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“Young writer…”

Petrol Queen
On May 1st I put up a post riffing off Elizabeth Bear’s essay at Clarkeworld about how downbeat spec. fiction has become. In the comments, Elizabeth Moon pretty much hit the nail on the head, which was what I’d been thinking. Allow me to put it another way, with this simple tale called “Young Writer…”

Young writer runs off to university to learn their craft.

Young writer is somewhat embarrassed by their bailiwick (SF/F), because the university literati looks down their noses at such fare because entertainment is a vile, base thing.

To combat this, young writer incorporates all the literary theory crammed into their brain as an undergraduate into their fiction.

Finding a headful of literary theory not enough, young writer realizes it’s the approach and tone of their fiction that needs to be altered.

Young writer turns to dark themes with a proliferation of symbols such a black birds (ravens, crows) to alert the reader that serious themes such as Death will be addressed because young writer wants, oh so desperately wants, to be taken seriously.

Young writer forgets that fiction is foremost about interesting people and how they deal with the horrible things that happen to them (plot and character).

In a desperate attempt to prove that their bailiwick can rise to “art,” young writer forgets that it’s important to have something noteworthy to say.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
mylefteye
Jun. 7th, 2012 07:03 am (UTC)
This.

But it's also down to what the pro-paying markets are taking. As a humble amateur, I'd read the 'best' mags and anthos and find them crammed with the sort of the heavy-handed crap you referenced in your post. I guess even editors/anthologists are desperate to be taken seriously too.
marshallpayne1
Jun. 7th, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
I think you're right on some of the pro-paying markets. Asimov's and F&SF seem to be the exception to this. They don't seem to be nearly as pessimistic.

Back in 2006 I reviewed Fantasy Magazine #5 on Tangent and complained about the heavy-handedness, among other things. One of the co-editors (then) took it upon himself to make a big blog post (a dumb thing to do, responding to a review!) basically calling me a idiot. While my editor and he and his pals fought it out for a couple of days, I just laughed. I'm glad now this issue is being address by others.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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