Sunday, February 26, 2012

On "Writers"

Shut up. No seriously, shut up. I've been unfortunate enough to be shown the blogs of signed writers and various agents. And while these blogs can be composed quite well, the comments sections reveal a dark underbelly of Internet critiquing. If you want to ask the Internet for non technical writing advice, don't. Nobody really knows what they're doing, and I'll get to that later on. But first, I really want to share my perspective on the bullshit I've read.

It has come to my attention that many "writers" are telling people not to use uncommon words. I've sadly seen this all over. And recently, I discovered many believe the word "timbre" is old fashioned, obscure, confusing, pedantic, and has no business in a sentence describing the quality of a sound. Insanity!

Amateur writers, just like every other creative type, want to feel important. And the only way they can get anyone to pay even remote attention to them is by desperately berating works and promoting themselves via comment sections. It's rare to get advice from talented or skilled people because people are rarely talented or skilled. And nobody should be listening to the majority of them, let alone taking them seriously.

Commercial fiction is like pop anything else: no one really knows what's going to be the next big thing. And anyone who tells you they do is lying. For instance, a lot of these popular, paranormal novels were published over a decade ago and only gained real success by riding on the coattails of a certain vampire novel / series that was published in 2005 and will not be named.

Another problem, these people aren't reading enough. I've met "writers" who've only read A novel. And many are clueless when it comes to the poetic and artistic elements of story telling. When I write my fiction, I play with sounds, syllables, and phrasing to convey emotion, atmosphere, and personality without being direct. And this leads me to another issue: Passive reading.

The greatest, most legendary writers did not make completely passive works. Today's stories tend to spoon feed everything to its audience. You're told a characters motives in great detail, you're told how they feel in exact words, foreshadowing is presented (more often) as a psychic prediction rather than a highlighted series of logical events which guide the reader to their own conclusion, and worst of all: You're even told how to react! So, when they critique your work, they will bash you for making them do the slightest of thinking. And doubly so if they have to actually google something.

"OMG, I have to google a word ... that will take like five frak'n seconds! Worst book ever!" - Typical Internet Writing Expert
Who you should listen to is agents. They actually know what the publishers are looking for. And unlike the unsigned writers, they have insider information and something to gain from you getting published. It's a sad fact, but more often than not, people will try and sabotage you — whether they even know they're doing it.

Also by showing your work, you're putting yourself at risk of having any of your good ideas stolen. Honestly, you can be a very average writer and make millions with one great idea. And stealing work isn't always a conscious experience. I can't count how many times I've wrote a song only to realize that I simply, unknowingly ripped off someone else.

What should you do if you want help with your work? Well, there are plenty of books on narrative structure, and you'll want to adhere to CMOS (The Chicago Manual of Style) for punctuation and grammar. Also, read a lot! Even if you want to write young adult, challenge yourself. Actively read some of those classic tomes. And the rest is just trial and error to discover your voice and your artistry.

1 comment:

  1. +1!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We shouldn't write for the illiterati - we should write for the people we WANT to read our books. If you're too lazy to look up an unfamiliar word, you're not going to like my work.