Thursday, May 1, 2008

Get Serious

If you write serious fiction you must use accepted literary forms and elements or no one will like or take it seriously.

Serious fiction is not allowed to have genre elements. No spaceships, no zombies, and no detectives. No wizards, no vampires, and no castles. Any of these lets them dismiss it as genre. By this they mean write-by-number fill-in-the-blank rearrange standard shapes hack work.

Unfair? Life.

Thing is, genre never was as simplistic as they say, and literary fiction never was as free from jigsaw puzzlery as they claim.

Writing is as serious as the effect it has. You think "mere" escapism has no effect? Have you looked around lately?

So even basic entertainment suffices to count for something. Add a serious theme to a comic book and it becomes a graphic novel. Subtract expected elements from literary fiction and it becomes meaningless.

When will criticism mature into considering each work on its own merits? When will writing and effect balance with content and tone?

Think hard but keep the writing easy to read. That way everyone might find handle enough to take a point or two away with them.

You learn all this if you write serious fiction using genre elements. And you learn, too, how to ignore the morons and get on with it.

Rules are for anyone dumb enough to obey them. Write what you want the way you want. If you never publish, it's the world's loss.

The cure for style is to write for others' standards. The cure for that is to find your own standards.


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