A couple of weeks ago, we noticed there were certain topics writers just can’t agree on.
Discussion seems to be a huge part of the writing life, especially because there are so many hot topics to choose from. And, as we move toward the digital age, I believe the number of friendly arguments will continue to grow.
If you had to cast your vote for one side or the other, which would you choose?
- (S)he, S/he, Him/Her vs. They, Them. Should ‘they’ be used in place of ‘he’ or ‘she’ when the person’s sex is unknown? If not, do you prefer to see said person referred to as ‘he or she,’ ‘he/she,’ ‘s/he,’ or ‘(s)he’?
- Literary vs. Genre. Which style of writing are you committing your life to–literary or genre–and why? Which do you prefer to read?
- Print books vs. E-books. Will E-books take over print books, or will they continue to be secondary? If you could only choose one format, which would get your vote?
- Kindle vs. iPad. Devoted reading device, or multi-functionality? With all the recent hype over the iPad, do you think you’ll be converted?
- Self-Publish vs. Remain Unpublished. If you knew you had a good book on your hands, but you were certain to never be offered traditional publication, would you self-publish and market your book yourself, or remain unpublished? Would your answer be different for fiction and non-fiction?
- Plotting vs. Pantsing. Do you outline your projects before writing them, or do you pants your way through a number of drafts?
- First-Person vs. Third-Person. Which point of view is more effective–first-person, or third-person? Does one POV work better for certain types of writing than for others?
- Self-Edit vs. First Draft. Is it better to edit yourself as you’re writing (so you end up with a polished piece of writing on the first try), or to bang out a quick first draft (and be able to see the overall story before going back to add details and edit)?
- Routine vs. Random Creativity. Do you commit yourself to either a strict writing regimen or a somewhat flexible schedule, or do you just write whenever the muse takes over? Do you force yourself to write even when you don’t want to?
- Prologue vs. No Prologue. Are prologues more awkward and annoying than anything, or are they a useful tool? Would you include one in your current work, or should they only be used when absolutely necessary?
- Library vs. Amazon. Would you rather grab a much-anticipated book from the local library for free (and maybe have to wait until it’s available), or fork out the money to purchase it online or from a bookstore?
- Rhetorical questions vs. Not. Some agents claim to hate them in queries, and here’s The Rejectionist‘s not-so-polite look at why rhetorical questions don’t work. Do you think a ‘no rhetorical questions policy’ is too harsh, or are there circumstances in which they’re effective?
- Agent vs. Direct Submissions. When your work-in-progress is complete and polished, do you plan on searching for a literary agent to represent you, or will you go the route of direct submissions?
So, how do you vote?
Join the discussion
Nice post, Suzannah.
In regards to the e-ink argument — the only real point some readers have against the iPad, — chances are you look at a screen, either at home, at work, or while writing, for several hours on a daily basis anyway.
Reading in general will strain your eyes, regardless if it’s print or digital.
I have strong feelings toward print — opening the cover for the first time, strength of the spine, the smell of the pages, and other nostalgic feelings, — but I feel there’s not really a comparison between the iPad and Kindle or Nook.
The iPad is $10 more than the Kindle’s comparative model (10″ screen).
In addition, I have a feeling iBooks and the iBookstore will open the doors for independent publishers (meaning everyone eventually) to publish their work, and either make it available for free or for a price. With the publishers already onboard with the iBookstore, there’s no question it will reach the same level as the App Store, which has enabled developers to create and sell publish their work.
I recently wrote a post about this at scribbleplay, called Writing your Book on the iPad (perhaps another debate?)
.-= Read ChristopherR2D2´s last article ..Writing your Book on the iPad =-.
I have strong feelings toward print, too. In fact, I’ve never even held a Kindle in my hand, so this is one argument I don’t get into. I think both seem pretty cool, but I don’t know that I’ll be buying either any time soon.
Lydia Sharp says
Wow. I’ll give it a shot…
1) Depends on the context. I’m not averse to either one.
2) I write science fiction, fantasy, and women’s fiction, and I’ll read anything.
3) If I could choose one, it would be print books. I only have an interest in ebooks because I’m involved in the publishing industry, and I view it as an occupational requirement to know all the options.
4) Not a clue. I’d have to try them both first and compare.
5) I’m already published in short fiction using the traditional route, so I never considered going any other way for my novels.
6) I’m a mix of both.
7) I read and write both first and third, and don’t view one as better than the other.
8) I edit as I go, but that doesn’t eliminate the need for editing and revisions later when the first draft is complete.
9) I do force myself to work on something every day or, at the very least, 5 days a week. I work on several projects at a time, though, so it stays fresh. If necessary, I can force my creativity (anyone who has ever worked on a deadline knows that this is possible, and it can produce some of your best writing).
10) Depends on the story. A prologue should always have a purpose, and I think many writers get confused by what that purpose actually is, which is why many prologues don’t work.
11) I do both. Depends on the book. Some I don’t want to wait for.
12) I hate rhetorical questions, so I have to agree with the no-tolerance policy some are suggesting right now. Most rhetorical questions are horribly lame. Not the first impression I would want to make with someone who is a potential business partner.
13) Agent. They know the industry and what specific publishers are looking for better than I ever will.
Great questions! That was fun. 🙂
.-= Read Lydia Sharp´s last article ..What’s In a Name? =-.
I agree with the rhetorical questions thing, mostly because the reader is generally not going to answer in the way you’d like them to.
1. I prefer “the person” or something like that.
2. Which style of writing are you committing your life to? I’ll leave that open
Which do you prefer to read? Most everything but gravitate to historical fiction and fantasy
3. E-books – go green baby
4. multi-functionality, but the i-pad is not quite there yet.
5. Self-Publish, either one
6. Start out with pantsing and move into plotting before too long.
7. First-Person and Third-Person are both effective. It depends on the story.
8. I have to say I sort of do both.
9. For my current life-style is is random creativity trying to move to routine
10. Prologue depends on the story again. I have seen them used with great effect and wasted. The writer makes the difference
11. Amazon. I just can’t wait.
12. Rhetorical questions would drive me crazy if I was a agent unless I got this: What if this query letter never existed. That would make me read more.
.-= Read Southpaw´s last article ..Hannah =-.
For #1, what about in a context where saying “the person” would be horribly clunky? Would you go for the default of “he,” or use some combination of “he” and “she?”
1 – They
2 – Literary. I hate genres. I hate the limits. Enough. Said.
3 – Ebooks. Love my print books, still buy some, but more e than print lately.
4 – Kindle . . . for now.
5 – Remain unpublished.
6 – a little bit of both, though mainly pantsing.
7 – I pretty much stick with third person.
8 – personally, self-editing stops the flow of writing . . . at least for me.
9 – flexible schedule. I write when I write, and don’t when I don’t. The days of stressing over not writing ending a while ago.
10 – once upon a time I was a fan of prologues. Now? Not so much. I still write prologues every now and then, but normally end up incorporating the info from the prologue into chapter one.
11 – Amazon.
12 – if effective use them, if not, don’t.
13 – agent.
.-= Read Scott´s last article ..Chapters =-.
I have a flexible schedule, too. I write almost every morning, but if something comes up, I don’t sweat it.
Susana Mai says
1. Don’t mention it. Describe the actions w/o pronoun: “Wearing rags, with a umbrella clutched in the hand, then a smile as a sun ray hit upon the alleyway…”
2. I write literary, read both. I think I liked fantasy/sci-fi better when I was younger, but good writing is good.
3. I’m a pretty tactile person. I’ll read blogs/articles/anything short via electronics, but not books. Besides, I like the smell of paper. Go figure.
4. Neither. Unless…is it true that the i-pad can also be used as a maxi pad?
5. If it wouldn’t be published traditionally, it ain’t good.
6. Pantsing, hehe. It makes editing a real drag when I need to tweak the plot twists.
7. What about poor second person! I’m a first-person girl myself, however.
8. I think you have to edit as you go along, but make sure you keep moving FORWARD. Otherwise you might get nit-picky and never finish.
9. Inspiration is BS. Sometimes you’ve just got to make yourself write. This being said, I’m very stubborn, and apt to procrastinate.
10. Prologues? 99% unnecessary. 1% woah, that works.
11. I buy most of my books secondhand. Anything new I beg friends and family for.
12. They sound obnoxious in real life and fiction. My vote is don’t.
13. AGENT! That’s what they’re there for, right?
.-= Read Susana Mai´s last article ..Do Writers Have An Obligation to the Public to Write? =-.
What you mention about #5 is my concern. If everyone eventually turns to self-publishing, how will we know what’s what?
1. (S)he, S/he, Him/Her vs. They, Them. I’ve used all but in speaking I tend towards they and try to toss in a she – just to remind people that there’s nothing sacred about the so-called neutral ‘he.’
2. Literary vs. Genre. Genre all the way. I read literary at times and love it but I’m a genre writer through and through. I love telling old-fashioned stories, adventures, quests, mysteries and love reading them too.
3. Print books vs. E-books. There will always be a place for print. Given a choice, I would rather have a book in my hand. E-bokos, will however geta lot bigger, I have no doubt.
4. Kindle vs. iPad. In theory, I would vote for multi-functionality. The truth is, I haven’t bought into either – yet.
5. Self-Publish vs. Remain Unpublished. I don’t think I would be willing to put that much $$ and time into the kind of self-promotion and distribution that self-publishing would require. Instead, I might ‘publish’ on the web, through a website or blog, and attract readers that way. Ditto for fiction or non.
6. Plotting vs. Pantsing. I was a pantser but when I ran into a major block when I had no idea of where the story was going AND I had to go back for the third time to re-write the beginning because the middle had changed, I quickly converter to a hybrid form – some plotting, writing, more plotting, etc.
7. First-Person vs. Third-Person. I’m writing a first-person novel now and have been on a big 1st person reading kick, but I’m open to either. I’m also working on a coupe of 3rd=person shorts and I’m enjoying those too.
8. Self-Edit vs. First Draft. First Draft for sure. I’ve been going back a lot in my current WIP but that’s because I didn’t plan enough. Overall, however, I say let the muse run. (Except for obvious spelling errors – I can’t let those sit 🙂
9. Routine vs. Random Creativity. I and striving for the former but have been acting on the latter lately. Creativity is like fitness in a sport – you won’t have it for the big game if you don’t practice it all the time.
10. Prologue vs. No Prologue. Only when absolutely necessary. In too many books they are a crutch that is over-used, mis-used and abused. Start the story at the beginning – not ten years before, etc. However, in some genres they work better than others, like historical fiction that covers a long time period or sci-fi where they can help with world-building.
11. Library vs. Amazon. I’m a huge fan of libraries. If I purchased all the books I read, my family would go hungry! Often I will take the first few books in a series out of the library until I am caught up and then purchase the next ones as soon as they come out.
12. Rhetorical questions vs. Not. No opinion on this one.
13. Agent vs. Direct Submissions. I plan to go through an agent, because as a new author I really want an ally and guide through this strange territory. In the future, who knows?
.-= Read Danielle´s last article ..Update and More About the Melting Himalayas =-.
I’m a huge fan of libraries at the moment, as well! I used to buy all my books when I was young and had money all to myself. Ah, but things change in that department, don’t they? Thanks for sharing 🙂
Human Being says
I would definitely choose paper books over ebooks.
If all our knowledge, culture, and history, were to be stored on hard drives and disks, then the entire progress of our species could be wiped out with the literal flick of a switch.
Everything digital is stored in a string of binary code at it’s core. And it is the job of technology, which relies on high voltage/amperage electricity, to interpret and present the data to us in a way that we recognize and can understand.
Without those means of interpretation, the means to access the data once it is digital, or the means to preserve them in a fashion that will withstand the changes and withering of time, we could soon find ourselves in a situation of complete darkness.
Go Green! all the way. But be logical and sensible about decisions as well. Yes, there are many books which could, or perhaps should, be limited to ebook publishing only. When it concerns to the foundation of knowledge which has built this species however, I prefer to err on the side of caution and favor keeping things such as text books, scientific journals, and other similar publications in print.
Thanks for you $.02 🙂 I prefer print books, as well. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to buying digital books now and again–especially if they’re ones I know I’ll only read once. That is, of course, when I break down and actually try a Kindle.
Jens Altmann says
“especially if they’re ones I know I’ll only read once.”
Those are exactly the ones I would never buy as an ebook. Those are the ones I get from the library. 🙂
.-= Read Jens Altmann´s last article ..Review: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief =-.
Suzann Ledbetter Ellingsworth says
1. In how many plausible instances is it crucial for the gender to remain unknown? If it absolutely positively is, revise to avoid the pronoun altogether.
2. Both. Both. Genre (literary is a genre, too) is in the eye of the editor/sales and marketing department. Hemingway, Faulkner, Dickens, Poe–all were commercial/genre when alive and publishing. Scratch most literary novels and you’ll find a genre core.
3. Print. Contrary to the current uproar, ebooks remain 3-5% of the retail market.
4. iPad, if ever an e-reader is acquired.
5. Self-printed books (fiction and non-) average fewer than 200 copies sold on average. I’m a writer, not a publisher, distributor, or bookseller, nor do I want to become all combined.
6. Plot. Just as I wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint.
7. POV isn’t an either/or. Depends on the plot, characters and the most effective, compelling method by which to impart the story to a reader.
8. Write, then revise. Plotter or Pantser, you truly don’t know the characters or the story, until it’s told. Once it is, you have a fully realized basis for revisions.
9. Routine. In what other business or profession do you have the freedom to work when you want to or are in the mood? Give yourself permission to write badly and fix it later. Not to play hooky. Once published, deadlines are not suggestions. Try telling an editor you’re missing one, because that darned ol’ muse won’t cooperate.
10. Prologues are nearly always backstory. Backstory is seldom an effective, compelling opener.
11. Library. Interlibrary loan, if necessary.
12. No rhetorical. If it wasn’t overused and underwhelming, agents wouldn’t blog negatively about it.
13. No good reason to not do both. Agents will disagree. An honest one will admit a given editor won’t remember a proposal the agent submitted a few weeks/months prior. The odds of an editor remembering a writer’s rejected proposal when later an agent submits it? Slim to zilch.
Thanks so much for your thoughts on these subjects. I like your point about how we don’t truly know our characters or story until it’s told. That’s exactly what I find with my writing–that I need to get down the bones of the story, then go back and fill in the gaps with the new insight I’ve gained along the way. To create a fully fleshed-out story on the first pass would be incredibly difficult (for me, at least).
Jens Altmann says
1) If you write the story, you know the person’s gender. This shouldn’t come up at all. If I refer to an unknown gender in correspondence or something like that, I use „they“ because I find s/he etc. clumsy.
2) I read whatever sounds interesting. If it’s literary, then it’s literary. If it’s genre, it’s genre. In writing, I tend more towards genre. I don’t want to educate, I want to entertain.
3) My vote goes for print. I expect ebooks will remain secondary at least throughout my lifetime, but eventually the print book will disappear.
4) Neither. Both have considerable drawbacks, not the least of which are the DRM issues. The current ebook readers have the apparent advantage of e-ink, which is supposedly easier on the eyes but doesn’t work well with graphics. The ipad has the drawback that I don’t see why I should buy the ipad instead of a netbook that costs half as much and offers more functions.
5) For me, self-publishing is admitting failure, admitting that I’m not good enough to be published. I’d rather destroy all my manuscripts than self-publish. However, self-publishing can be an option for non-fiction, if your subject matter is too obscure/specialized to be of general interest.
6) I’ve done both, and I prefer to work from an outline.
7) It depends on the story. Again, I’ve done both, and they both offer benefits and drawbacks.
8) Self-edit all the way for me. I can’t work any other way.
9) I try to force myself to maintain a regular schedule, but alas it doesn’t always work out that way. When I force myself to write, it’s always crap, so the only things I force myself on is if I know there’s a paycheck at the end.
10) If the story requires a prologue, it needs to be done. If not, then not.
11) It used to be that I bought everything I wanted. Then I ran out of space and out of disposeable income. So I use the library more and more. I also use media swap groups.
12) If the agent doesn’t want rhetorical questions, don’t use them. End of discussion.
13) I’m currently agent-hunting, so that should answer that question.
Thanks for weighing in. For #11, I used to buy anything I wanted, too. That was, until I got married, had children, and didn’t have money anymore 😉 Now I use the library whenever possible. I do buy the ones I know I’ll want to read again and again, though.
.-= Read suzannah´s last article ..Writers Face Off on 13 Hot Topics =-.
1. (S)he, S/he, Him/Her vs. They, Them.
2. Literary vs. Genre. Which style of writing are you committing your life to–literary or genre–and why? Which do you prefer to read?
–> Genre, coz it is more expressive and expresses emotions better
3. Print books vs. E-books. Will E-books take over print books, or will they continue to be secondary? If you could only choose one format, which would get your vote?
–> Love to hold paper in hand. So, Print Books.
4. Kindle vs. iPad. Devoted reading device, or multi-functionality? With all the recent hype over the iPad, do you think you’ll be converted?
–> Thats easy… Kindle is so 2009… Its the age of iPad now…
5. Self-Publish vs. Remain Unpublished.
–> IMO, it would be almost impossible to get good sales if you self-publish instead of using the distribution network of a large publisher. So, I am unsire
6. Plotting vs. Pantsing.
7. First-Person vs. Third-Person. Which point of view is more effective–first-person, or third-person? Does one POV work better for certain types of writing than for others?
–> First person is easier. I would prefer it over third person writing style.
8. Self-Edit vs. First Draft.
–> First Draft. Always take your own time to perfect the post before publishing.
9. Routine vs. Random Creativity.
–> I tried to routine my writing, but didn’t succeed. So I guess I’ll stick to Random Creativity
10. Prologue vs. No Prologue.
–>I guess Prologue’s are a norm. Everyone writes a prologue…
11. Library vs. Amazon.
–> I like to purchase books for my collection (even though I might not read them all)
12. Rhetorical questions vs. Not.
–> Its your right to be Rhetorical 😉
13. Agent vs. Direct Submissions.
–> I guess Agents would charge a fee, but use his contacts to get us better deals and larger publishers…
.-= Read BenzuJK´s last article ..Steel and Aluminium Partitions =-.
Jens Altmann says
Agents don’t charge fees. The only money they get from you is the commission from what they earn for you.
An agent who charges fees is a scammer.
Agents shouldn’t charge anything at all for reading your query, partials, or full manuscript. You shouldn’t pay anything at all, in fact, unless they manage to sell your book. Then, and only then, do they charge a commission. So, my thoughts are that agents are the way to go. Like you say, they can negotiate far better deals than we could for ourselves. Thanks!
.-= Read suzannah´s last article ..Writers Face Off on 13 Hot Topics =-.
1. Depends on where I see it. I don’t mind any of the terms in many things I read & write, though I tend more towards using “they”. It’s just stories where I hate to see anything other than “he” or “she” – as Jens said, I don’t see much excuse for not knowing.
2. I read & write children’s books.
3. If I had to choose – print. Don’t completely trust where ebooks are going just yet – and this whole Amazon/Macmillan mess is not helping.
4. iPad! I’m looking forward to trying out ereading with that. I read somewhere that the whole notion of backlighting causing eye strain is a myth — like Christopher was saying, any kind of reading can cause it. I find that the surrounding light in my room will make more of a difference to me.
5. Think I’d remain unpublished. For me, the point is that I’ll NEVER know if I’m good enough to be published until I’m published. Self-publishing, even if it sells some, will not change that opinion of my work.
6. I do need some sort of outline to write. It’s very general, and I’m not afraid to change it if needed.
7. Definitely best POV depends on the story you’re trying to tell.
8. I think it’s better to spit out the first draft, fast. But I self-edit. I think it’s a curse.
9. I do not force myself to write. I know I should, & I expect that will get easier when my youngest is off to school.
10. I actually don’t mind prologues at all. But I would definitely avoid using one myself!
11. I will purchase a much-anticipated book – NOT at Amazon, but I’d try to buy local! I use the library a lot, but the wait list is usually too long for me with new, buzz-worthy books.
12. NO rhetorical questions! I typically like to answer “no” to those myself!
13. Depends on the project. Picture books are going direct. Others, I will try to seek an agent.
On #6 I am just now swinging, like a large and heavy gate, over to plotting. That leads me to #9, in which I started to just capture an imaginative turn of phrase that wafted through my head this evening and found myself fully 800+ words into a file called “Scenes-OneLiners”. The one-liners (“You used to be an Irishman. What happened?”) and scenes (2 Civil War soldiers decide to go over the hill) all fit into the plotted outline … so they properly count toward today’s word count.
As far as e-readers go? There are quite a few more than listed above … so I don’t see the field as being an ‘either / or’ proposition. I’m fine with selling to them, but I doubt if I’ll ever actually buy one.