Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The World According to Deviant Art: Literature Edition

Deviant Art is a website for artists. Artists of all kinds: Writers, painters, photographers, etc. I have been a member for many years now and for slightly less time, I have been an active voice in the writing community. I like Deviant Art but like any community it has evolved its own unique culture. Every now and then I like list my observations about that culture.

A few years ago, in my first entry on The World According to dA, I said that nothing interesting ever happens in the forums. This is still largely true. The differences these days is my grip on my sanity is much weaker and so I actually spend more time than any man should on dA's literature forum. And much like the rest of dA, I've noticed certain trends. There are things in the literature community which are true. This is just how it is. This is how things are done, how they have always been done and how they will always be done. I'd like to explore some of these with you now.

1. Don't write until you have permission. You might think your idea is good but you won't know how good it is or if your story will be good until you ask strangers on the Internet if they think it will be good. Whatever you do, put off starting any new project until you've got the go ahead from a handful of literature forumites.

2. On second thought, don't write stories at all. Stories don't matter. Nobody wants plot. Just write characters and settings. All anyone wants in a book is some expansive world-building and characters with long, dramatic histories. Remember those chapters in Moby Dick where Melville just writes about the history of Nantucket and he describes the officers on the Pequod? The whole book should have been that. Only more detail, like what their blood type and favourite food.

3. Stickies are for chumps.

4. Everything is personal. That's why you have to keep reminding anyone you talk to that your disagreement is not a personal attack - even when it is. Because there is no way you can have a debate, a discussion or even a small disagreement without it being a personal attack on a person. So be offensive and get defensive because the shit storm's-a brewin'.

5. Forum regulars are all arrogant trolls out to make you feel bad. This is, of course, related to above. When the experienced and worldly writers of dA try and tell you something, you must respond by calling them names. Then blocking them. Bonus points for threatening to report them or implying they suck at life and ending your sentence with a smiley face.

6. The best way to be a successful writer is to follow trends. Not current trends, mind you, dead trends. Find something that is at least six years old (Twilight, Naruto, The Walking Dead) but you are still obsessed with/just discovered and rewrite it. Bonus points if the setting is psuedo-japanese. The other trends you must be aware of are hate trends. Keep up to date with whatever ancient shit people are still bitching about (Twilight, Naruto, The Walking Dead) and make a point to complain about it whenever possible.

7. Expect feedback. Expect in-depth criticism and review. Expect to be given a "How To Not Write Crap in Ten Easy Steps" manual every time you upload something to dA. You are entitled to help from strangers on the Internet. That help should also be printed clouds, wrapped in rainbows and delivered by unicorns just so it makes you feel extra special good. But YOU don't have to give anyone feedback. You're far too busy wondering why your comments are late to read somebody else's work and comment.

And finally, the most important lesson of all that dA can teach an aspiring writer:

8. Don't write short stories. Don't even write novels. Only plan to write series - three books AT LEAST! Put them up on dA one chapter at a time and submit those chapters to every critique request thread and group you can find. This is both quick and easy because chapters only need to be about two hundred words long. And if, while writing one series, you happen to think of something new just abandon that project and start a new series. Finishing stuff never did anyone any good, anyway.

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