I liked the Harry Potter novels so this isn't meant as a slam towards them, and I could be all wrong -- this might have nothing to do with the success of Harry Potter...
I recently had a conversation with Mo's English teacher. Teacher was having a hard time finding a book to recommend to Mo -- everything he suggested Mo rejected. He wanted my input on what kind of books Mo would like.
He pressed a book on me suggesting I read it with Mo. All the boys Mo's age love this book, he said. I looked up the book on Amazon and sure enough, all the boys Mo's age loved this book.
We read it. Mo thought it was okayish, I thought it was awful.
I kept trying to figure out what it was that I didn't like about it. I was thinking about it today when the old saw "show, don't tell" popped into my head. I googled the phrase and came up with a writer (who was arguing that "tell" is just fine) who said:
A story is not a movie is not a TV show, and I can’t tell you the number of student stories I read where I see a camera panning. Movies are a perfectly good art from, and they’re better at doing some things than novels are—at showing the texture of things, for instance. But novels are better at other things. At moving around in time, for example, and at conveying material that takes place in general as opposed to specific time (everything in a movie, by contrast, takes place in specific time, because all there is in a movie is scene—there’s no room for summary, at least as we traditionally conceive of it). But most important, novels can describe internal psychological states, whereas movies can only suggest them through dialogue and gesture (and through the almost always contrived-seeming voiceover, which is itself a borrowing from fiction). To put it more succinctly, fiction can give us thought: It can tell. And where would Proust be if he couldn’t tell? Or Woolf, or Fitzgerald? Or William Trevor or Alice Munro or George Saunders or Lorrie Moore?
And it hit me -- what I didn't like about the book is that it read like a movie treatment. I didn't "feel" the characters, I just knew what they were doing at any given point. I often didn't even really understand why they were acting the way they were.
I know YA books rely more on action that exposition but still it seems that some of them come across as manufactured in hopes of being made into movies. They're all tell and no show.
I don't think J.K. Rowling did this but I'm wondering if YA fiction writeres and publishers just got some kind of crazy head rush thinking they'd all be billionaires if they could just get their books turned in to movies so they just churn out slop hoping for the best.
I'm still turning this "show, don't tell" idea over in my head and I'm hoping that some of A2K's readers and writers can fill me in on this idea a bit more.