Pretentious Writers Not Welcome #amwriting

By: D.M. Miller

Hemingway
Hemingway

After reading the most pretentious blog post written by an author, slamming fellow writers for their incompetent work in what she herself describes as a rant, complete with four-letter words (so eloquent), without naming names, I have no choice but to respond. This particular author, successful perhaps in her own eyes- (although if reviews are any indication of success as so many say they are, having topped out at 17 reviews at her very best, she cannot exactly be swimming in glory)- has a bone to pick with indie authors who do not follow the rules.

Now, a word of caution to those who believe the syllabus of the writing teacher is the gospel. Do not be so quick to criticize. The inflated ego will eventually deflate. And rules are made to be broken. (Like this one: do not start a sentence with “and.”)

The best way to illustrate a point is with an example, my favorite being Ernest Hemingway, one of the most celebrated authors of the modern era. He also happened to be highly criticized in his day for his simple style, that simplicity since becoming the norm in popular fiction. Not that everyone writes the way he did, but they try. Hemingway was a pioneer, who once said, “the greatest writers have the gift of brilliant brevity, are hard workers, diligent scholars and competent stylists.” Words to live by. Incidentally, there’s nothing in that quote about following the leader, Pavlovian conditioning or coloring inside the lines.

Winning both the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize validated his work, and all those critics with their noses glued to the rulebooks could huff and puff all the way to the poorhouse. Hemingway may have been a machista, and he may have been wild, but he did things his way and became one of the most famous authors of all time. And the critics? Where are they? Does anyone remember them?

If everyone wrote the exact same way as how the teachers preach, it would be a bore. And yes, I wrote “preach” not “teach” due to the passionate worshipping from so-called “proper” writers.

Certainly there is a reason for the rules. Those rules should be learned but subsequently broken as quickly as possible- so long as the writing is good enough to rise above the bleary, dreary conventional wisdom.

I’m sick and tired of hearing about the rules. If the book sells, the story moves, and the readers are salivating for more, it’s a good book. Period.

Pretentious writers and critics can take a hike.


D.M. Miller is the author of The Religion of the Heart, an interfaith romance between a Muslim and a Jew, which tackles the issues others tip-toe around. It is a book that breaks the rules. If that bothers you, don’t buy it.

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8 thoughts on “Pretentious Writers Not Welcome #amwriting

  1. I completely agree! It’s like when everyone bemoans that 50 Shades is badly written, I can’t help but think to myself – “but do you know what? It’s bloody popular, and it’s made millions”. Who are we to say that because something is not great literature or doesn’t follow the rules, then it’s worthless? It’s readers who decide what a great book is, not teachers and critics.

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  2. One of the reasons why many authors subscribe to the idea of writing by “Rules” is to impress traditional publishers who incidentally have a rigid point of view where writing is concerned. In that sense, one needs to adhere to basic conventions. Agreed, once in a while a writer arrives on the literary landscape breaking these rules with panache, but then not everyone can do it with flair.

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    1. By no means are all indie authors the next Ernest Hemingway. However, I find it in poor taste to criticize those who break the rules but have found success. Those who challenge our old, stuffy way of thinking are always the ones who step out from the herd.

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  3. Just to clarify: I was not implying that we throw out all rules to the point where the manuscript is unreadable. There are certain writing rules, more so than grammar rules, which can be broken if the writing is good enough to justify it. I stand by what I wrote and only clarify it after hearing someone’s misinterpretation of the article.

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  4. I agree. Too often books being published all fall into the same mold of what is generally considered “good” at any given time. Tends to stifle creativity. However, I do believe a books must be readable and general rules of grammar obeyed.

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    1. Sure, books are still books and writers still writers. I wasn’t suggesting we should slap any old thing together and try to pass it off as literature. 🙂 Some of the criticism however, is too rigid and based on tired rules or the opposite- trends. Formula writing gets boring.

      Thanks for your input, Vivian.

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