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June 6th, 2012

“Young writer…”

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.


Marshall Payne
Marshall Payne

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