Yes, the Writing Matters

I read a blog post from an influencer in the indie industry today. He said the writing doesn’t matter. Well…not so much anyway. Really what’s important is to give the readers what they know. It’s content over form. (That pesky craft stuff is not really necessary, although watch the typos because that really irritates people.)

He then went on to explain that as long as you put in the expected tropes and clichés (with your own special twists of course) then that’s when people will want to read what you write.

(Which perhaps explains why there is so much bad fiction out there, I suppose.)

But here’s the question:

If the writing doesn’t matter then why call ourselves writers? Why don’t we call ourselves trope-ists or cliché’ists or trend-ists?

If we don’t need to care about word choice, or flow or character development or any of that bothersome ‘craft’ stuff. If the form doesn’t really matter.

If a book dashed off in a month is as good as a book written with care, then edited and revised and polished, then why are we putting in all that effort? Why are we torturing ourselves? Clearly it’s more important that we start selling our stuff. Clearly what’s important is us. And selling our crap.

Because if the writing doesn’t really matter then the reader doesn’t really matter either, right? Unless they buy our crap.

If anybody can be an author and anybody is good enough to be an author (as long as they stay on the trope train) then being a writer doesn’t mean much does it? If writing a book is no big deal, because everybody is doing it and can do it, then why should anyone care?

And if words and the craft of words (a.k.a. communication) don’t matter to writers then who will they matter to? If language and communication isn’t important to us as creators, where are we headed? Where is society headed?

It matters…yes, it does…

YES, the writing does matter.

Because the reader matters.

Because your writing isn’t all about you. It shouldn’t be anyway.

It’s all about the reader. It should be anyway.

Shouldn’t it?

I think so.

What do you think?

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16 thoughts on “Yes, the Writing Matters

  1. I would need to read this referenced blog post to be able to fully understand what that influencer is saying. Because if you’re saying that “It’s all about the reader,” then wouldn’t you be in agreement with this indie influencer? If a writer’s purpose is to focus on the reader, wouldn’t they focus on tropes and cliches that match the desires of their reader, thus making the writing matter less?

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    1. it was an email sent to me because I was on his mailing list.

      not sure I understand why you would think that tropes and cliches would be beneficial to the reader.
      (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trope) these are over-used words, phrases and scenarios that generally are used in hackneyed writing, movies, and tv shows.

      as a writer i want to have something to say to the reader, not simply regurgitate familiar phrases and scenarios.

      i also, in case it wasn’t clear, reject his premise that this is what readers want.

      but perhaps there are readers out there who prefer to read cliche ridden tropes – and if so, there is no shortage of books or movies or TV shows to accommodate them.

      thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      cheers

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess I was thinking of tropes being used to figuratively drive a story, which (as a reader) I admire when its done well – they aren’t always overdone. However, I do think that the craft and skill of writing matters – it takes a skilled writer to be able to use a trope or device in a way that is beneficial to their writing (and their reader).
        Thoughtful post – thank you!

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      2. Yeah, I see what you mean. One might also call what you are referring to as ‘obligatory scenes and conventions’ – meaning absolutely there are elements in any story, especially genre fiction that must be there or the story doesn’t work.

        I agree, it does take skill to navigate a story successfully and make those obligatories and conventions feel fresh and right.

        Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

        Annie

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes the writing does matter in so many ways. The reader also matters too. If one does not write a quality book than why would the reader time the time and read it. Reading is all about the experience and how it makes the reader feel.

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    1. Well, that makes two of us that feel that way, Kirk.

      I do believe that readers do want an experience. Sure, familiarity matters – if you write something so far out there that no one can relate then that doesn’t work either – even so, the writing does matter. Just having the tropes is not enough.

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  3. I see this theory promulgated also: “write to the market”, discover the under-served categories and the tropes in those categories, then write real fast so you hit the category before it shifts. Lots of people seem to be following that path and claim to be making money at it.
    Marketability is a puzzle and not one I can claim to have solved. I was once at a writer’s conference with a bunch of science fiction writers, one of whom had become very successful. He felt hurt that a lot of his artistic colleagues had accused him of “selling out,” whereas he thought he had finally managed to find an audience while still writing his own authentic vision. That concept stayed with me, that there exists a sweet spot on the spectrum of artistic – commercial, and that’s what I hope to find.

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    1. Me too, Jack. All too much.

      There are actual ‘programs’ out there that promote that anybody can be a writer and a best seller and apparently a lot of people take them to heart. Unfortunately, it means that a lot of bad stuff ends up on the market.

      I have nothing on a writer, writing to trend or writing commercial fiction. I write genre fiction (mysteries) and love to read it as well. But I want to read a well written story – I want to know when I’m reading that story that the writer took care in writing the story and that it has a point.

      I think you absolutely can write commercially successful fiction without being a sell out – absolutely.

      Book marketing is difficult and time consuming and it is not one size fits all. And I think perhaps more than anything, that is what annoyed me about this post that I referred to. he was making a blanket statement – a generality. Akin to ‘anybody can write and be successful’ but it was based on empiric data. His own personal experience. When he started to do A then things changed for him. However, how could he know that? Maybe he’d actually just finally mastered his structure or plotting – or found a niche that he liked and was good at. There are so many factors that go into a successful book that I’m not sure anyone can pinpoint exactly why. Really if you read between the lines, you could infer that after 10 years of trying, he finally succeeded. And it was the culmination of all that trying and trying again that brought him the experience to pull things together.

      Anyway…yes, the writing does matter and it always should.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      Annie

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I say to people you can pour word after word after word on to the page and calling yourself a writer would be a true statement. I also tell them, that don’t make you a good one.

    The writing matters because we pro(se)!

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    1. Yes, practice makes perfect as they say.

      Although I think that any creative medium requires constant honing of your skills. You should always be learning your craft. Besides, that’s a large part of the fun of it. To me, anyway.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Cheers,
      Annie

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The indie insider who said writing doesn’t matter goes onto say that all you have to do is give readers what they want, which implies that writing does matter. Even if writing is formulaic and pandering, it still requires effort, and if people want to read it then it matters to some people.

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    1. Yes, you’re right. He was saying it didn’t matter but then everything he said kind of inferred that it does matter.

      Though, the gist of what he was saying is that people are just as happy reading work that was just dashed out (as long as it had the right tropes) and that writers didn’t have to spend (waste?) all this time making sure things were good word by word, sentence by sentence. Now, while I agree that some writers can get stuck trying to make things perfect and that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax – he seemed to be saying that writers didn’t really have to show much care in their writing. That was what I took away anyway.

      Sadly, he’s no longer an opinion leader for me.

      Too bad really.

      Cheers,
      Annie

      Liked by 1 person

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