An odd question about prolific writers

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  • #199401
    zette
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    How do you feel about prolific writers? Do you have an automatic reaction if you learn that someone writes a great deal more than you, including outside of NaNo? What is your first thought about how they write?

    I’m trying to decide if the sometimes odd reactions people have about NaNo carries through outside of November. I have begun to suspect that a number of people simply do not trust writers who write often and a lot.

    #234362
    MarFisk
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    Absolutely. Prolific authors are a plague upon this Earth ;).

    Seriously, all you have to do is look up the word “hack” to discover that the anti-prolific sentiment has existed practically as long as the written word. If I recall correctly, Charles Dickens was painted with that particular brush.

    Me, I think it comes from two sides:

    1) Pure and simple jealousy. It’s hard not to feel a twinge of this when others accomplish what I cannot and many turn the feeling into scorn rather than owning it.
    2) Transfer. If I, as a non-prolific writer, would produce absolute garbage writing at that speed, therefore everyone who writes at that speed must then be producing absolute garbage.

    So, the simple answer is that the bias persists outside of NaNo for sure. And it’s a matter of scale. I’ve been accused of being a prolific writer at times, to which I laugh and point to people such as yourself who are much more prolific. But while I wish I had the ability, focus, energy necessary to produce at that level, I don’t fault those who can.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #234363
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    I feel no jealousy over someone who’s more prolific than me; I actually admire writers who write a lot. I wish I could too, but I’m not going to hate myself because I’m not. I have plenty of ideas to keep me entertained for years to come, and that’s actually enough prolific-ness for me to handle at this stage.

    And if a writer I read is prolific, I’m only excited: more books for me to drown myself in!

    I agree with Mar, though, on the jealousy and transfer aspects of others’ dislike (and even hatred) of prolific writers. When phrases like “word vomit” in description of the results of Nano come up in chat here, it’s hard to avoid. I just cheer the FMers who write a lot on–well, I cheer all the FMers on, but my view of the prolific ones is no different than any other FMer. We’re all writers, we all have our own method of writing. It’s pointless to get uptight about what one or another person is doing or not doing.

    And I’ll say this: Every single time I see a blanket statement of all writers needing to rewrite their books to make them the best they can be, I at first feel like I’m doing wrong, then I remember how I developed the skill to write pretty much the book I intend in one draft in the first place. It was a matter of chance and my circumstances early in my writing career, but it also gave me this fantastic ability to write a very solid first draft, and I refuse to accept that I’m doing something wrong by doing so and owning it. That, again, is jealousy and/or transference on the part of onlookers.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "There's someone in my head, but it's not me." ~ from the song Brain Damage by Pink Floyd
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #234364
    AishaShadow
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    If I like an author I don’t care whether they are prolific or not.

    I agree with the others that if you’re not prolific you tend to wonder what shortcuts the prolific writer takes. One author that comes to mind is Enid Blyton, who they say never rewrote her first draft and it shows in the writing, though as a child it didn’t bother me at all.

    For me it takes ages for the story to form in my head, years even. I seem to start writing a novel with the scenes in random order and then I get to a point where I feel I need to document it to pull it all together and to keep track of where I am. But then I am a stage now where I have lots of stories that if I decided to sit down and write the drafts I could probably call myself a prolific writer, at least for a year or two anyway and then I would have to go back to forming the next batch of stories.

    #234391
    zette
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    I’m mostly talking about first draft stuff here; editing to me is an entirely different situation and can be a problem with both fast and slow writers. In traditionally published work, I don’t think there is a good excuse for a lot of problems. That’s why people turn to published work, believing it has had all the care it needs to be good.

    Mar’s point about transference really surprised me because I had never considered such a possibility. It’s really kind of amazing.

    #234423
    MarFisk
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    Eh, I overanalyze pretty much everything so if there’s an angle to figure out, I’ll find it ;).

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #234365
    bonnie824
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    I think for genre writers, who have either a set world and characters, or a basically set plot, and have less to change, they can write very enjoyable books pretty quickly.

    I expect stand alone books to take longer and be better thought out, and therefor don’t trust them when they are pumped out really fast. So, chances are, I would wait and borrow them rather than buy them.

    #234450
    ErinMH
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    So you assume that someone cannot think about projects ahead of time — possibly even multiple projects — so all of the work that goes into something being well thought out couldn’t possibly be done when you’re not aware of it?

    (Also, your comment that standalone work should be “better thought out” is very dismissive of the work of people who write series.)

    #234451
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    None of my works are spur-of-the-moment writings, even those which seem to write themselves. I put a lot of thought, research, and attention into my worlds. I tell my subconscious what kinds of stories and MCs I want to write and let that part of my brain work things out.

    It’s insulting to assume just because a writer wrote something, whether it be one or more books in a series or a standalone, quickly or without apparent effort that it isn’t well-thought-out. The subconscious mind (or Muse, if you wish) does a lot of work for a writer, whether that writer does a lot of prework or not. There is no One True Way of writing, and to imply that someone who doesn’t appear to put in the kind of work on their writing other writers put into it inherently writes a “bad” book discounts all the time and effort those writers put into their work in other ways.

    I have come across plenty of Trad Pubbed well-thought-out standalones, probably as many as I have well-thought-out series. I have also come across plenty of series which I couldn’t bear to finish reading, no matter how much I wanted to find out how things ended, because they simply weren’t well-thought-out and had massive plot holes (and if I notice things like plot holes, it’s a pretty badly-thought-out book). And I imagine the writers of these various books ranged from those who wrote out detailed set-in-stone outlines to pantsers who write out of order. Time spent on and method of developing a book are not accurate ways to judge the quality of a work.

    The fallacy of “more time spent on books equals better books” is the result of writers having had to deal with the Trad Pub world for so bloody long. In the Trad Pub world, a writer is forced to be slow, no matter how quickly they actually produce books, because most Trad Pub companies are terrified that readers won’t buy all the series books of even their most popular authors if they’re produced all at once or within the same year. So, Writer contracts for three books, each to be released in consecutive years, and writes all three in one year–because they can. Because their Trad Pub company thinks readers will be for some reason opposed to plopping money down on all three books at once, they artificially bottleneck the books’ publishing dates, which I’m sure pretty frequently leaves the wrong impression that all these writers spent years developing their series worlds.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "There's someone in my head, but it's not me." ~ from the song Brain Damage by Pink Floyd
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #234452
    zette
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    I have a huge science fiction universe with a lot of stories in it. Each time I start a new one, I have to decide on things like timeline placement, new world or one I’ve already used (and if the second and at a timeline point that is before or after other stories, what does that mean to the setting), etc. Having the background actually means more work rather than less for me, though that’s not true for every story or for every person who has a set universe. Knowing most of the background work isn’t even going to be obvious in the novel is often amusing, but you can’t skip on it.

    Looking at a subset within the larger setting made me think about what you said, though. The Devlin books have a set of the same characters, it’s in a relatively short time span, and the basic story is Devlin and her team get sent in to take care of a problem. Beyond that, though, is a lot of work on the new world they visit, the problem (which is never the same from book to book), the changes in the relationships between the characters . . . You know, it would be easier if there were more things I could grab from one book to the next. At the moment, it seems to be limited to modes of transportation and whom they work for — and the last is a bit flexible. LOL

    #234366
    cupiscent
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    Hmm. A common criticism I have of many (trad) published books – and even of Hollywood movies – is “this needed more editing / another draft / to be more deeply connected with itself”, I suppose maybe I am a little distrustful of quick producers. On the other hand, I have always been a quick worker – someone who finishes exams in half the time allotted – so I am very at home with the idea of quality being produced quickly and first-try. On the other hand, my to-read list is over a year long, so I never mind an author taking his or her time between books!

    #234479
    MarFisk
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    Any good series has this issue. Where the time between novels is easy is where the series falls into the same formula and especially if you read them in a lump, it becomes much too obvious.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #234483
    MarFisk
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    This has proved a problem since I became an indie because I have that traditional mindset that a year between is reasonable. Instead, I have folks who will only pick up a book if it’s a series and often won’t even try it because I don’t have the second book out yet. Since this killed a lot of good series in the traditional world, you’d think I would have learned, but…

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #234488
    zette
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    I think next year is going to be a ‘finish off some series’ year for me. I am not going to be putting out as many books. I’ve already dropped back — but the truth is that I had a lot of books almost ready so I was able to work through a lot of them very quickly. That’s pretty much not the case now.

    #234367
    Gilroy
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    For me, a lot of it depends on the writer themselves.

    I’ll name one professional writer, who puts out multiple volumes a year, that I don’t care for. Kevin J Anderson. My dislike isn’t related to how much he writes. I dislike his formulaic releases and flat or otherwise unfollowable prose. (Obviously, I differ on this point with many people since I know others who adore his work.)

    But then, I have a similar issue with writers who put out one book a year. My dislike isn’t regarding the output. It’s the style of the output.

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