There seems to be a common disease that is becoming more and more prevalent. It’s been floating around in the movie industry for years now, but it seems to be spreading rather rapidly to the authors of this world. Before it can get any further, I’d like to offer a few tips to help prevent a little disease I call, the Writer’s Epidemic. To help you read through, I’ll provide important bullet points to go over so you can pick and choose what you want to look through.
I know, I know, no one wants to die in obscurity. But at the price of our writing quality, is it really worth it?
Prepare to be cured…or something.
- Don’t Milk It Till It’s Dry: If you’ve ever been a huge fan of a book, book series, or book trilogy, you’ll know that all you ever want is another story. That is, until the next book comes out and it totally ruined EVERYTHING about the book(s) you loved. For example, I was really into The Mother-Daughter Book Club series a while back. The series ended on a really good note with the concluding book, Dear Pen Pal. I was rather pleased with how everything was wrapped up so tidily. That is, until the author decided she wasn’t satisfied with the ending and added another book: Mother-Daughter Book Camp. The book completely broke everything that had been resolved in the last chapter of the series and now made a further extension of the series desirable. And this isn’t the only series that has been guilty of this sin. Many a book series has concluded satisfyingly, only to have an author continue with the hopes that the popularity of the rest of the series would carry over into the next addition. Bad form, authors.
- It Belongs to the Readers: Publishing a book is kind of like letting an animal free. Once it’s out there it’s out there – and that’s not a thing to be taken lightly. People who read these books will love these books and in a way there is a working relationship between the readers and the author. The author respects the characters he/she laid down and the reader’s respect the decisions the author made. Meaning, the author doesn’t change their characters wildly after the fact and the readers don’t hate the author for following through on their plan. One thing the author has to keep in mind is that a good writer will be able to construct a full character, one that the readers will get to know well. An author who loves those characters as much as the readers will know not to go against the personalities established from the get-go.
- Don’t Pander: One of the biggest issues I’ve seen in modern storytelling is a desire to be “politically correct.” Authors are afraid of insulting minority groups and therefore make an effort to include them – even in situations where it is not necessary nor logical. Don’t get me wrong; diversity can be a wonderful thing. But diversity is a moral neutral and is neither good nor bad. When it is used in the wrong places, it can be inappropriate to the situation and illogical. An even worse practice is when an author attempts to pander after the fact. One of the authors most guilty of this crime is J.K. Rowling, who every so often will post a politically controversial tweet about one of her characters (and therefore insures everybody remembers who she is). One of the best rules of writing is that once you lay down a rule, you follow it, no matter what your political agenda is.
- Let It Go: As much as we may love our favorite trilogies, there comes a time in every reader/writer’s life when they must say goodbye to the characters they’ve come to love, the world they’ve come to inhabit, and the bad habit of ignoring everyone while you’re absorbed in the latest chapter. Like everything listed above, this is an important rule. Somethings are better left where they’re at. A good writer knows there’s always more to write about and always new things to create. Creativity is a companion that should never forsake you so long as you love what you write and you write with the intent of creating something that you will love reading.
Though there are some other flaws and issues that could be taken up with many a writer’s handicraft, these are some of the most serious parts of the Writer’s Epidemic. These are problems that can and should be easily resolved – so long as we continue to work together as a creative community to nip these issues in the bud.
Write on, writers.