The Fiction Wars

Monday, October 13, 2008
It doesn't seem to matter what you write sometimes, someone will always look down their nose on your work. After listening to many writers talk, I've discovered there is a hierarchy of arguments over which is consider quality writing. So, today, I think I'll explore these arguments and discussions to simplify what each school of thought believes.

Literary vs. Mass Market
To begin, we have our academic scholars dueling with the sensation writers. There is actually fiction in the world that considers itself so above par, it cannot possibly be classified into something as lowly as a genre. This fiction is called literary. When I was in college, I was taught genre stories were not as fulfilling or meaningful as true literary classics. Though, to be honest, the definition of a literary work is simply to make a point about the human condition and to have the protagonist change or realize something new about him or herself.

Genre A vs. Genre B
Since the literary world sees all genres beneath them, they don't really pick on one category more than another. But once you step into the genre community, the differences begin to stand out. Science fiction and Mystery, for example, like to point at romance fiction--and at Harlequin/Silhouette stories more significantly--calling it fluff and saying it's only formula writing. There's no real substance in romance, they claim.

E-Press vs. Print Press
Romance writers, however, don't think Harlequin/Silhouettes stories lack such substance. In fact, if you sell to Harlequin, you're pretty well respected in romance writing circles. With romance authors, the big debate is between how you're published... by an e-press or print press. Mostly, people consider e-press publishers somewhat lower than print-press publishers.

So, those are the three main debates I've noticed in my writing endeavors... and guess what, I've actually been aspiring to make it to the lowest on that totem pole of importance.

Now, ask me if I care.

No, not really. I know each of my stories have a theme and makes a point about the human condition. I know my hero and heroine learn something about themselves and sometimes change by the end of my books. And I always have that satisfying romance ending, where my two mains get together. Other than that, I just want to tell a story and bring my characters to life on each and every page. If that makes other writers look down at me, oh well... I know what readers like because I know what I would rather sit down and read myself and also... I see what sells the most on the bookstore shelves. And that right there is what's important to me. The reader.

Stephen King illustrated it best in his self help writing book, On Writing. After getting in trouble when he was young for--what do you know--writing, one of his teachers lectured him for his choice of subject, telling him had so much potential and he was just throwing it away on writing garbage. He went on to say, that for years after that, he was actually ashamed of what he wrote and the stories he told. Now, I don't consider King an unsuccessful author. He is one of the most talented storytellers of our time, and I must further comment, I'm glad he didn't let anyone get him down. I'm glad he was able to share all the stories inside him because some of his stories have been made into my favorite movies.

Now, here's my challenge for you today. Don't let anyone belittling your dreams get you down, be those dreams writing or teaching or politics or sky diving. Be proud of what you want to do with your life and don't be afraid to reach for your goals. You never know what you might find in your grasp. And whatever you do, you can always find a group of like-minded individuals who share the same passions. Surrounding yourself by them will help you realize you have purpose and importance.

And I think I'm off my soap box for now. Have a great day.

No comments:

Post a Comment