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.
I think so.
What do you think?
One of my favorite quotes from the fascinating and brilliant Eudora Welty.
I’ve been away much longer than I realized, in my quest to finish the third book in a new trilogy among other highly distracting activities. And I wanted to reassure my three undying fans I still live and breathe. Also have been catching up on my reading and have some nice reads for you.
The Shocking Truth About Info Dumps by Lisa Cron discusses how to do backstory right. And folks, she is spot on.
Scene Structure: Scenes as Segments and Capsules of Time by CS Lakin Good nuts and bolts on scene structure, especially good statements on time in writing.
Beware the Writing Rules Police by Anne R. Allen. Anne takes the writing rules police to task and kicks their butts.
Burnout, creativity, and the tyranny of production schedules by Elizabeth Bear. Hardworking author Elizabeth Bear makes a good case for taking pressure and time off from writing. I totally get what she is talking about here.
Really Going There by Annie Neugebauer makes a good case for the argument that our best stories come from the places we are terrified to write about.
Have a good week everybody – step away from the political arguments on FB – real life is much better for your blood pressure. 🙂