Let’s lampshade the irony of Kilgore Trout (perennially penniless sci-fi author who can only get his work published in porn magazines, recurring Vonnegut character, noted communist) being used to sell an open-exchange fandom’s work back to them for a profit.
Kindle Worlds works like this: Amazon approaches a series/franchise/TV show/et cetera, and makes a deal with them. Kindle Worlds will sell fanfiction submitted by fanfic authors and cut them in on a piece of the profit. The fanfic has to get the stamp of approval from the source material (so no E-rated smut here, folks), but once it does it will be marketed back to fans of the show, who pay a fee to read it.
The Vonnegut Trust made the deal with Amazon, meaning that they will be joining the likes of other Kindle Worlds-secured licenses such as The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, andGossip Girl. Not exactly the hardcore fandoms that produce epic works like The Shoebox Project and Redemption Road.
Somehow, I don’t think Amazon realizes just how off the mark their conception of the fanfic world really is. Based on how they are going about making Kindle Worlds, it seems like their conception of fandom is a product of 50 Shades of Grey‘s success and the dollar signs that came with it. Understanding the fanfic world using E.L. James‘ example is like trying to understand American culture by watching Jersey Shore. The way they are approaching the subculture betrays their ignorance, and is only serving to push the fans (who would be their clients) further and further away.
Vonnegut begins with an admonition against the impersonal sterility of journalistic reporting — something particularly important amidst contemporary debates about how personal the writerly persona should be — and a meditation on the single most important element of style:
Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writing. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.
These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful–? And on and on.
Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your reader will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an ego maniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.
The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show or make you think about? Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.
So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head.
“We Have to Continually Be Jumping Off Cliffs and Developing Our Wings on the Way Down” – by Whitson Gordon
Authors Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, both of whom have been cited as saying versions of this quote, know a thing or two about creativity. They say that “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” Apart from being a vivid image, it’s a great metaphor for taking risks. Sometimes, you need to just jump headfirst into a project, even if you don’t know where you’re going with it yet. You’ll learn as you go, and sometimes that’s the best way to get the results you want.
True dat. Except when it isn’t.
Well, okay, we’ll give Ray and Kurt the thumbs up for truth sign. But FWIW we believe in making just a few preparations for stepping off the cliff. Some knowledge or skill that might double as wings.
But we’re definitely believers in the “No safety net” theory of life. Because sometimes going splat! is the best way to learn.
(And failing as a writer won’t kill ya like a 1000 foot fall will. The human spirit is much more resilient than too many people believe.)
Lovely Literary Art Prints That Feature Quotes By Famous Authors by Rusty Blazenhoff
New York-based illustrator Evan Robertson of Obvious State has created a line of lovely literary art giclée prints that feature quotes from authors like Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, and more. They are currently available to purchase at Fab.