The world is full of bad writers. While most of them lurk in obscurity, some of them actually get their work published to less than staller acclaim. Many of them will take on board criticism to try and improve their craft. Others accept that writing isn’t for them and find something else to do with their lives. But some writers will respond to criticism by coming up with excuses to defend their work and prove any negative comments wrong. This is by far the most immature way you can respond to criticism and isn’t going to change anybody’s negative opinion. If you find yourself making any of the following excuses, it may be time to re-think your writing:
‘It has an important message’
The majority of stories do have some kind of message or moral to them, but that doesn’t mean that every story needs one. What irked many people about the critical and audience response to the Seth Rogan film Sausage Party (the one about food having sex) is that they forgave the lowest common denominator humour and racist stereotyping because it supposedly had an important message about blindly following religion. This type of message is completely out of place in a film which exists only for shock humour.
Just as bad is a story entirely about an important issue (such as the string of cyber bullying films which have come out in the past few years). These types of ‘issue stories’ are incredibly difficult to portray correctly and generally need experts on the issue to get right. Yet if the story does fail, creators will assume that any critics are against whatever message it was trying to convey.
‘It’s dark and gritty’
After the success of grim dark stories such as A Song of Ice and Fire, new authors seemed to get the idea that everything else needed to be dark and gritty too. I love fiction that isn’t afraid to take risks or delve into controversial territory, but again that doesn’t necessarily mean that every story needs to do so. The cynical tone works in A Song of Ice and Fire because it’s supposed to be a cynical work and the opposite of the classic heroic fantasy such as Lord of the Rings or the Narnia series. Certainly write grim dark if you want to, but don’t feel as if you need to.
‘It’s not meant to win awards’
Not all books are written to be great works of art or to teach important lessons. But all books should at least entertain, because that is their primary purpose. Even if your story is aimed at the lowest common denominator audience, at least write something that will entertain them otherwise your effort put into writing will be a waste of time.
‘It’s only for children’
This is by far the most infuriating excuse that anybody hears. Even today people are under the assumption that since children are easier to entertain, stories written for them don’t need to be as good as the ones written for adults. This is a load of bullcrap. First of all, parents frequently watch or read a story along with their children and need to be entertained by it too. Second, children may be less critical about fiction but that doesn’t mean they are stupid and need to be pandered towards. We remember the stories we loved the best as children into our adulthood and return to them fondly later on in our lives. If anything, writing for children is harder and should have more effort put into it.
‘I worked really hard on this’
Generally the more time and effort put into a piece of writing, the better it turns out. It’s easy to spot a half-arsed piece of work that the writer rushed through to try and publish it quickly and it’s just as easy to spot a work which the author has lovingly poured all of their attention into. But even some of the most memorably awful stories out there still had blood, sweat, and tears put into them. The upcoming film The Disaster Artist is about the real life story of how director/writer Tommy Wiseau put so much effort into his magnum opus The Room and yet it still turned into one of the most laughably awful films ever. If people are criticising your work despite the effort you put into it, it’s because you haven’t fully developed your craft yet, you didn’t put in enough work, or you put the work into the wrong areas.
Are there any more excuses made by bad writers that you have heard? List them in the comments below!