Write Like This Or Else

Write Like This Or Else

Feb 23, 2023

In the past, I have seen authors disrespect other authors. Sometimes it's trad pub authors talking smack about indies. But sometimes it's authors trying to tell others how and what to write. Which is a massive pet peeve.

I recently saw a post that implied, not so subtly, that if an author who is not LGBTQ wrote a character who is, they would "call them out for lack of depth." The only way I can see to do that is by writing a bad review on Amazon and Goodreads. The multi-tweet rant came across as a threat to the career of anyone who wrote a character for who they could have no personal knowledge of their lives. As though they would sic their friends on you. For nothing more than a straight author writing an LGBTQ character.

This poster deemed it would be appropriation, and therefore justification for an author being "called out." I've come across attitudes like this before, and to be blunt, it was bullshit then, and it's bullshit now. Before it was forcing authors to end books in particular genres in a certain way, or they would "end your career." It wasn't even implied. It was stated straight out. Write your book this way, and end it this way, or we'll make sure you're never a successful author.

I have to give the current post credit. At least it's more subtle than the first. The implication is still the same. Write how we tell you or else. Nope. That's not how this works, children. Writing fiction is a creative process. Being told how to write, what we're allowed to write, and how to end a book necessarily contradicts that creativity. If we give in to that, what's the point of any human author writing? At that point, we might as well give in to AI and stop writing. Without any creative license, books will be formulaic and boring.

Now don't get me wrong. There are times when an author should employ a sensitivity reader, to make sure we aren't getting it wrong. (See Truth In Fiction.) We owe that to our readers. Not to mention pissing them off is probably not the best idea in the world. That said, I see no reason we can't expand our horizons, and learn about and write characters we aren't necessarily personally familiar with. As long as we do it with respect and empathy, there should be no problem with it.

I'm the first person who will admit, if you tell me I can't write a thing, if I want to write the thing, I'm going to write the thing. And I'll give you a middle finger salute doing it. I don't like other authors telling me how to write. I'll let my readers and my characters tell me that. In my mind, if they (the other authors) want me to write a certain way, they can bloody well write the book and put my name on it. I'll gladly take the money from the sales. If they won't agree to that, then leave me to write how I want.

We're all adults, right? (Or most, in theory.) Then it stands to reason we've all been taught to take responsibility for ourselves. Or at least we should have been. (I'm not sure if some were ever taught this lesson.) So why can't we support each other while doing our own thing? You write the way you want, I'll write the way I want. If you don't like my book after reading it, then leave a constructive review. Or message me. Either way. It's not necessary to destroy an author's career because they wrote something you don't approve of.

This behavior is no better than schoolyard bullying, and as I said above, it's bullshit. Grow up. We need to support each other, not lord our pissy attitudes over people. Do better.

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