S1, E3: Not a Real Writer? Bull!


In this episode, I get into a bit of a rant about how some writers, critics, and readers dismiss certain writers as being “not real writers”, such as those who write romance, erotic, comics, fan fiction, and novelizations, and why that phrase irks me so much.

  • Intro
    • My first interview, available at IronSoap.com the blog of fellow writer Paul Hamilton as part of his new “Aspiring Voices” series so go check it out. While you’re there check out some of Paul’s writing such as one of his most recent posts, The New Dark Bookkeeper.
  • Main Topic: The Phenomenon of Being “Not a Real Writer”
    • All kinds of writers
    • In writing forums, often see some writers labeled at “not a real writer”, scum, etc because of what they write
    • Most targeted:
      • Romance/erotica writers
        • Both writers and readers are often peppered with questions on “why are you wasting your time/talent” on that?
        • Preconception that all romance readers are “dumb” or incapable of “discernment” (similar things said of women when they were fighting for the right to vote, FYI)
        • Writers of romance often must deal with being told they “have it easy” as they just right “trashy and formulaic” books and that they aren’t “real”; not uncommon for someone to say “maybe I’ll write one, shouldn’t take more than a day or two” or the like
        • Particularly silly since romance novels sales hold FIFTY PERCENT of the paperback market share and is the most popular literary genre, bar none!
        • Best selling romance novelist with 50+ bestsellers has been asked when she will write a “real book”!
      • Comics (strips, books, etc)
        • Don’t write “real stories” because they use illustrations
        • No depth, no character building, etc
        • Called “entertainment for children and illiterates” and “lowbrow” (i.e. only good for popular masses)
        • And WTF is wrong with popular masses? That’s you and me, i.e. the regular, average person! Also included in the “lowbrow” or low culture ring: popular music, most television shows, etc.
        • Seems to be more a US thing
      • Fan fiction writers
        • Putting aside legal issues
        • They “not creative” and lack “real imagination” since they “have to use” other people’s stuff and it requires “no skill” and is just an excuse to write porn
        • Called “creepy”, “thieves”, “evil”, “immoral”, “dirty”, “wrong”, “lazy”, etc
        • Again, seems to be a bigger thing with US writers than some other countries where it’s encouraged.
        • Again, legal asides, how are they not “real writers” – they wrote them!! Personally, I think fanfiction writing is as hard as, if not harder than, writing original fiction: devoted fans will rip works to shreds if they stray too far from the characters – so you have to balance capturing the original essence of the characters and world while also coming up with new characters and unique plots that fit with them.
        • And why is it “okay” when “real authors” do it? Quite a few noted works are nothing more than “fan fiction” of existing stories. One big name author who published his fanfiction piece flat out said it’s fine when he does it just not “us”? Hypocrisy much?
        • And really, how is it that different from writing a story based on a historical figure? Or a “retelling” of a fairy tale? Are we “not writers” because we set in the real world versus making up our own?
        • We all “borrow”, vampires aren’t new, werewolves aren’t new
      • Novelization writers
        • I thought fanfic writers were the most hated until I started exploring the possibility of doing some novelizations. Wow. One article mentioned them being considered be “written by hacks for morons”?
        • Different kinds – straight up “what was there”, expanded/modified (usually either from different script or given more materials to work with), additional story (i.e. like extra episodes of series/movies – legitimate fan fiction)
        • Hard work, especially commissioned for films as they often do not get the whole script or the final script, or studios want to avoid “spoilers” so they don’t’ let them see scenes only give them short summaries
        • Oddly, you see less of the vitriol going the other way – complaining about movies/TV series based on books!

Progress Report: Finished chapter 8 and half way through 9

Goal: Be up to chapter 10 by August 21st

Random Recommendation: The Awakening hidden object adventure game series from Boomzap Games, available on Big Fish Games (http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/search.html?search=Awakening)