Friday, January 25, 2008

Writing "Rules"

Apropos of my blog yesterday about head-hopping and "rules" of writing:

"When one begins to be persuaded that certain things must never be done in fiction and certain other things must always be done, one has entered the first stage of aesthetic arthritis, the disease that ends up in pedantic rigidity and the atrophy of intuition."
-- John Gardner, THE ART OF FICTION

After blogging about plots and Mr. G's theory about them, I ordered his book from my library and it's now in my hands. I'm glad I didn't buy it, because while I may agree with Mr. Gardner on some points like the one above, I can't say I'm too impressed with his attitude toward genre fiction.

To quote from the preface: "...most of the books one finds in drugstores, supermarkets and even small-town public libraries are not well written at all; a smart chimp with a good creative-writing teacher and a real love of sitting around banging a typewriter could have written books vastly more interesting and elegant."

Okay, so not only are writers of genre fiction less intelligent than chimps, he slams small town libraries, too. But there's more!

"Not everyone is capable of writing junk fiction: It requires an authentic junk mind."

You must just imagine my expression when I encountered that little gem.

And in case we of the junk minds and chimp brains are too dim to really get his point: "What is said here, for whatever use it may be to others, is said for the elite; that is, for serious literary artists."

Not us plebs. Oh, no, we're just goofin' around. Not serious about writing at all. I spend all that time and all that effort on my books, and fret and worry and revise and rewrite, but hey, it's just a laff riot. Hardy har har!

Ay yi yi!

1 comment:

Jen L. said...

What he said sounds so stuck-up it makes me want to hurl.

Pardon us humble hillbilly types that enjoy stories about life and love, good triumphing over evil, and happily ever after.

Just because these "humble" novels may not be studied in some literary class doesn't mean they don't have something important to say.

Argh. I'm gonna go scream now. lol.