Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I'm reading Fifty Shades of Grey at the moment (oh yes I am), which has been widely derided for its subpar writing quality.
So far I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as I had heard people complain of it, but yeah, it's not, nor do I think it's supposed to be, Shakespeare. (I'll write a full Fifty Shades post when I'm done with it).
I've long held the belief that the publishing industry cares too much about a certain level of writing quality, and I'd include myself in the camp as well.
The publishing industry is full of people who can tell "good" writing from "bad" writing, the definitions of which contain a certain degree of subjectivity but not endless subjectivity. Most people can tell Fitzgerald from fan fiction, and people within the industry can get very granular.
Sure, you need to be a good, or even great, writer for literary fiction, but what about commercial fiction? The list of clunkily written bestsellers is long. I'm unconvinced the majority of the reading public cares about "good" writing. They care about stories and settings and characters. Prose? I'm not sure I buy it.
We're about to test this on a massive scale as the books that would never have made it through the publishing process in manuscript form due to subpar prose are out there ready to take off, sell a gajillion copies and prove the industry wrong.
But what do you think? Is the industry too wrapped up in "good" writing? What do you think about the public's appetites? Should the industry still try to maintain the same level of quality of writing even if the public doesn't care?
Art: Heinrich Heine on cover of Die Jugend