Last post, I argued that some writers strive to impress the critics. Other writers write primarily to impress their peers. In practice, I see this most often in writers who join critique groups populated by other authors. I’ve been in a few myself.
All writers want to impress their chosen “audience,” and I use “impress” on purpose because it’s a strong word that calls attention to itself. Whatever audience we choose, we want the respect of that audience. We want them to say, “job well done.” For the critique group writer, the first audience is a group of other writers. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. Most writers are also readers themselves so they can offer informed feedback on two fronts. However, it’s clear in my experience that writers typically judge fiction differently than do readers who don’t write.
What characterizes the work of writers who write to impress their peers? One, their prose is usually lucid and shows good grammar. There is often the modest use of metaphorical and poetic prose. These writers tend to use standard style for punctuation and dialogue. They don’t want their “format” to get in the way of communicating with the reader.
Writers who write for their peers also tend to insert self-referential elements into their work. They slip in references to other writers and to great works of fiction (which is not uncommon among the “write-for-critics” group, as well). They want to appear erudite for an educated and informed audience.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with writing for other writers. It can bring you acclaim, and sometimes wads of cash. Your work may not be taught in literature classes of the future, but it won’t be something disdained by those who teach such classes. It may not, however, give you the “common touch” that often marks the mega-selling author. And it won’t give you the widest possible audience.
Our next post will take us to those who write only for themselves.
P.S. I’d like to thank Writtenwyrdd (D. Lynn Frazier) for awarding me the “Kreativ Blogger” award. Much appreciated. There is a meme attached and I will get around to that after my current series of posts runs its course. Thanks again!
Also, the new Illuminata is out, with an expansion on a blog post I did called “Word Count Ruthlessness.” There’s plenty of other good stuff in there too. You can download the issue for free at the link. Look for Volume 7, Issue 1.