After years of seeing her books in stores and movies made from them on network TV, I recently decided to read a Danielle Steel novel. It was curiosity that led me to it. I wanted to see just how “bad” her storylines are.
I was actually surprised to see that the storyline wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it was good! The book I picked up, Rogue, was actually a nice story of a divorced couple finding their way back together. Sure, there was more cussing than I would have liked. And I didn’t care for the drinking and the sex scenes (though they were not nearly as graphic as I had expected). Over all, it was an entertaining book. It could have been an amazing, unforgettable tale (especially the part where the husband finally “grows up”).
Could have been. But it wasn’t.
Even more of a surprise than the “tameness” of the book was the writing ability of Danielle Steel. Or should I say that lack of writing ability.
OK, so the woman has sold a lot of books. According to the Wikipedia entry about her, Steel has sold 550 million copies of her books, had 22 books made into TV movies, spent nearly 400 weeks at the top of the New York Times best seller list, and is the 7th bestselling author of all time. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danielle_Steel) Between 1973 and 2009, she wrote and published over 75 books, not counting her children’s books and non-fiction offerings. She is obviously a very successful writer, with a career many of us can only dream of.
Personally, I would prefer to eek out a meager living with one or two well-written novels than be raking in the profits of nearly one hundred poorly written ones.
OK, so maybe that isn’t fair. Maybe I just picked a bad example of her writing. Maybe the others are not as poorly written as Rogue. Obviously there is someone out there who likes them. I won’t be spending my time reading through them all, trying to find one that isn’t a dud, though.
Why do I think this is a dud? Mainly because there is one “rule” that I have always heard about writing, one thing that I strive to do—”Show, don’t tell”. In this book, I felt that Steel was telling me what she wanted me to know, not showing me. She repeatedly talks about how “flaky” Blake is and how is never around for his ex-wife and kids. She doesn’t SHOW it, though. In the scenes with Blake and the kids, he is very involved with them, and appears to be very hands-on. And as far as telling, there are so many places in the book where she just repeats the same thing over and over. It’s like she is trying to convince herself and her readers of what is happening.
Danielle Steel may be one of the most known, bestselling authors of all time. But based on just this one book, her work is not something that I want to spend my time on.