"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
Too often over the past couple of years, I have seen an increase in newbies complaining when someone points out the flaws in their work, especially (but not limited to) grammar, spelling, and poor or stereotyped characterization.
The typical outcry has been “It’s the story that counts,” or “I’m a story-teller, my sentences don’t have to be perfect.” There are a thousand variations on that.
It starts out as defensiveness and escalates into rage.
Bad writers are a dime a dozen. And these days a dime is worth less than what a penny was ten years ago. Frequently these people either self-publish or they sell to little 4thluv ezines that have no quality control and low standards.
Some of them, especially the loudest voices of the Legionaries, take it another step forward and employ tactics of lies, false allegations, and attacks on established pros. They claim that their work is revolutionary. They claim that a conspiracy is holding them back. They claim that industry elitism is holding them back, and they claim to be the voice of the masses.
They also seem to think that playing a game of up-roar is going to get them the PR to make their writing popular. They look at all the views they get when they are hassling someone with far better credentials and say, “See, by complaining about our tactics, you’re making us famous and more successful.”
When the phrase, “There is no such thing as bad publicity” originated, it was referring to people who had skills and talent. Not people who fail to have the skills to write their way out of a used condom.
In the end, the work speaks for itself.
Even if they got a million views a day from the pros and their fans, whom they have outraged with their antics, it will not translate into sales. The rule of thumb will always be sales. Sales are the voice of the masses stating their approval of the works the writers have produced.
The quality of the work always speaks for itself.
And bad work will not sell.
Some of them will point to the antics of Harlan Ellison and imply that his antics made him famous.
What they fail to understand is that long before Harlan acquired his bad boy image, he had established his talent, learned his craft, and proved his brilliance.
The work always speaks for itself.
If a writer has to explain what makes their work so brilliant, then the work has already failed.
Outrageous antics will not sell failed fiction. It might get you a million views, but if the material viewed is poor, then those views will not result in sales.
The bottom line is ‘don’t make excuses,’ learn your craft and do your work.
There are some fine books on writing techniques out there; but they only help if you’re willing to learn. It is not that difficult to whip out the Strunk and White to double check things.
Here’s my recommendations for each member of the Legion:
Dagstine: Orson Scott Card’s Characters & Viewpoint; Marc McCutcheon’s Building Believable Characters.
Kristy Tallman: Eats Shoots and leaves; Strunk and White; Rebecca McClanahan’s Word Painting.
Mike Philbin: The same books I suggested for Dagstine, but also, Napoleon Hill’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Nickolaus Pacione: All of the above.