Why Would I Want To Write Like A Hack?
Over on Scribophile, someone pulled a quote out of Self Editing For Fiction Writers, Chapter Eleven, where the subject is Sophistication. In their quote, the OP managed to misrepresent the chapter. And, once blood was in the water, sharks circled before tearing each other to shreds.
Was the OP a conscious Troll? Who knows…they didn’t have much of an account. Yet, it’s possible it was an innocent question. Time will tell if they participate in the community and offer up other stuff.
The blood letting and chest beating went on quite a while before someone put the original quote in context. In context, the cited book pretty much agreed with the points all those commenters who had ripped the book over made, sometimes almost word for word. After that, the discussion quickly died out.
I confess to pulling out my copy of the book. The point Browne and King (book authors) made were that there are simple things uneducated writers such as myself can to avoid coming off like hack writers.
So, what’s a hack writer? According to Wikipedia, the first google definition to pop up. “Hack writer is a colloquial and usually pejorative term used to refer to a writer who is paid to write low-quality, rushed articles or books “to order”, often with a short deadline.”
Then someone jumped and said, “Hey, wait, won’t the hack writers read this book and do all these things to game the system? That just sounds so wrong to me.”
Because Browne and King broke the code on simple things to avoid sounding like a hack writer, someone is so afraid all the hacks are going to start doing those simple things that we shouldn’t do them because we will be gaming the system just like the hacks?
A feather could have knocked me over.
Just because someone else figured out a writing technique, approach, or trick, and taught it to me…I shouldn’t practice it?
Instead, I should make mistakes and look like a hack writer?
Is that what they really, really, really meant to say?
Should We Turn Our Backs on Learning?
When I decided to become a serious writer, what that meant was I wanted to understand the writing craft. So I read dozens of books, toiled through countless writing exercises, and agonized over applying those lessons to my writing. Along the way I’ve also figured out stuff on my own.
Is figuring it out better than learning it? I might take a bit more pride in the former than the latter. But, in the end, if I improve my understanding of the craft, and write more compelling stories, who is to say which is better? Not me.
I just want to write the best stories I can write.