THE Group for Authors! discussion

66 views
The Craft > Artistic Independence and Rebellion are Not the Same Thing

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Whenever a book is rated poorly for containing numerous technical writing errors, the author sometimes proclaims that the reader should focus more upon the story itself rather than grammar, spelling, punctuation or syntax. Some claim to have discovered just as many errors in works by best-selling, traditionally published authors. Still others describe their writing style as a rebellious expression against traditional concepts and rules pertaining to writing. They boast of refusing to compromise their artistic independence for the sake of conformity or to achieve commercial success.

The Merriam-Webster English Dictionary provides the following definitions:
Independence - The quality or state of being independent: Freedom.
Rebellion - Resistance to authority: Defiance.

Freedom of expression is essential to quality writing. Independent thought is invaluable when making a decision or choice. However, bad decisions and wrong choices produce negative results. If unprepared or unwilling to accept them, one must challenge or at least question one's rebellious philosophy and attitude.

Established standards and rules for writing and language are not the result of a whim. They have been developed, tested and improved upon over time. The most successful writers have adopted and utilized them to consistently produce quality books. Every author should strive to be unique and independent; however, these traits must be tempered by discipline, intelligence and common sense.

History teaches us that independence, wisely executed, is an admirable and rewarding trait. History also teaches us that irresponsible and immature behavior in the guise of rebellion results in failure much more often than success.


message 2: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 132 comments The same could be said of the Impressionist and subsequent schools of modern art, producing works that would have left Da Vinci, Monet or Rembrant puzzled.

Similarly, many branches of modern music such as Death Metal bear little relationship to the rules and styles of classical music.

Yet such wild variations have come to be accepted and even acclaimed by their adherents. So is it possible to say that any experimental style of writing is simply wrong if the author feels strongly enough about it? Of course many, if not most, will crash and burn, but who are we to tell them not to try?

I would add that I prefer hyper-realism in painting and songs that can be sung without the aid of a bank of electronic devices, and my writing is best described as old school. I even employ the out of fashion Third Party Omniscient POV. :)


message 3: by Christa (new)

Christa (christaw) V.W. wrote: "The same could be said of the Impressionist and subsequent schools of modern art, producing works that would have left Da Vinci, Monet or Rembrant puzzled.

Similarly, many branches of modern music..."


Sure, but most of the people Jim is referring to aren't really experimentalists. They just don't want to put in the work, and are making excuses when they get called out on it. They're ignoring rules or just not bothering to learn them, not selectively breaking them for artistic purposes.

We need a new meme: "2Edgy2Edit".


message 4: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments Jim wrote: "Whenever a book is rated poorly for containing numerous technical writing errors, the author sometimes proclaims that the reader should focus more upon the story itself rather than grammar, spellin..."

Amen to this! If I can't comprehend what the [rebellious/independent] author is writing, because of his/her [rebellious/independent] shunning of standard writing and grammar, I won't receive his/her message. I believe, of course, that those who refuse to follow traditional English usage are only vying for attention only, and not really interested in telling a story.

It's one thing if a character in a story has a heavy accent which can be difficult to convey intelligibly, but which is one of the significant characteristics of the character - then there is room for some difficult-to-read writing. (Usually, such a character is minor - with a major character, the author must season the character's dialogue just enough to give the flavor of the accent, not over-salt it.) It's another thing when the whole narrative is rife with carelessness.


message 5: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 210 comments People will write what they want - sometimes within the rules, sometimes ignoring the rules and sometimes advancing the rules. If someone wants to read it, they will read it.

If enough people embrace a change in language, then the language will evolve. If too few people read something then it will dwindle and die. That's the way it has always been and how it always will be.

And no amount of lecturing or pontificating from any of us will change that.


message 6: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments Quite true. There's no law out there that requires any of us to read any work. We always have the freedom to dismiss and/or discard a book that we don't want to read. The only frustrating thing is when we have spent good money for such a book, only to find that it is just plain awful, for whatever reasons. But: nothing ventured, nothing gained. We usually find ourselves happy with our purchases, and often learning from them, improving ourselves as a result.


message 7: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments I once offered a short story to a daily (after reading several "non-standard" formatted stories), only to have it regected, in part because I "wasn't following their submission (format) guidelines." The story was meant to read like a comments/discussion group. Just look at this page: There's a small space between the author and the comment, and a larger space between the comment and the next author. The only way to relate that in "txt" is to make the little space a double space and the big space a triple space. Now, if you apply "standard manuscript format," then single-space is double-space, double-space is quadruple-space, and triple-space is sextuple-space. Who would want to read that? (I know I'd reject it out of hand if something came in with that much white space in it). So I used standard POETRY rules, which say you don't have to double-space within a verse (in my case, comment). When the _____ called me for "not following SMF" I was literally ready to tear my hair out (May actually have taken a few strands). Even now, roughly a year later, I STILL get steamed thinking about it.


message 8: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments Wendy, that reminds me of a creative writing class I took freshman year in college. I didn't like the instructor for a lot of reasons, one of which was inconsistent requirements or instructions. When I worked very hard on a story which earned me a "D," his follow-up comments being entirely contradictory to what he had told the class to do, I threw my hands up, dragged a story out of mothballs that I had written in eighth grade and did not consider very well done (and indeed, it wasn't), submitted that without a single edit the next week, and got an "A." He's a famous poet today, but I still have no interest in including him or his work in my life. Them's the breaks. My advice: write out your frustrations with that incident and then throw the paper away or burn it up. It will make you feel a whole lot better! ;-)


message 9: by Wendy (last edited Jun 09, 2016 11:32AM) (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments Sally wrote: "Wendy, that reminds me of a creative writing class I took freshman year in college. I didn't like the instructor for a lot of reasons, one of which was inconsistent requirements or instructions. Wh..."
I still have the half-finished email sitting in my "drafts" folder.
It's dated April 25, 2015

It's not so much inconsistencies in requirement, so much as it is that new formats have evolved to express oneself in, and many publications aren't bothering to review their guidelines in the light of modern digital communication--or the new formats it's spawned. Double spacing was necessary to create editing space on type-written hard copy, but serves little purpose in an electronically created and delivered text file. Except in cases like mine, where double spacing actually impairs the reader's ability to understand what's being said.


message 10: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments How professional is this firm? (That's intended to be a rhetorical question.) If they are that wrapped up in format (or their lack of ability or interest to make it usable), are they likely to pay any attention to content? I'd probably send my work off to someone else - which you may have already done. Good luck!


message 11: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments Sally wrote: "How professional is this firm? (That's intended to be a rhetorical question.) If they are that wrapped up in format (or their lack of ability or interest to make it usable), are they likely to pay ..."

Clarkesworld Magazine. Said:
"In the future, we'd appreciate it if you formatted the story in standard manuscript format (SMF). We haven't been strictly enforcing this portion of our guidelines, but will be in the near future."


message 12: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments Sally wrote: "How professional is this firm? (That's intended to be a rhetorical question.) If they are that wrapped up in format (or their lack of ability or interest to make it usable), are they likely to pay ..."

Clarkesworld Magazine. Said:
"In the future, we'd appreciate it if you formatted the story in standard manuscript format (SMF). We haven't been strictly enforcing this portion of our guidelines, but will be in the near future."


back to top