Monday, November 9, 2015

Writer's Prejudice

I think it is fair to say that prejudice is a bad thing. Even if you haven’t seen/read/listened to Pride and Prejudice in some variety you can imagine that assuming mean things about people before you get to know them can have negative outcomes.

But I am a prejudiced writer. I have prejudices against other writers. A specific kind of writer, actually. FICTIONAL WRITERS. More often than not I hate fictional writers so. freaking. much.

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To be fair, my prejudice is not just in principle. All the fictional writers I hate belong to books I have read. And I don’t completely hate all fictional writers, and there are some, I think, that are really good.

Mostly I hate them though. And in some ways I don’t think it’s fair that I hate them, but I still end up feeling like they’re unrealistic and terrible.

First, to some extent it almost always feels like self-insertion. 

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I especially felt this way with The Princess Diaries, and I get it… if we’re writers writing about writers we’re going to bring a little bit of ourselves into the story, as well as our own experience. Still, there’s also a point where it feels just a little too disjointed with the character to really feel like it meshed with the story well.

Mia didn’t really feel like a writer to me. I mean, yeah, she wrote in a journal, but it was a very spontaneous transition. And then it didn’t come up again in Royal Wedding. When a writer is only a writer for convenience or to make a statement, then I let my gavel fall.

Second, it can be really hard to relate to. 

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This isn’t always the case. Right now I’m listening to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Ari is a kind of writer (I assume that’s where we’re going and this is his story he wrote down, maybe) and he reminds me a lot of me when I was sixteen. He doesn’t really know what he wants to do with himself so sometimes he writes and feels stupid and really loves his family but also hates them. I get that. But even if I didn’t get it, it shouldn’t undermine the validity of Ari’s experience in contrast to mine.

via Goodreads
However, there are times when it is just a little too wrongly perfect to be enjoyable. I think of The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet on this one; I read it when I was in England and I was actually at a writer’s poetry conference and so it was cute and fluffy but also Ellie is the kind of character you would hope gets thrown through a wall for her own good and has the most perfect publishing experience of all. Especially because she is a teenager because when I think of the books I have read as written by teenagers lately… Let’s just say that S.E. Hinton has her side of the Venn diagram and everyone else does not get to be in that circle.

Anyway, it’s hard to relate to Ellie because her problems are just a little too perfect and her success is built almost entirely off of getting a book deal against all odds. It’s just a little corny.

And on that note, third and last, the writer character is kind of cliche.


Like, here is the TV Tropes page on it, but to sum it up, writers are the driving force behind movies and books and stuff and so then they write about themselves and it’s the most boring thing ever after a while because everybody does it.

Glancing over TV Tropes and off the top of my head, I think of She’s Having a Baby, Superman, The Princess Diaries, The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, Life of Pi, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Murder, She Wrote, Castle, RENT, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, Finding Forrester, Myth-o-Mania, Sherlock, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Muppets, How to Murder Your Wife, Alvin and the Chipmunks… There are too many.

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It makes me want to be Brer Bear in Song of the South who yells, “I’M GONNA KNOCK YOUR HEAD CLEAN OFF.”

Because sure, you can write a good fictional writer, but first you have to prove me wrong. And those are my prejudices.

Do you like fictional writers? Why or why not?

10 comments :

  1. My favorite fictional writer is probably Cath in Fangirl; she writes fanfiction but finds writing original work very hard and almost gives up on it completely. That's something I can relate to so much more than a teen getting a book deal (not that it doesn't happen, but it's rare).

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    1. Mm, I've heard good things about Fangirl, but haven't read it myself. But I completely agree—I have way more fan fiction laying around than I do book deals! (lol, I wish)

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  2. Ugh, I'm with you. i know books can't be one hundred percent true to life, but the writers in books never seem real. They're either sickeningly perfect, or not like writers at all. I haven't read many books with them in them, thankfully, and maybe there are some good ones, but so far I haven't encountered them. It's strange, because you'd think that writers would be the best at portraying other writers, but no, we seem to feel the need to romanticize writing too far so that it's unrealistic. It's a pity too, because I think writers would make absolutely awesome characters if written right.

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    1. RIGHT? I feel like I bump into them either on accident or because I hope this writer will be the writer who is true to what I want to hear, but noooooo. Like you said, it's always romanticized. Blah. But you're right! I think writers would be totally fun characters—if only they weren't as cringe-worthy as we writers somehow make them. *sigh*

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  3. I do think that agree that writer characters are perhaps a bit too common and annoying. However, like many other cliches, they are familiar. But I really don't relate to writer characters who get an easy happy ending and a book deal (because it doesn't really happen). Although I must say that writer characters are easy.It's a purpose, it (often) explains why the book was written, because it was the character. It creates a great persona/voice. On another note, enjoy Aristotle and Dante because it. is. amazing. :)

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    1. Yeah, the book deal thing isn't really relatable for many of us. Beyond that, it makes it sound like getting a book deal is the key to success as a writer, which it totally isn't. But *shrugs* I guess we can't have it all. And yes! I loved Ari and Dante! <3

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  4. With fictional writers, I think it's either a hit or a miss. It can definitely be cliche, and these days I think the cliches are much more common, sadly, than the other kind. On the other hand, if done right fictional writers can be very relatable for a writer like myself.

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    1. I do think they can be relatable, I just haven't found a well-done writer recently to make it really enjoyable for me, you know? *sigh* I do think a lot more time is spent on the cliche, and that's why trying to find good characters who are writers is usually a futile effort. :P

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  5. Good points all. I've often felt that fictional writers tend to feel canned and stale and just not as interesting as they could be. And as someone who's written a few writer characters, I do know that it is super hard to avoid self-insertion. I haven't read The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet yet, although I do own it, but from what you said, it reminds me of The School Story on a lot of levels. I think stories like that with easy publications for young people were encouraging to me when I was a young writer, but I don't tend to get that much from them now because I know that publishing in the real world isn't anywhere near that easy.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Agreed. It's like... Maybe if writers weren't writers they'd have a better idea of how to write writers but they are writers and that makes them not very good at it. I never wanted to be a writer when I was little, but I'm glad that was inspiring to you! :D Now, they are just disappointment-making...

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