just making a statement in ignorance. And besides I think what you meant to say Wemedge was “a whole heck of a lot of reading”, correct? I could be mistaken there, you may have fully intended it the way you typed it.

    And I haven’t invested myself all that emotionally in Dekker’s work. Sure, I like his storytelling ability and I like how he writes things, and I go on his website to post comments and such, but I’m not so emotionally attached that I can’t live without his writing. Shoot, I did just that for a few years and now am catching up on some of what I missed. He’s not my favorite writer, but for those in the Christian fiction arena, he’s my current favorite. A person that may soon take his place in that though is a guy named Eric Wilson. I really like his stuff. You can check out what he’s doing on http://www.wilsonwriter.com and http://www.jerusalemsundead.com No, my favorite writer has been for some time now Stephen King, and I don’t see any takers for that spot anytime soon. And with Stephen, I’m also not so emotionally involved that I can’t live without reading him. I go for months sometimes without reading him and then go on a binge of a book or two I haven’t read yet.

    I only entered the conversation here because, if you look back up at my original post, I saw two sides of an argument that were of equal value and can complement each other quite well, but just like politics was butting heads rather than shaking hands with each other. I was hoping I could help bring this together some on here, and for one of your posts Brandon it sort of looked like I did, but now you’ve slid back to the side that is heavily critical of people that make it look easy (whether it’s Ted or whoever). As I’ve said before, I can’t speak for Ted, but I can speak for myself, and if I had been speaking to him I would have taken the other side of the argument than what I did take.

    Wemedge, it’s really too bad some people are immature enough to write such comments and I personally don’t know who did so, but I doubt Ted would have liked someone saying that to you. I would wonder though as to what I had said on here for you to warrant the comment, “I just want to encourage you, Brandon, for having more on the ball than these other guys. I understand them, too- I was once immature and over-emotional myself.” In what way have I shown immaturity? In what way have I shown myself over-emotional? Was it when I capitalized the word audience? You may notice I didn’t do it that way this time in this post. I wasn’t doing the Internet equivalent of yelling, I was just trying to bring emphasis to the word since I couldn’t put it in bold or italic print. So how was I “over-emotional”? Or were you commenting on some other people on here?

    I’m glad to read about your evangelism and what you’ve had to go through for the cause of Christ. I wish you well in the future on that regards. May the Lord cover you and keep you as you continue to be used by him. And I can’t comment for Ted as to why his books are so creepy, but I will say that sometimes in order to reach someone trapped in darkness you have to be willing to enter the darkness in order to take their hand so that you can lead them to the marvelous light. That description may or may not work for you, but tell me, would the people you’ve lead to Christ in the foreign field ever have made it into the kingdom if you were too afraid to get your shoes a little muddy? You do what God has called you to, Let Ted do what God has called him to, if you don’t like his books, don’t read them. If you feel concerned about it, pray for him. But let God be God and as you say, we’ll all have to face him some day each of us by ourselves.

    I’ll keep my eye on this forum, but unless something really new comes along on here, I’m probably not going to post again. If I did, I think we would just be going in circles.

  84. Dizzyjam, you said, “Either you like the book or you don’t. Plain and simple.”

    Fact is, it’s not that plain and simple. You can feel different about a movie mere hours after watching it, you can feel different about a movie the second and third times you see it. You walk out of a movie because you hate it so much, you may miss the last twenty minutes that, according to critics, practically saved the movie. Most people don’t dislike a movie without a reason. You don’t like my snobbish analsyis, fine, let’s simplify it to, for lack of a better word, layman’s terms.

    Person A disliked so-and-so movie because of all the plot holes. Person A watched so-and-so movie again and found that he only thought there were plotholes because he hadn’t noticed how well the story was constructed, as there are in fact either none or far fewer than he thought. Say this makes Person A like the movie. But let’s *then* say Person A never saw that movie after the first time, because he hated it so much, because he thought that once he saw a movie, he liked it or he didn’t, that was it, plain and simple, no need for further thought involved. With this example, doesn’t it seem like Person A was wrong about the movie the first time through? With these kinds of variables and the way people’s tastes change and morph and all the subtle details that can be woven in and around the fabric of a movie and those watching it, how can you claim that it’s just “you like it or you don’t. pure and simple”?

    Your points about my use of the English language are well taken, but once again, you’re not getting MY point. There are some books that I will never, ever read. THAT DOESN’T MEAN I’M SAYING THEY’RE TERRIBLE. In fact, I know there are millions of books I will never read in my lifetime, or even consider picking up, BUT……they could be good, great, or literary masterpieces. My not reading something or disliking it, in my mind, does not qualify it as bad. What I’m saying is that I believe there are certain things within books and movies that can be analyzed to discover whether or not they’re good. Another example – I LOVED Zombie Strippers, and I think I already mentioned that. But Zombie Strippers isn’t a good movie – it’s God-awfu,l because of many different reasons that I won’t go into herel. So if I told you that I liked Zombie Strippers and you automatically assumed that I called it a “good movie,” well, I’d be kind of offended that you twisted my words. See the difference between the two? Why do people like you have to mash together the idea of a “good movie” and the idea of a movie that you liked? Why can’t they be two separate things, coming together sometimes when you see a movie that you really really liked AND was a good one?

    Same with books that I have read and disliked. In YOUR examples, you always say that you either like x or you dont’ like x….but what about not liking x and still admitting that it’s well crafted and a good movie/book? I JUST talked about this, with Jane Austen, an author whom I respect and admire but whose prose can never draw me in. Clearly, it’s not either you “like x or don’t like x.”

    “heavily critical of people that make it look easy”
    Explain this, I’m not sure what you mean. I don’t recall ever being critical of people that make it look easy.

    And here, read this. I’m not commenting back until you respond to all the specific points made in this article. It’s about Twilight, and the influences the books exert over teenage girls and moms. It makes a point I’m trying to make – that claiming audience response is all there is to a book is over-simplfying.
    http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/07/30/Twilight/index.html

    And one last thing – I don’t write books for my audience. Right now, I don’t HAVE an audience, except my close friends, and I don’t really write with them in mind. I write books that are good to the best of my ability, that I can be proud of. For my online writing, I write articles, not that are going to pander to audience’s tastes, but articles that I fully believe in and can commit myself to making them the best they can be. I open myself to criticism, and when someone criticizes my work, do I blame the critic and say, “oh, it’s just that you didn’t like it” or do I go back to the work and see if he’s made a valid point, because I want my work in the future to be even better than what I write today? Correct, I check my writing. True, this person makes up my audience, but just because I believe the audience can have valuable input doesn’t mean I believe they form the definition of what is good in a book or movie.

  85. dizzyjam Says:

    You want to say I’ve twisted your words, yet you have twisted mine. It is for this reason alone that I am responding to your post.

    First, just because someone has the free will to change HOW they feel about something (for whatever reason) doesn’t change the fact that they DO feel about something. Again, plain and simple, either you like something or you don’t. The reasons behind it, or any changes back and forth of it, are irrelevant to that simple fact.

    Second, I’ve never disagreed that something can be liked by someone and yet not be good. That wasn’t my point in the discussion. I like Big Macs at McDonald’s but are they good for me nutritionally? No. The same goes for reading. Christians and Church folk have been making this point for a long time just to keep people out of the movie theater and away from books that might “sway” someone away from the faith. And look at what a great success that has been. 😉

    I’ll look at the article and comment on it later if I feel I need to. I have already exited this conversation once last night, and I was just checking this morning to see if you commented as quickly as you have in the past. The content of your comments was what got me to comment again.

    And as for your personal writing, I’m glad you write primarily for yourself. If the writer doesn’t like his or her own work, then others probably won’t either. If you ever do get a book published, be sure to post it on here.

  86. dizzyjam Says:

    I read the article. It was interesting and explained some things I had been wondering about concerning the series. Not sure what you want me to comment on though. Care to elaborate?

  87. The reasons behind you liking or disliking something are not irrelevant, if we’re discussing whether or not a book or movie is “good” because it’s a good book or movie, or if it’s “good” because that’s what the audience says. Because, as my example shows, you can dislike a movie for the wrong reasons – and therefore the fault lies with you, not the movie. I bet you that hundreds of people have watched The Godfather and wondered what all the hype was about; to them, it was not a good movie. But they are wrong, because they missed all of what did make it a good movie. If I say to this person, “Man, you’re wrong. Godfather is a great movie.” and they say back, “Nah, man it sucked. It was so slow and boring!”, are we both right? No. Here, we have to look at what we’re each looking for from the movie. He was obviously looking for something with a little bit faster pace. Now, we can see WHY he didn’t like it. Having seen WHY, we can point to reasons within his logic that show how the Godfather is not actually a bad movie; just a product of this person’s expectations.

    Do you see what I’m trying to say here? Saying the reasons behind someone liking or disliking something aren’t important is being ignorant of all that goes into the creation of a movie. If you have several different experiences watching a movie several different times, what’s changed? Not the movie, you have! The movie is the same – it’s there, waiting for you to see it. So why should the movie suffer (or gain) from this? Why should the movie be reduced to merely your reactions? A movie is either “bad” “good.” (Forgive the over-simplifications but you get the idea.) When a person watches a movie, they call it either “bad” or “good.” You say the reasons don’t matter. If you watch Rush Hour drunk, chances are you’re going to find it a lot funnier than sober. If you watch There Will Be Blood while stoned, you might fall asleep or get bored because it’s a long, plodding movie. If you watch a depressing movie right after you just had your girlfriend break up with you, got into a car wreck, and were kicked out of your apartment, and you hate it, it’s not necessasrily a bad movie. You just happened to have a sucky day. The movie was made months before you had this sucky day. Why bring the poor old movie into your problems? It’s just a movie, it wants to be analyzed as a movie, not as the final thing you did on that day.

    THIS is why critics see movies multiple times; because the intentions of its creator can never be expected to be fully appreciated the first time through, and we sort through our experiences, thoughts, emotions, and feelings surrounding a movie before reviewing it. In a sense, we’re trying to distill the movie, purify it, separate it from variables like whether or not you’re inebriated or whether or not you just won the lottery. (E.g. if you just won the lottery, you’re more likely to accept the implausibilies of three main characters winning the lottery consecutively in a movie, unless you’ve bought lotto tickets your whole life and never won a dime, in which case you’d be one of the first to point out the leap of logic involved in this storyline.) Most people don’t take these into consideration when calling a movie “good” or bad,” which is the point I’m arguing. Besides, if you say it’s all “just” people’s reactions, it destroys any possibility of argument or discussion of a book or movie, because the conversation can just end at, “Well, you know what, you liked the movie and I didn’t, that’s all there is to it.” And it’s a damn shame, because when you stop there, you miss all the opportunities to dig deep into a movie’s meaning and challenge your own perceptions on it. In other words, you miss the chance to think. These days most people go to the movies to turn their brains off, but unfortunately for them a lot of the movies in which their brains are turned off are created by people who want the audience to watch the movie with their brains *on.* If they audience with their brains off doesn’t get it, well, whose fault is that? If they go tell their friends they just saw a bad movie, because it wasn’t the brainless action-fest they were expecting, well, I’m sorry, but they’re wrong. It just didn’t happen to be what they were looking for. Critics like me and others do our best to not have expectations for a film before it opens, though of course we fail sometimes, because a movie should be judged for what it is, not what it is not.

    Basically, my entire point boils down into one word. “This was a bad movie.” WHY? “He’s a bad actor.” WHY? “This book is amazing.” WHY? Earlier, we talked about reactions to a book, and you mentioned how the well-thought out response would be considered snobbish by most people and thus not read. Here, what you’re talking about has nothing to do with a movie, it has to do with marketing. The point of what I wrote was to show that it gives much more evidence as to why the book was good. It doesn’t really matter if most people would consider it snobby. The point is, the second response has thought through the book more than the first one. The second response could probably tell you a lot more about the book itself than the first one could (if you asked).

    All you seem to care about is whether or not somebody likes or dislikes a book or movie. That’s not good enough. Looking at WHY we like books and movies tells us infintely more about them than simply people’s reactions, as people can be extremely obtused, biased, ignorant, etc…….and you know the funny thing about being a critic? Since I became one, I’ve found so much more appreciation for film and books. You notice more when you’re watching a movie, you take in more, you give the director or author more of a chance to wow you. It’s unfair to the director if you’re just going to walk into a movie and blame it for all sorts of problems that have everything to do with you and nothing to do with the director or the work.

    As for the Twilight link, my point in supplying it was simply to show how there’s more to deciding if a book or movie is good than simply fans’ reactions. What I wanted you to comment on was how this article ties into our overall debate. Do you think the article is helpful/irrelevant/neutral/harmful to my side of the debate? I’d consider it mostly helpful, and am wondering what you, a person who consider’s a book’s worth to be determined by each individual audience member, say to it, as clearly Twilight’s “worth” reaches far beyond the rabid teenagers and exerts a creepy, uncanny influence over its audience.

  88. Bill Ryder Says:

    Someone directed me to this thread, knowing that I am somewhat versed in Dekker’s background (I’ve also done some work with him in the recent past.) I haven’t read all the posts but what I have is both interesting and at times a bit humorous.

    First the Interesting: I find Brandon’s comments well intentioned and thought out. Obviously his philosophy isn’t seat of the pants. Well done, sir.

    I found what Ted had to say equally well intentioned and somewhat closer to my way of thinking, particularly as it relates to cultural valuation more than moral valuation. Ted’s a bird of a different feather, well schooled in philosophy and extremely well traveled. He’s passionate about contextualizing truth which explains much about the way he writes. Nothing he does is without a very specific purpose.

    Both Brandon and Ted have their points.

    As for the humor–I’m sorry but I had to laugh at some of the comments made by Wemedge, particularly since he seems to be on the same side as Ted in the fight against evil. He’s just badly misinformed about his brother in arms, which is a shame since so much of Ted is available to the public in books like Slumber of Christianity and in his many interviews and blogs.

    An associate of mine was involved in a large research project, part of which confirms what I know of Ted’s audience. This is what I can tell you without breaking propriety.

    1) It’s true, Ted has an unusual connection with highly advanced younger readers, and in fact almost 35% of his readers are under the age of 24, half of those college age and half high school.

    2) The other 65% are older than twenty-four, most being between 25 and 40.

    3) Most who have read 3 or more Dekker Books are engaged in philosophy and or theology, which makes sense — most of his books challenge religious and philosophical ideas on numerous levels. His readers defend him because they tend to be thinkers outside the norm. To even suggest they are immature is just crazy.

    4) The reason for Ted’s dark writing is made very clear in numerous blogs and extensively in The Slumber of Christianity. Agree or disagree.

    What I find so interesting is that Wemedge seems to comment liberally on all of this without referencing public resources at all, almost as if he himself has not read Slumber, or many of Ted’s books. He has a right to his opinions, as do we all, but his opinions seem to be based on assumptions or hearsay rather than personal experience.

    I personally take exception with the way Ted deals with the Catholic church in his writings. We don’t have to agree on everything. But to comment without knowing the facts or reading the material… laughable.

    I am forty-two and fairly intelligent. Much (Not all and certainly not House which I did not like) of Dekker’s writing makes my head spin and leaves me deeply challenged. Read When Heaven Weeps, Black, Red, White, Showdown and The Slumber of Christianity. These books characterize his writing and some of his philosophy.

    Then judge. Otherwise, Judge not lest you be judged, as Jesus himself said.

    (Sorry for the length of that post)

  89. MissGirl Says:

    This has been an interesting blog to read! I must say I almost stopped at several times due to the fact I was called “immature”, “uneducated”, etc. I trudged on though and I’m glad I did. I’m not really adding anything because it seems to have been beat to death.

    Bill Ryder – that was well stated. Thank you.

    Brandon – most people are not critics, nor do they care what critics think. I like Ted’s books and writing style. (It is intense and thought provoking. I have to re-read certain passages in order to fully grasp what is being said. I think that in order to fully understand his deeper meanings, one must have a relationship with Christ. The spiritual applications and double meanings are deep in there and not seen to the “common” [not the right word but the best I could do] eye.) Back to the main point – because I am a fan of Dekker, I do not care what a critic says. I will read it anyway. I’m more apt to not even read the critics comments. Uneducated? No, it just will not affect or sway my opinion in the least. Dekker’s books are not for the casual reader; especially only 30 pages of Black. I don’t think I “got into” that book until page 130 or something. It was the longest for any book I’ve read ever. But it hooked me. That was my first Dekker book and hasn’t been my last. I see both sides of the “discussion” but I think that you, Brandon, are getting too caught up in the semantics of it than the actual “meanings”. To each his own. I understand that because you wear the “critic” hat this is easy for you to do. However, understand that the vast majority are not such and do not think that way. Thanks for the insightful blog and subsequent discussion.

  90. MissGirl – this entire discussion has been about the semantics of it. It doesn’t matter, for the purposes of this discussion, if the vast majority of people don’t care what critics think or don’t devote too much thought into what they read. What we’re talking about here is what actually makes up a good or good book, and I’m saying I don’t think it’s based exclusively on audience. A movie where the crafter puts a ton of effort into the craft needs to be appreciated on the level at which it was made, and if some person who doesn’t care about craft comes along and doesn’t like it, well, that’s their fault for not appreciating the craft. The craft is still there. Example: people who have never seen South Park often criticize it for being nothing more than mindless fart jokes and swearing, but these people are usually the same ones who have never seen the show enough times to give it a chance and realize how well thought out the jabs, critiques, and slams are, and how, sometimes, quite wise South Park is. So the person who hates South Park because they think it’s mindless trash are wrong. People can still hate South Park, but accusing it of being mindless trash is just plain ignorant. My point being that I am talking about the semantics. I know most people don’t care about what critics think. But hey, this is a critic’s blog, you’re reading it, you obviously care to some extent. And critics get too much of a bad rep sometimes, anyways.

  91. Ted Dekker Says:

    This thread is still going?

    Just Curious, Brandon, now that the issue of the quality of storytelling has been discussed at length, what is your opinion of any of the following solo works of mine?

    Showdown.
    Adam.
    Red.
    BoneMan’s Daughter.
    Slumber of Christianity.
    When Heaven Weeps.

    Just want to know how these works stack up in your opinion since it was my writing that started this whole thread. I’m assuming by now you’ve read some or all of these.

  92. Hi, Ted. Good to hear from you. No, sad to say, I have not read any of those. I’ve been devoting more time to my online writing, as well as reading others. In the past few months I’ve read The Count of Monte Cristo, The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, the four Twilight books, Watchmen, The Picture of Dorian Gray, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, I’m in the middle of Special Topics in Calamity Phsycis, The Road, and others I can’t remember right now. If you look in the thread, I apologized earlier for rash judgments I may have passed on material I didn’t read.

    Nevertheless, I am planning on reading one of your novels soon, as I’m moving and I’ll be living within a couple of blocks of a library. Plus, I started the movie House, earlier this month, and I think, even though I don’t think the filmmaking is entirely up-to-par, it’s one of the better made films with a Christian message out there. Is there one book in particular you would recommend to me, someone who has only read House and read the first thirty or so pages of Black?

  93. MissGIrl Says:

    Brandon –

    I’ve thought about this discussion at length and I think I’ve realized what you’re trying to say: you are holding all authors, all books, all writings to the same standard. I don’t think this is possible for several reasons. The main one being that each book is being written by a different author, a different human. Each person has a unique writing style, grammar syntax, vocabulary, etc. This will vary depending on that person’s life experiences, where they were raised, and cultures they’ve experienced. It’s like trying to make a formal gown and blue jeans/t-shirt fit the same “‘mold”; they can both be well made in their own right but have completely different purposes. You can’t wear jeans to a black tie event and you can’t wear a gown while hiking! You need a different machine needle (in some cases a different machine) and thread. They can both be made by NY fashion designers with equal followings in the fashion world but they are not measured on the same level of clothing. Yes, Charles Dickens wrote great books, had great grammar for his time in England, but Stephanie Meyer writes great books with great sentences and grammar for 21st Century America. They don’t compare to each other as there is not a singular guide for comparing them. They were written at different times in different countries.

    With your example of South Park, I have (unfortunately) seen several episodes and do view them as mindless trash. I do not see that they are well written. It truly comes back to audience. If you asked the creators of that show, they would agree. They didn’t make it for everyone and they know that. They realize that they have a specific audience and that is who they write for. Not general public. I have seen it and yet still view it as trash.

    I do have a question, you mentioned how, as a critic, you will see a movie several times so that you can view it in several attitudes and emotions yet, you earlier mentioned (I realize some time has elapsed since you wrote that and look forward to your response to Ted’s post) that you have only read 1 co-written book and 30 pages of another. Using your argument, you should read several books and read them several times (or at least one entire reading) so that you can view each book through several mind-sets and notice things that you didn’t catch the first time. My question is: how do you justify the two opposite practices? I’ve thought of another question (I AM a woman after all and my brain is like a plate of spaghetti which all topics connected and intertwined! :-P), it does connect to the original so it’s not totally random. Have you read the book that started this thread: Blink? I must confess, this is one of my favorite all time books, not just of Ted’s. I read it at least once a year. I do know that similar stories have been done but I was just curious if you’ve read the book.

    In review, I do agree that a book can be well written but not be well received and I do agree that a book can be a bestseller while not included subject-verb-object in each sentence. I do believe, in the end, the audience, not the actual writing, does determine the popularity of the book.

    To answer the original question, no, Ted Dekker is not a plagiarist. How many chick flicks include the same theme, how many movies contain vampires or zombies or aliens? They are not accused of plagiarism because its more of a “genre” not specific outline or idea. Yes, movies are done with “seeing the future” or in Blink’s case, the multiple futures based on choices by everyone involved. (He does see more than a few minutes into the future. It starts short but goes out in time as he builds his “mental muscle”.)

    There’s my 2 cents no matter their worth depending on the exchange rate! 🙂

    BTW – I received Ted’s latest book (signed and numbered), BoneMan’s Daughters, today and I am extremely excited to begin reading it.

  94. MissGIrl Says:

    quick note – I didn’t proof read that very well so I apologize for any mistakes. I’m too excited to start the book so I’m not even going to read it now. Just edit in your mind! Sorry…maybe next time will be better! 🙂

  95. See, that’s exactly what I’m NOT trying to do – hold all writers and authors to a universal standard. I’m NOT arguing that all writers need to have the same grammar, syntax, etc. How many times in this discussion have I said that I like a wide variety of different books, movies, and writing styles, how many times have I repeatedly said that I can appreciate stuff from different cultures and backgrounds? I grew up around the world, have lived in Benin, Togo, Switzerland, Portugal, Texas, California, and Eastern Washington, and been to a few dozen more places world and country-wide besides that. I have seen art, books, movies, from all the over world, I can appreciate all different kinds of styles and syntaxes and everything. What I am aruging for is that I think there can be some kind of standard which encompasses all these different kinds of beauties, because I believe a standard is necessary if “good” content is to be produced, and as we’ve discussed, “good” goes far far beyond enjoyable. And so I don’t say it lightly when I say that I think there can be some kind of standard, even if it can’t be completely known, because I am NOT ignorant of a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds and writing styles.

    “Charles Dickens wrote great books, had great grammar for his time in England, but Stephanie Meyer writes great books with great sentences and grammar for 21st Century America.”
    Charles Dickens wrote timeless novels that survive to this day and are used in, forgive the expression, “literature” classes all over the world. His work influenced millions and won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
    Stephenie Meyer writes uber-popular (for now) books that are very specific to a relatively small demographic, have barely sold a fraction of what, for example, another teen fantasy series, Harry Potter had sold by the time it reached its fourth novel, the movie version dropped dramatically in box-office receipts the second weekend, a testament to how small the fanbase actually was, not enough to support it finanically past the first few weekends, made about 380 million worldwide, not small peanuts, true, but the first Harry Potter movie made, let’s see, $974 million; she won’t be remembered fifty years down the road, she uses poor grammatical and sentence structure for 21st century America (I took college classes in 21st century America and read great teen literature for 21st century America and Twilight’s writing does NOT conform). There is NO comparison between these two writers.

    As for your analysis of South Park, well, simply because you are unaware of South Park’s messages that lie behind all the “offensive” content, that does not mean they do not exist, because they do. You believing they don’t has *no effect whatsoever* on their existence. Do you see what I’m saying? Most of their episodes promote tolerance and taking responsibility for your actions, the crude surface is a veneer that needs to be looked past if you’re to understand it. You not liking it has no effect on the show, or the existence of its morals. True, you’re not South Park’s audience, but hey, the content is still there, it still exists, and it’s your fault you don’t get it, not theirs. It’s a good, thoughtful, show, true, very crude, but with a lot of thought and effort put into it, so it’s not mindless, regardless of what your opinion of it. If you and I had a debate where the topic of discussion was whether or not South Park was mindless, complete with evidence, I would win, because for one, you don’t know the show, and for another, even if you did, there’s no way you’d be able to prove it. And by the way, the creators of that show aren’t polite, love everybody, there’s an audience for everything type guys. They mock absolutely everybody (they did a show where the kids claimed their friend Indy was raped, a reference to “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull”, truly a travesty of a movie), so I don’t think they’d side with you on this, sorry.

    I’m not going to comment on having read or not read Ted’s books. I’ve talked about that enough, apologized for my rash comment, that’s all there is to it. Yeah you do have a point; but earlier I also said that sometimes critics fail. And my post wasn’t a review of the book – I would never dream of writing a review of a book I didn’t read. It was a random thought I had after watching Adaptation, so let’s stop taking that out of context.

    And yes, the audience does determine a book’s popularity, but not necessarily its worth.

  96. MissGIrl Says:

    To quote you, “that’s exactly what I’m NOT trying to do – hold all writers and authors to a universal standard” while later in the paragraph you said, “And so I don’t say it lightly when I say that I think there can be some kind of standard”. Forgive my confusion by these seemingly conflicting statements. Could you please clarify?

    I understand that you have lived in various places and that you understand the cultures of those places. I have never questioned your personal knowledge. I apologize that you took it that way.

    I do not think people enjoy “bad” writing as a rule. In order for any number of people to enjoy the book there must be some element of “good-ness”. As Ted Dekker stated earlier, there is a team of editors that make sure the grammar and basic language “work”. Most books, I cannot say all because I have caught typos in too many published works, both fiction and non-fiction, to say otherwise, are “good” from the technical point of view. Some books call for a “lower level” (as opposed to the “classic language”), more conversational language. Yes, there were conversations in Dickens’ works but it is a different vernacular than the language used commonly in America today. We do not know what will be looked back on as “good” 150 years from now. There is no true way to judge this. “Good” literature has changed throughout the years as people groups have morphed and grown. I guess that’s my fault for comparing Dickens and Meyer, though really any current author.

    I do think that there is a basic standard for writing. This standard, however, does not determine a book’s popularity. And while a person not liking a book does not determine if it can be classified as “good”, the reverse is also true, just because a person likes a book, does not make it “good”. The editors make it “good” (by good I mean technically correct) and the author breathes life into it. If I were to try to write a book, in my mind it may be good though it may not be technically correct. That will come after the trained editors make sure that it works grammatically, however that grammar is, be it slang or proper. Thus the standard varies book by book. The purpose of the book determines the standard of “good” the book will be held to.

  97. “I do think that there is a basic standard for writing. This standard, however, does not determine a book’s popularity.”

    Then why are we debating? And I never said it determined a book’s popularity. That’s what I meant earlier, and here’s my clarification: I too think books and movies should be judged on a case-by-case basis. But I do also think that we can see similarities in the way people judge things are “good” and from that try to extract some kind of standard. I was hesistant to use the word universal because that makes it sound like every book needs to qualify to Shakespeare or Dickensian standards, which I am not arguing for at all. I think there can be a place for all kinds of novels, and those novels can do all kinds of good, but that doesn’t make them “good” novels. I fully believe there can be “bad” novels. Twilight is one of them. True, standards of “good” have evolved throughout the years, but from some of the earliest poets we have access to to the latest bestseller, there are similarities we can draw, things we can learn, instead of just giving up, throwing our hands in the air and saying, “Screw it! People’s tastes change! That’s all there is to it!” That’s just lazy, and kind of boring if you ask me. I see a unifiying beauty when I look at a South Park episode and the latest extremely well-written bestseller that I’m reading, the author of whom in full possibility, has never watched an episode of South Park in her life.

    “I do not think people enjoy “bad” writing as a rule.”

    I regret to inform you that it is fully and completely possible to enjoy “bad” writing. Why are there so many “so-bad-it’s-good” movies that you watch just to laugh? Other than this, someone can enjoy something and be unaware of its poor craftsmanship, or hate something and be unaware of its excellent craftsmanship. (Try shoving Shakespeare into a 6-year old’s face, she’ll blink at you and ask when Dora the Explorer is on). Explain to me how this is impossible.

    And for the record, when I say “good” I mean much more beyond simply technically correct. For example, movies and books can be hypocritical. The House Bunny, starring Anna Faris, came out last year. In it, she becomes the housemother of a sorority of girls. Oh, and she plays an ex-playboy playmate. Anyways, she gets the girls, who all dress in not-so-stylish clothing, are nerds, and aren’t very popular with the boys, to dress up by showing off cleavage and skin and throwing wild parties to get boys and get pledges for their house. The movie ends with some kind of message about being true to yourself, even though the entire movie’s plot was about changing who these girls were so they could be more popular with boys. This is an example of a movie whose technical details were fine, but whose message was conflicting and misogynistic. It’s just one of many examples of what goes into craft, much more than just the right amount of verbs or the right filter for your camera.

  98. Ted Dekker Says:

    Read Showdown… Written very blue collar, and quite theological.

    For a thriller just read my latest, BoneMan’s Daughter.

  99. dizzyjam Says:

    Hmmmmm……….I was wondering if this was still going on or not and thought I’d check on it. It did continue, and lo and behold, Ted Dekker has come back on here as well. It seems to have stopped a couple of weeks ago and I’m wondering a few things.

    Brandon, for the article you pointed out to me, I felt it was more of a reflection on people’s response to Twilight (specifically the women) than any real criticism or complement of the novel. From that I’d have to say it didn’t really help your argument as I understand it so far, but neither did it really damage it, just left me a bit confused as to just where you were coming from when you brought it up. I thought at first you had a major point to make with it, but once I read it, I just didn’t get what you were trying to tell me using it. Since I haven’t read Twilight yet, I can’t comment on it personally, but I can make some conclusions based on my observations. The Twilight series strikes me as a series with inferior grammar that appeals mainly to women on all levels because the story has enough depth that it pulls on the core of a woman’s needs. Some men are able to enjoy it as well because maybe they have that longing too. It’s a good book series in that it touches an audience that comes from a certain demographic. Is it well written grammatically? I don’t know, but it seems not to be according to some people. Of course I’ve heard (and maybe also in that article you mentioned) that some readers were disappointed with how the fourth book ended. Maybe that will ultimately make it a bad series if she couldn’t end it well. I hope these comments are enough for you to realize that I have thought about this.

    Miss GIrl, with your comment on spaghetti brains I’ve just got to wonder if you were on that thread where I posted that clip from Mark Gungor. Is that what you were referencing? It sure was funny wasn’t it? 🙂

    Ted Dekker, Hi. I haven’t read all your books yet, but I like what I’ve read so far. Each work has it’s own message so it’s hard for me to put a finger on what I like the best. Keep doing what you’re doing until you feel God leading you elsewhere. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    As far as South Park goes, I’ve watched it several times and I recognize the quality of stories that they have and have even laughed occasionally at the humor while crude, but I sure wish they could do it without all the nastiness – it’s so unneeded.

    Now the only thing that remains is this: Has Brandon read a Ted Dekker novel yet? And then: What did he think about it?

    Okay, that’s enough from me here. I’ll check back some time later and see what’s transpired.

  100. My point in including the Twilight post was to illustrate how even though millions of readers swear by them, it’s irrelevant to its status as a poorly written series. A main character being hot (and the amount of girls who read it because Edward’s hot is staggering) is not a reason for a book to be good. It may be a reason for you to enjoy it, but as we’ve established, enjoyment and recognizing something’s quality are not necessarily the same thing.

    Your comment on the lack of necessity for South Park’s crudeness is a discussion we could have at length – for I believe the crudeness is necessary. But you see? This series is good regardless of whether you or or I like it. We have different responses to it based on who we are, but in the end the core is that we recognize it as a good series. If we wanted to we could discuss about why we each believe South Park’s level of crudeness is necessary and unnecessary, and if we carried the discussion through to conclusion, perhaps we could come to some sort of agreement. But at this point we’re talking about specifics of its quality and the way it goes about it, not unimaginative, mindless, regurgitative, “Oh, that was a good movie.” “No, that sucks!” “Oh, well we disagree so that’s all there is to it!” We’ve taken a step beyond into something deeper and more enriching to our conversation, and to both our knowledge about South Park. Let’s examine and example where someone was not interested whatsoever in South Park potentially being a good show.

    With MissGirl, my conversation with her ended when I pointed out to her several of South Park’s good qualities. MissGirl’s response? “With your example of South Park, I have (unfortunately) seen several episodes and do view them as mindless trash. I do not see that they are well written. It truly comes back to audience. If you asked the creators of that show, they would agree. They didn’t make it for everyone and they know that. They realize that they have a specific audience and that is who they write for. Not general public. I have seen it and yet still view it as trash.” When I responded back to her and pointed out SP’s good qualities, she didn’t respond back. She was completely unwilling to even give South Park a chance, or even consider for a second that maybe it isn’t the mindless trash she believes it to be. Am I asking her to love the show as much as I do? Don’t be ridiculous. What I am asking is for her to respect its quality as a good show, unless she can give me reasons why it’s not, which she has failed to do so far. When I call Twilight a poor series, I’m not just saying that I’m not part of its audience, I’m saying I can give many reasons why it’s a poor series, reasons that will hold up under a lengthy discussion with a Twilight reader as long as they used sound argument techniques and rational thinking, not just, “Twilight’s awesome cuz EDWARD IS SO HAWT OMGZ!!!” You see, it’s about bringing it out of the subjective and into the objective. If you say that someone being hot makes a book good, you have to answer why. And if you do give a good reason, you have to answer to rebuttals, like: what about a book where the main character is ugly? Is that a bad book?

    And don’t worry, as soon as I read a Dekker novel I’ll post up my thoughts on it.

  101. I think your research is faulty. Thr3e the book was published in 2003. However, the film adaptation was released in 2006, not 2002.

  102. Um, you misunderstood the post. I was referring to Adaptation, the movie, which came out in 2002. The reason I mentioned thinking of the movie was because I wasn’t really familiar with it as a book.

  103. Hm, upon reading that again, it seems rather convoluted. To clarify: where exactly did I say that the film adaptation of Thr3e was released in 2002? Here’s what I said, verbadim:

    “Thr3e, the novel, came out in 2003, and adaptation came out in 2002.”

  104. Wemedge Says:

    Wow. This is the post that will not die…which reminds me a little of an observation by the very funy politics and arts pundit Mark Steyn about homosexuality. Once upon a time, Steyn says, it was called ‘the love that dare not speak its name.’ Now it’s ‘the love that just will not shut up.’

    I’m back to briefly respond to Ted’s kind invite to email him, way back in October of last year. Ted, I decided not to let you know who I am because I’m trying to get published and I need to do it on my own. I’m sure you have scads of people trying to break into print using you as a reference. Congrats on your recent sucesses and the smart tactic to farm out some of your ideas to younger writers a la old pro James Patterson.

    I’m still not a great fan of your prose (I’ve read 4 of your books, for the record), but you’re a regular idea factory, so kudos. Sure wish you’d get off that creepy serial killer kick of yours, but it’s your career, bro.

    BTW, I just finaled in the TARA contest. That’s the Tampa Bay Area Romance Writers contest. Yes, I’ve decided to become the Queen of romance. That’s Queen in the Nora Roberts sense, not the Mark Steyn sense.

    I found myself a nice pen name that could be either male or female (Morgan Taylor) and entered the contest and have found myself on of the finalists out of over 600 entrants. Now my entry goes to an aquisitions editor at Multnomah, which got gobbled up by Random House, for final judging. So pray for me- I don’t care about winning the contest, I just want the AE to request some chapters or the full manuscript from me.

  105. D. Risen Says:

    I’m digging Dekker’s Circle trilogy. I’m half way through the series and I’m really impressed. Unless he pulls a Matrix and wiffs in the final installment, I’m gonna rate him pretty high.

  106. MissGirl Says:

    some of us like the serial killer books. 🙂 to each his own…to me they are
    good…to you they’re not. 🙂 (playing on previous discussions)

    sorry for the lack of punctuation and caps…I’m so tired and haven’t slept for various reasons (writing, cleaning, etc) and I just don’t care right now…lol. 🙂

  107. There’s nothing wrong with serial killer books. A story about a serial killer could potentially be the best story I’ve ever read. A story being about a certain subject does not automatically preclude it from being good, and I never argued that it did. There can be both good and bad serial killer stories.

    What Wemedge was arguing for, in relation to Dekker, was that he believed Dekker should try to stretch himself as a writer and write more varied prose instead of sticking to the same old serial killer stuff (and here I can’t vouch for the veracity of this statement as I have not yet read Dekker’s books), and a desire to grow and create great works that push your creative boundaries is part of the definition of a good writer, I would say. If a novelist spends his entire career writing about some kind of mutated wildlife eating people, each book focusing on a different form of wildlife, even if each of the books is individually good, people like me and Wemedge believe that they do not exist in a vaccuum. If you read this person’s fiftieth wildlife-gone-wild novel, and have never heard of them before, you could be entirely swept up in the novel, simply because he is such a good author. But say you find out he’s written 49 others. This doesn’t necessarily detract from your experience of reading the novel, but doesn’t it put things into perspective?

  108. I’m just wondering whether you (Brandon) have read one of Ted Dekker’s books yet. If yes, could you please refer me to the link for your review, critique or general comments. Thanks everyone for this discussion. I am not trying to re-start this thread 🙂

  109. Allen Straith Says:

    I know this is a really, really old post. What, 2008? But I just have to say something.

    First off, a Dekker novel is not something everyone can get into. It is written for a certain type of person. I believe they are excellent but I heard them being called complete crap. Thats ok, I think most of what Stephen King writes is crap, although I love his Dark Tower novels and his alter ego “Richard Bachman” is an excellent writer as well. Does that mean the millions of fans out there that love his work are crazy and don’t know anything about writing? Nope, it just means we like different cups of tea.

    Second, Thr3e is a very good, well written novel and the movie was ok at best. But it had like, what, a 3 million dollar budget? Of course it’s not going to be as good as movies like Se7en. But it was decent, at least.

    Third, and finally, as others have pointed out it takes at least a year to get a novel published — not to mention it took Dekker 6 months to write the novel. Thats one and a half years before Sept. 2003 when the book was released. That would mean, at least, that Jan. or Feb. of 2002 the book was finished. That would mean Dec. 2001 or Jan. 2002 he wrote the first draft of the novel. That means sometime in 2001 he had the idea of the book in his head. Oh, and btw, this movie your talking about came out Jan 10 2003. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268126/ Dekker’s novel came out in Sept. 2003. Does that mean they copied him? I doubt it, but it’s possible. Do you see us Dekker fans making blogs saying the writer of this movie somehow got a ARC of Thr3e and copied the idea? Nope. At least, not that I know of.

    So please. Get some facts straight. And read The Circle Trilogy. It’s one of the most unique stories out there.

  110. Allen Straith Says:

    Also, I been reading the convo between Dekker and Brandon, and Brandon…I gatta say you are BOTH right.

    Dekker is talking about art. He believes people judge his work. He is the type of writer who could care less what some critic says about his work, as long as his fans like his latest novel — he is happy.

    However, you made a comment that Twilight and Eragon would be “up there” with other bigger and more critically acclaimed writers, sorry I don’t know any of the ones you mentioned — but thats not surprising, I am still discovering new novels every day (I am 22 and I started reading in Sept. 2003 with a book — you may have heard of it, I dunno, called THR3E…then I read Blink, then Black, Red, White…and so on). And thats true. Dekker more then likely will never be remembered as a great novelist. My children will not grow up reading Black in schools and colleges because it’s “the best novel ever”. He doesn’t write to transcend time. Some writers do. Dekker doesn’t. He writes for the hearts of man. He writes for his fans and his fans to be. Thats it. Thats why I say, you are both right.

  111. well… the movie says “based on the novel by ted dekker” so i imagine that it’s ted’s idea… just a simple observation

  112. Shadowless Says:

    I know its been over a year since the last post, but I wonder, Brandon, if you’re still there, what you think of Ted’s writing now? All of this is interesting to me, because of a run in with Ted I had over “words”. I’ve been a fan of his since the beginning. Have brought no doubt, hundreds of people to his fan base. Even had a guy tell me a buddy of his did not commit suicide because one of his stories changed his life. Anyhow, its been interesting.

  113. Someperson Says:

    Lol, I love this discussion. I would say I would have to go with Ted on this one. Though i completely understand where Brandon is coming from.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but basically what you are trying to say is that the masses can be wrong about what is or is not good art.

    The trouble there is, if the masses are all wrong, who is right?

    You? and why?

    Just because one person is more educated does that make him right?

    Art can never be perfected. Often times it is the flaws in art that make it wonderful to some.

    Some may find the ability to “steal” stories and string various common legends into a unique work an intoxicating art. Doing this in a way that maintains a readers interest is noteworthy.

    I am not by any means saying Ted did this, all I am saying is that there can be no standard for art. Each and every viewer must think for themselves and decide if what they are looking at is good or bad art.

    This is why I hate critics. They feel it is their job to guide people into making a judgment call that can only be made by their own analytical skills.

    And most of the time critics go against what the general populace deems worthy of art and entertainment.

    I understand that enjoying art and deeming it of high quality are two separate processes, but most people are smart enough to distinguish the two for themselves.

    We don’t need critics doing all our thinking for us.

    All in all critics make people lazy. They perform a very unnecessary task in our society.

    Often people like what they believe they are going to like and dislike what they believe they are going to dislike

    I have tried to read many many authors, and there have been only a few I have been able to actually read without getting bored.

    Ted Dekker is one of these few. It is like he says, the way he writes is purposed to take the writing out of the picture. That is exactly how I feel when I read one of his books.

    It doesn’t feel like I am reading a well written grammatically perfect book. It feels like I am living the story. That is what many stories miss with their “polished prose.”

  114. Someperson Says:

    Ill add this. When I read a Ted Dekker book, it doesn’t feel like I am reading a book, but living a story and that is art.

  115. Wow can’t believe this discussion is a year old

  116. Someperson, I appreciate your comments, but I would have to disagree with most of your post. First of all, you’re asking that if the masses are wrong, then nobody else can possibly be right. You insinuate that by me saying the masses could be wrong, the only other option is ME being right, and I did not say that at all. I didn’t say either that one person being more “educated” makes him or her right. I didn’t even say that art can be perfected. I didn’t say that art was flawless, either, or that it had to be flawless to qualify as art.

    You say, “Doing this [stealing stories and common legends into a unique work] is noteworthy.” Noteworthy, yes, but not necessarily art. For example, Avatar, the highest grossing film of all time, basically strung together a whole bunch of age old stories into a bright siny new package. Is it noteworthy that they got so many people’s attention? Yes, but looking into HOW and WHY they did is important if we are to judge it as a work of art. For example, the Na’vi were designed specifically to have as mass appeal as possible, the facial structure, the Disney eyes, the lithe bodies. The decision to craft them as they were was pure technical studying and a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers to USE the audience for their own box office gross – not integrity of story.

    You say there can be no standard for art. If each and every viewer has to decide for themselves what is and isn’t art then calling anything at all art is ultimately completely pointless. You’ve diluted the meaning of the word to where literally anything at all can be art, even throwing a tomato at a wall and calling its spilt entrails art.

    You say you hate critis because they feel it is their job to help people make good movie decisions. Why is this such a bad thing? You need teachers in school to help you better understand concepts as you grow up, You need driving instructors to make you a better driver, you need doctors and scientists to tell you what’s healthy and good for you. I’m not saying that we should take critics advice blindly, and most critics wouldn’t say that either, so it’s not fair of you to lump them all into one category like that, and speaking as a critic myself, it’s kind of insulting.

    “And most of the time critics go against what the general populace deems worthy of art and entertainment.”

    ART and ENTERTAINMENT are two different things. Please don’t use them interchangeably like that. Also, what would you qualify as “most of the time?” Do you have any backup for this at ALL? XD And doesn’t a work’s endurance as a piece of art, in terms of how long it stays in the publics memory, have significance as to whether something is art or not? Harry Potter will be revered as a fantasy classic a hundred years down the road, but Twilight? I seriously doubt it, as 80% of its fanbase is teenage girls and that’s not art, it’s hormones.

    “Most people are smart enough to distinguish the two for themselves.” Are they? On what do you base this?

    “We don’t need critics doing all our thinking for us.”
    Critics don’t ASK to do your thinking for you! They never have! They’re just doing their jobs, and writing reviews would be repetitive as all get out if every other sentence they stopped to write, “This is just my opinion.” DUH it’s their opinion!!

    “All in all critics make people lazy. They perform a very unnecessary task in our society.”
    What critics (the good ones) do is write to the best of their ability about a movie they see so that a reader can use it to make an informed decision about going to see a movie. How is that making them lazy? Should we as moviegoers spend our hard earned cash on every thing that comes out just because we thought the trailer looked good? I hope you don’t think trailers are ever a very good indication of a film’s actual quality, because if you do you’ve lost all credibility with me.

    “Often people like what they believe they are going to like and dislike what they believe they are going to dislike.”
    And this is my main problem with your whole point. Art is about THINKING, it is about THINKING about PERCEIVING, it is about looking beyond what you “like” or “dislike,” it is about removing yourself from yourself and not just taking how you feel as an automatic indication of something’s quality. You’re basically saying that people are gonna like what they like and dislike what they don’t, and many people feel that way, but it is irrelevant to art in a True sense.

    “It doesn’t feel like I am reading a well written grammatically perfect book. It feels like I am living the story. That is what many stories miss with their “polished prose.””
    OH MY GOSH. This is what people like you who hate critics do all the time. You think critics only focus on the techncial aspects, like critics are super narrow minded. You think that it doesn’t matter if a story has polished prose. But hey, GUESS WHAT – you’re able to be in Ted’s story because he DOES have polished prose!! And you’re not supposed to notice the polished prose because it would distract from the story, but if it DIDN’T have polished prose you wouldn’t be so caught up in the story in the first place!!! It doesn’t matter if you as a reader don’t think about it – if you’re not thinking about it, the writer is doing his job! But the point is that the thoughtfulness that was put into that writing was all part of what made Ted’s book good. This is why it’s so important to THINK about what we consume with our eyes and our ears. As they say in Memento, “The world doesn’t disappear just because you close your eyes.” You’re able to read Ted’s book and be living a story precisely because he is so technically proficient. Just because you don’t notice it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

  117. yeaman Says:

    Had to say something even though this discussion is so old. First, I appreciate a good debate about something controversial. This whole blog is very interesting. Secondly, I need to say that Ted Dekker is my fav author and that Thr3e is like the best book ever. (Ive never heard of Adaptation, so I cant address plaguirism. Didnt spell that right I know. Also , great how this debate stemmed into fifty million other things. Next, Brandon, Im glad you gave Ted a chance to voice his opinion also. very fair of you. Have to agree on Ted though for most points. Art is determined to be good or bad by the audience. Obviously the public disagreed with review on Avatar (3 stars), because it is top grossing movie ever.

    Ted, if you’re ever on here again, I’d love to know a couple things.

    1) Are you a born again Christian? If so, whats up with books about serial killers?

    2) Im reading Red right now, and Id love to know how you thought to write a series about alternate realities that are intertwined. All for now, check back later.

  118. Jessica Says:

    This might be the oddest thing I have ever done. Especially since this thread is so long dead.

    Brandon, you admit that your fist judgment of Ted Dekker was rash and unfounded, But I believe your main point is that art should and does have standards. And that the majority can not always decide what IS art based on their opinions of it. You are right. I am going to try and explian in different terms why you are right.

    I am a dancer so I will draw my comparisons with dance. There are thousands if not more different styles of dance, as there are many different styles of writing. (mind you I’m not talking Genre because Genres typically contian many of the different writing styles) Some people like dance, and some don’t some people like a certain style of dance and some don’t . Regardless of people’s opinion, EVERY style of dance as a specific technique to it. Go to any place in the world and watch that culture’s dance, you will see it has technical variance. It often takes years to learn the proper technique to perform a style of dance correctly. The same is true with writing.

    In order for a dance to be good it must have the proper technique executed the correct way. If you are not familiar with the technique you cannot judge wether it is good or bad. I can enjoy an African trbal dance or I can hate it. But because I do not know what the proper technique is for that style, I cannot tell you if it was good or not. The same is true with all art forms. It does not matter if you enjoy a book or a movie or a play or not. If you do not understand the technique that is supposed to be in it, you cannot judge if it is good or not. You Are allowed your opinion of wether or not you Liked it however. Does this make sence?

    Let me use another example from My experiance. I personally have been trained in many forms of dance. I understand the proper technique and how that tecnique should be executed in the forms of dance I have trained in. I am therfore qualified to judge the performance of those styles. And can also judge my own perfomance of these. Many people have seen me dance and later come to me to say that I am an amazing dancer. While I appreciate their compliments and am truly glad that they enjoyed my performance I can most assuredly tell you I am NOT an amazing dancer. The reason for this is because that even though I know and understand the technique and how it should be executed in a style, I fail to properly execute some of it in my dancing. I don’t have the physical ability to do some of the things required properly.

    I am a good dancer and I can entertain many people. I understand that I have a gift and I will continueto use it. I also understand that I will never be a great dancer.

    I like Ted Dekker, and a multitude of other authors. I also dislike a number of authors. I enjoy some books, I hate some books, and some book I find okay. But this does not make ME qualified to say who is a good writer and who is not. Every writer has a purpose and they each fill a niche that is important in some way. But this does not necessarily make them good writers.

    I belive that was you point? I hope what I said makes sence to those who read it.

  119. Jessica – THANK YOU! It seems i’m in a big minority here as almost everybody who stop by seems to think that art is only judged person by person, but I love what you said about technique. The tribal dances that we mentioned earlier some foreigners may find ugly because they do not understand the technique, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there is some intricate technique involved, and if you do it wrong, those tribal people are going to laugh at you, or be offended, or think you’re doing a crappy job. And if the common retort of, “well it’s good in my eyes your guys’ judgment of whether or not it’s good doesn’t apply,” was to come up, it would not make any sense to those natives because they’ve spent years, and often their whole lives, dedicated to perfecting that dance. The key word, as you so eloquently put, Jessica, is technique. I like to dance hip-hop myself, and when I dance for friends who don’t know it very well, they’re alwyas impressed despite me assuring them that compared to people who really know what they’re doing, I’m actually quite terrible. XD It reminds me of talking to a friend once awhile ago, who asked me if I read a lot of books.
    My response: “Yeah, sot of, but not really.”
    His response: “So you’ve read enough to know what you dont read a lot.”
    Which is a great way of putting it. There comes a point with any kind of art form (books, movies, dance, etc.) where you do enough of it to realize how little you know about it. Once again, great post. 🙂

    Yeaman – “Art is determined to be good or bad by the audience. Obviously the public disagreed with review on Avatar (3 stars), because it is top grossing movie ever. ”

    Okay, let’s talk about Avatar. You do realize that the reason it made so much money was because of the ridiculous amount of hype behind it and the fact that people who don’t usually go out to movies (and thus are less qualified to judge it as a work of art) came out in droves. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it. (If you look at my review archive I gave it a 9/10.) Also, I would think it’d be kind of insulting to an author or creator that the only way to validate their work is by counting how many dollars were shelled out to go see it. People will spend their money on the most ridiculous, retarded things. Millions of dollars are shelled out annually for Hummers, which were designed for use by the military, but they started selling commercially and are absolutely horrible for the environment. Over 50% of the internet is used for porn, so clearly there is a huge audience for that, but doubt it counts as art. Porn makes more money yearly than any other industry in the world, takes in like three times as much as avatar ever did. So think about what you’re saying. If you’re saying that we can declare avatar art because so many people spent money on it, what’s to be said for porn? And you’re also assuming that the people who paid to see it would qualify it as good art, which is assuming a lot considering millions of people saw it. If your response to these criticisms is that “Well avatar is a movie and porn is porn” on what basis are you making that statement? Any answer you can possibly give would involve establishing some kind of standard, and why is that standard any more valid than the standards people use to evaluate different art forms?

  120. JESUS FREAK!!!!! Says:

    ted dekker is thee best author ever to be known.i love the circle trilogy+1, i even begain looking into the idea of writting a screen play for the books.i totally agree with ted on pretty much everything he has said.he has helped me with my faith on many different accounts, so thank-you ted(hope you end up reading this).

    I was fortunate enough to go to the National Youth Conference this year in louisville,kentucy.it was absolutly amazing.it was the most uplifting thing i have ever experienced.Ted i am sure that alot of people would be delighted to see you at NYC 2015.you should go!!

    any way,youre books helped me so much. i cried at the end of red i never actually thought of god giving us his son like that before.i cant wait to read the alternate endeing of green.againTHANKS!!!!!!!!

    BTW,brandon you write way to much shorten your replies,so hard to folow.

  121. JESUS FREAK!!!!! Says:

    i wanted to clairify something NYC doesnt stand for National Youth Conference, it stands for Nazerene Youth Conference 8).sorry my bad.still hope you would go.8)

  122. purpleshadowhunter Says:

    Ok so I just wanted say a couple of things:
    ~I haven’t read all the post but atleast 50-75%,sorry eyes r getting tired
    ~I LOVE TED DEKKER,he is my favorite author and have read almost all his books and YES some have changed my way of thinking and opened my eyes to God in a different way than I was use to thinking.
    ~I also love other authors and genres
    ~I find books that I connect with or move me or keep me on the edge
    ~I also think beauty(and art,books,movies,media,etc.)is in the eye of the beholder.We are all made different,think, feel,enjoy and experience different things.
    ~And YES I have seen movies and read books that I swear have been stole from someone else but it doesn’t upset me because usually it is something I like anyway and if it isn’t then I move on,no harm done.
    PS:no need to reply I just had to put my two cents in I am not out to argue or offend anyone.

  123. dekkerbuddy.com/READMYPOSTPLEASE Says:

    What about what Dekker has been writing about? Give that any thought? He was writing about how Jesus came to die this awful death so He could have us come to Heaven with Him in the Circle series, my first Dekker books. Wouldn’t it be kinda condescending if it turned out that one of his books was a stolen idea? JESUS LOVES YOU. Please read the series, it’ll do you some good, if you really think about what you’re reading.

  124. I really do admire Dekker for how he’s able to incorporate his faith into books that millions of people read, including millions of non-Christians. Undoubtedly God is using him in this world to reach readers of supernatural fiction who may not otherwise encounter Him. This doesn’t mean he always has perfect writing style, though, and I’m sure even he would tell you that. I’m sure that he would also tell you he tries to make each work better than the last. Most books have no greater critics than the writers themselves. The Bible was written perfectly, exactly how God wanted it to be written, he because he inspired those who wrote it. Ted may draw some inspiration from God, but God and salvation being a main subject of his novels is hardly a reason to call them well-written. Some of the crappiest books I’ve read have the Christian faith as the subject, and I’ve noticed how Christian writers and filmmakers tend to use their faith as an excuse to make a sub par film. “Fireproof” is a good example.

    I’m sure thousands of Christians found that movie to be very inspirational and life-changing, as evidenced by the exploding sales of the book that came out along with the movie. Good for them. It doesn’t mean the movie present a realistic view of theworld, though. The characters are too vanilla, the acting is sub-par, and the plot is predictable and, in my opinion, boring. Take a look at most worship music these days, too. Most of it is repetitive, shallow, and self-centered. Writing out “I love you more than life” fifteen times does not require any talent, and is kind of dishonest because most Christians don’t love God more than life most of the time. That’s part of our human struggle. It’s challenging to love him more than life. But vanilla praise songs ignore this challenge and pretend like it’s all good in the hood and God solves all your problems everywhere all the time. I once heard a song whose chorus went something like this

    “You got what I need!
    In a life full of problems
    I know that you can solve them!
    You! Got what I need!”

    Now, it’s true God does have what we need. But what we need is rarely a solution to our problems. God created us as humans to endure trials so that we might draw closer to him. When you become a Christian, it’s only the beginning of your troubles and problems. So this song is dishonest about the true experience of the Christian faith. God is not some drug that you buy into and all of a sudden you’re a super happy person whose life is perfect. God is an unbelievably holy and perfect being who has plans for you that will test you and make your life tough and real, but never problem-free.

    • Fireproof was okay. They had one good actor (kirk cameron) and a really low budget. But the main problem was Sherwood’s stubbornness. For some reason they decided to require every movie they made to have a “conversion scene” because this somehow validates it as a Christian movie. Whereas a movie like “How to Save a Life”, while admittedly not the pinnacle of artistry in film, portrays a very Christian message, challenges the Christian church, and does it all without a conversion scene. My point being, that the Christian church needs to realize that Christian movies and music are art forms and nerfing the quality of your art form just so you can make “Christian enough” does not glorify God as much as putting all your effort into making this book, play, etc., the best thing it can possibly be. In other words, Sherwood had a good thing going and they blew it by not realizing that a “Christian film” does not have to be blatantly Christian to convey a strong Chistian message. Case in point, the Liam Neeson movie “The Grey”.

  125. Man… I only pray that I may be loved by enough readers (however many), and worked hard enough on my own ability to tie down a story with this thing we call language, to spark such a wildfire debate someday.

  126. I think that what you published was actually very reasonable. However, what about this? what if you wrote a catchier title? I ain’t suggesting your information isn’t good., however suppose you added a headline to possibly get folk’s attention? I mean Is Ted Dekker a plagiarist? is a little boring. You should look at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create news headlines to grab viewers to click. You might add a video or a related pic or two to grab people excited about what you’ve got to say. In my opinion, it could bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

  127. This is thread is SUPER fascinating. I believe the real Ted was going back and forth with you for a while. If not, the impersonater did a brilliant job.

    I agree almost fully with you. To call your most obvious flaws intentional, and then to proceed to dodge the question by saying that art is in the eye of the beholder is pure cowardice and an insult to the form itself. I mean, take some damn pride in your work (by which I mean real, earned pride, not hubris).

    Have you ever read “The Art of Fiction” by John Gardner? It’s a creative writing classic. Give it a look-over and if you ever run into Mr. Dekker, perhaps you can deliver a copy (by hand, preferably, by projectile, if necessary).

    Here is a great quote: “To read or write well, we must steer between two extreme views of aesthetic interest: the overemphasis of things immediately pleasurable (exciting plot, vivid characterization, fascinating atmosphere) and exclusive concern with that which is secondarily but at times more lastingly pleasurable, the fusing artistic vision.”

    He describes work like this as “…merely commercial — often shoddy imitation of authentic originality in the realm of the popular.”

    A friend of mine is an editor at a “Christian” publishing house. It’s a difficult life – for business purposed, he is required regularly to sign off on complete dreck. And it is a tidal wave, but he is fighting against it.

    I guess I’m writing all this to say, take heart, write well. There are others standing with you.

  128. I spent more time reading this thread than I did reading any of Dekker’s early works. I just couldn’t get into them. I owned copies of most of them because my mother knows I love books and likes to give me first editions of whatever she thinks is good. Sometimes it’s a score for me; other times not so much. But why comment on a thread that was started soooo long ago? I was bored but intrigued. I still haven’t read Three. However, I picked up The Bride Collector for a beach read two summers ago and devoured it. Bonemans Daughter was brilliant as well. Either my taste has gone to crap (which I hope is not the case) or his writing has matured over the years. I can’t speak to Adaptation, haven’t seen it. I remember Identity was an underated multiple personality flick though. Sorry for my rambles. Am following the blog now, I hope you are still writing it…

  129. Thank you all for your comments!!! I am sorry to say that as of now, this blog is on hold. 😦 A lot of changes have been going on in my life lately and I actually started a blog at another website that I hope you’ll check out and follow. 🙂

    http://www.lovefrombenin.wordpress.com

    Some final thoughts on Ted Dekker and his writing…it may interest you all to know that I DID actually finally get around to reading some of his work. I read the Showdown, Saint, Sinner trilogy, and I have to be completely honest here: many of my fears were exactly confirmed in reading them. They came off like a Hollywood blockbuster version of the faith. There are scenes in them when the characters merely pour out blinding light from their mouths as a replacement for any real drama or spiritually based reality. The central concept of the books, that these children can write beings into existence, was fascinating to me as a writer, and many of the ideas and set pieces in the book will stick with me forever. But none of the characters stuck with me and I found myself more reading the books to get them out of the way than to find out what happens to the characters. There is also A LOT of crying. Scenes were people just bawl into each other’s shoulders for apparently no other reason than it’s been a few pages since the last bawling scene. If one character loves another deeply, Ted will not find a creative or descriptive way to write it. He will write, “He loved her. Deeply. He loved her so much.” There is something to be said for this kind of straightforward unencumbered writing, but there’s a difference between simple and simplistic. Ted’s work, at least the trilogy, I read, has some great ideas and an awesome story, but is harmed by poor execution that really drew me out of the whole thing with how cheesy and predictable it was. I’m sorry, Ted. 😦

  130. I feel it vital to note, though, what I said earlier: my comment on the quality of his writing and works in no way disparages how many people he has reached. What Ted’s writing reminded me most of, in terms of finding an equivalent in movies, was the Independence Day, 2012, Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla type films. Films where any message is diluted among a parade of cataclysmic climaxes and over-the-top set pieces that choke humanity out of the characters with the fiercely iron grip of bombast. Clearly, there are many people who find Ted wonderfully entertaining, and I also don’t have much right to comment on an entire author’s work when I’ve only read three books. I will say that my stated response earlier remains, and I still believe this to be true even in my own writing: There is a difference between entertainment and well-crafted art. I can’t argue with the impact Ted has made (nor was I ever trying to) but I can stand firm on my belief that he, really, is a little bit too straightforward for me and I honestly think he could do better. I haven’t read some of his later work, perhaps he has gotten better, I hope so! I do know that he has intrigued me enough with his work so far to, if my reading schedule permits, check out another of his books someday.

    Mentioning Dekker, I feel I also have to point out Peretti. Peretti recently wrote a novel called, “Illusion,” which I found to be the kind of Christian fiction this world needs more of – vivid characters detailed and alive and speaking the Truth about Christianity without the aid of over-the-top light vs. dark literalism. I guess you could say I’m comparing apples and oranges here; point taken. I still believe there is something to be said for craft that does not rely solely on audience.

    I do wish Ted the best, as well as all of his mind-blowingly faithful following that has made my blog far more viewed than it has any right to be, and for that I can be eternally grateful to Ted, as a brother in writing and in Christ. 🙂

    With all that said, I plug once again my blog. I recently moved back to the country in Africa where I grew up: Benin. I started a blog that is about a month old so far, but its idea is to basically share poetry, short stories, entries, thoughts on the differences between American culture and Beninese culture, with friends and family I left back home. If that sounds like your cup of tea (with Hezbollah 😉 ) then I highly suggest you check it out. I am in over here in Benin for about another year; when I get back I’ll see if God is leading me to dust off thsi blog once again, and if He is, you guys will be the first I let know.

    Thank for you all your fiery, impassioned, precocious and precious comments. God bless and God speed to you all. 🙂

    http://www.lovefrombenin.wordpress

  131. Woops. Here is the blog site again, due to my egregious typo. Love, to all of you. 🙂

    http://www.lovefrombenin.wordpress.com

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  133. Vladimir Says:

    I found this looking for information on Ted Dekker for an essay I’m writing about his works. I’m a fan of Dekker’s writing regardless that I’m Agnostic and not a believer, his books have widened my perspectives just as any good book should. My older brother recommended Thr3e to me when I was in 6th grade..thank God (ironic wording for an Agnostic, I know) I didn’t actually read it until a few months ago. But my brother’s urging to read Thr3e DID point me in the direction of Black, and in turn, the rest of the Circle Series. Dekker has a gift for vividly describing the setting while keeping in tune with so much detail of what is going on, all the while pulling in the reader.

    P.S. Brandon, you should look into the works of a Philosopher named Wittgenstein (pretty sure that’s it). He goes into what DEFINES art. His theory was, I believe, in response to Plato’s claim that art is meaningless and a waste of time.

    • Vladimir Says:

      Also Brandon, in regard to your post mentioning Dekker’s way of describing the love one feels for another in his books and the crying…He keeps it simple because love in his books is meant to be a childish feeling, many of his characters have this sort of childish level of emotions that separates them from others. in Thr3e, the main character has never fully matured due to the way he was raised, in Saint, the main character has childish emotions due to the way he believes in God, in the Circle series, God (Elyon) is depicted as a child, and the people of the “Green Forest” are open and plain in their emotions. And I know you can respond to that by saying it lacks creativity to have something similar like that in every book, but a lot of his books do have background information that tie themselves into one another. I view this as a sort of literary genious, but that is subjective just as everything else is. I think the childish emotions in regard to faith is something of a personal signature for his stories, like every rockstar has something special they do on stage that they are known for, Dekker has something special he puts on paper that he is known for and recognized by.

      • It’s also worth pointing out that The Circle, The Paradise Trilogy (Showdown, Saint, Sinner), and the Books of History Chronicles are all part of the story. (Which, frankly, is terrifying)

  134. WOW.. I’m reading this in 2013 and feel like getting in on the discussion. Ted Dekker is a fantastic author, but I dont read a lot of his books, and cant bring myself to buy them either.
    For me, a christian author should do more than write an interesting story.. or aim to sell millions of books.. he should preach the gospel.
    The first Ted Dekker book I read was Blessed Child, and I was so blessed by it. I started searching all over for his books and was a bit disappointed to discover that Blessed Child was a kind of exception to the rule. Most of his other works are not very inspirational or impactful.
    Is he a good storyteller, yes. But I dont think he’s much of a christian author.. I think he pays lip service to christian themes, and is actually more in the mold of a Stephen King. You cant compare Dekker’s books to Frank pereti or Francine Rivers..
    You dont have any doubt when reading The Darkness novels or the Oath that Frank’s motivation for writing is to advance the gospel and to be a light in a dark world. The feeling I get from Ted is commercialism.. and he admitted as much when he said he writes to please audiences.. rather than because he was inspired by God, or because he has a message for his generation.
    Today, christians are comprising in almost all areas of human endeavor for wealth, fame and popularity. Ted is popular, even with unbelievers, mainly because hardly anyone will get convicted by his writing. Most of his books (bar a few like Blessed Child) are what a friend described as pop fiction. Shallow, lacking conviction and forgettable. I would love him better if he wasnt described as a christian author. He should just stick to secular writing like King or Grisham, and stop paying lip service to inspirational writing.
    He may not be writing for money anymore, but I think he enjoys been famous and being adored by fans. He’s also obviously very ambitious and wants to out sell every other christian author out there (for the accolades/prestige/title of best selling christian author), hence the obsession with writing to please the fans. A motivation that just seems wrong for any writer being touted as a christian author. Where’s the accountability and integrity?
    It’s like in music, you hear a supposed christian album where the name of Jesus or God is not mentioned even once, just because the musicians want to be more mainstream, so that they can make it to the secular charts, sell more records and make more money. It’s called compromise, and it’s not particualarly laudable.

  135. […] doing some Google searching on Ted Dekker I came across a post at a critic’s website called PopCultureEntertainment. The original post was about whether Dekker is a plagiarist but the conversation in the comments […]

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