Mark Terry

Monday, June 18, 2007

Does Your Writing Suck?


June 18, 2007


Well, the reason I'm asking is John Scalzi has several posts about the subject. Apparently he wrote a blog post a while back about why teenage writers' writing sucks, and then he noted that they tended to not read the comments where he defended things...

I don't, actually, know if your writing sucks. One imprecise measure of Writerly Suckiness is if you're getting published. If you're not, your writing might suck. (Oh stop swearing at me, for God sakes! I said it was imprecise.) That isn't to say that great writing doesn't sometimes get turned down. The problem might be lack of persistence or lack of luck or, I don't know, the vagaries of an unfair universe. It's not like we're born deserving to be published. There are some pretty sucky writers who are great storytellers. There are some pretty fabulous writers whose stories (in my opinion) suck like an Electrolux. In my opinion, then, they're not fabulous writers because being a good storyteller is--to me--part of the definition of being a good writer.

Anyway, John, among other things, talks about being adequately unsucky and other levels of unsuckiness and I think you should go read his posts and stop swearing at me.

Here's a bit from his post:

Before I list the arguments, let me stress again something that gets lost in the shuffle: It's okay that teen writers are not particularly good writers right now. Almost all of them will get better with time and practice. I mean, hell: I did. It's not an insult to note that someone doesn't do something well, yet: It's just an observation. I have every expectation that teen writers will get better. If I didn't, I wouldn't have bothered to write the original article at all.

Cheers,

Mark Terry

10 Comments:

Blogger Aimless Writer said...

Oh no! I'm not published--my writing must suck! However, I'm not a teenager either so that must mean--- no, i don't think I want to go there.
I may not have been born to be published but I was definately born to write!
:)
I just can't stop myself.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Have faith, Aimless. And keep marketing, marketing, marketing.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Eric mayer said...

How about writing that sucks the reader in...?

5:28 PM  
Blogger The Dark Scribe said...

Another point that should be emphasized: Getting published doesn't mean everything you ever wrote is publishable. Sometimes all that old stuff just plain sucks, and being newly published doesn't change that.

It does, however, suggest that you've improved :)

7:41 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Now that's a question I ponder daily, LOL.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Eric,
I think that might be one definition of great writing.

Dark Scribe,
Good point. And from time to time it's worthwhile looking back at stuff that went unpublished. Last year I took one of my manuscripts that I had been quite proud of but couldn't sell (despite many, many markets it was sent to) and tried to turn it into a script treatment. What I discovered was that although the story was fairly compelling, it was sort of a sprawling mess and the writing itself needed to be a lot better. Lesson learned, I think.

I'd also add that just because you're published doesn't mean that everything you write now is going to necessarily be good or publishable either. Sometimes our ambitions can outstrip our skills. Or sometimes we just try something that doesn't work all that well, for whatever reasons.

SS,
Yeah, I ask myself that pretty much daily, too.

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11:33 PM  
Blogger Kimmy said...

I'm a teenager. My writing just plain sucks cuz I'm a teenager and I haven't had the chance to improve much yet. Well, time to get back to my suckish novel I'm writing.

9:27 PM  

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