The Self-Absorbed Author

This one’s going to be a bit of a rant, so strap in, suit up, and grab your favorite Lays™ snack (this blog post is sponsored by Lays™), ’cause this one is going to be a toughie for a lot of people out there. I’m usually Doctor Fun, complete with sprinkles and sparkly unicorns, but now Doctor Unfun has come to town, and ole Doc F. is gonna have to take the backseat.

People. Love. Talking.

People love to explore, discuss, gossip, theorize, speculate, tease by means of conversation. There’s few things better than a conversation where the person across from you is genuinely interested in what you have to say, and they just let you talk on and on and on about…well, whatever you want to.

But, of course…then there’s that one guy at the church dance who just won’t shut up. He is entranced by the sound of his own voice, and is thoroughly convinced that after the first three hours of you listening to him, you will too. He’s not bad or disruptive, malicious or maniacal. He just likes to talk.

Personally, I have nothing against these people. I just stay away from them. (did I mention that I hate people?) They’re not dumb, nor often socially inept. They just lack contentiousness and they really love to talk. That last one isn’t a problem, but the first one makes you self-centered or selfish.

But, of course, you’re no caveman, so you’ve probably read the title of this blog post. Namely, that some authors out there like to write and write and write, but without regard to whom they are writing to. Too many hours of isolation, and you begin to forget that your books are supposed to be marketed and sold to people who aren’t you.

These are the self-centered authors and, quite tragically, there are many of them these days. The problem is diagnosed into two subtypes: the author who can only write about himself/herself in the most flattering, fantastical way possible, and the author who believes that he/she deserves an audience. We’ll break each of them down…slowly.

Although both subtypes of SCAs have a large dose of hubris, the first instance of SCA (which I’ll refer to as the fanfic author) probably has it the worst. The fanfic author takes the phrase “write about what you know” and cranks it up to eleven, choosing to remake everything in their fictional world in their image.

Fanfic authors often self-insert themselves as characters in the story, romanticizing their appearances and abilities to the absolute highest they can go. The story becomes some sort of self-coping therapy session where the author can take out their frustrations out on the written page.

While I’m not necessarily against this–some people cope differently than others–I do have a problem when a self-coping therapy session or feminist fantasy is printed, bound, published, and touted as literature. Pure fantasy, created by someone who can only think about themselves, is not inherently a story.

Fanfic authors (please know that I’m not talking about every fanfiction author to exist, I’m just using the term for a concept I’m thinking of) often don’t have very much knowledge of writing, and the story pretty much exclusively revolves around the author. Who wants to read that?

An example of this kind of “storyteller” is Mindy Kaling. You might recognize her name as writer of the recent Scooby-Doo spin-off show Velma, where (surprise, surprise!) the main character’s appearance was changed to look just like her, as well as the voice acting role going to Kaling herself as well. As you can probably guess, the character she plays (Velma) is an incredibly capable gay female who makes fun of white males whenever she gets the chance. Yay.

Needless to say, the show’s a total dumpster fire, but it’s nothing new. Kaling has been a self-insert in many of her TV shows and movies at this point, always playing basically the same character with a different name. No one cares about these shows, because literally everything in it revolves around (surprise surprise, again) the author.

With fanfic authors, writing is merely a way to fantasize in front of everyone, to show what they wish they were. LOL, thanks hoss, I couldn’t give a damn. I come here to experience a quality, entertaining story that will leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I could care less about the author’s views on himself or herself.

But, of course, we’ve got to talk about the other kind of author: the clueless one. Usually, the clueless one is ignorant of what writing is truly about. The simple solution to that is simply to show them the truth about their audience: the audience doesn’t mess around when it comes to entertainment. If they don’t like what you have to offer, they’ll leave. Simple as that.

However, some authors think that they get certain freedoms when it comes to crap readers will take. They assume readers want to hear all about this tiny, obscure detail of a battle that took place five hundred years prior to the building of this miniscule town they never cared about and is of no relevance to the story.

Here’s the deal: if you want the reader’s attention, collar it like an escaping animal. You don’t deserve their attention: it must be earned. Never assume that the reader wants to hear about what you have to say. “But they picked up the book and started reading! Isn’t that enough?” No, it’s not enough. The reader seeks to be entertained: the writer must therefore seek to entertain. It’s tough, and it’s a cutthroat market out there, but it’s what must be done. (No I’m not a serial killer)

The answer to both of these ailments is simple: stop being so selfish. You’re a writer, and if you plan on selling your work you’ve gotta recognize that what you like may not be what others want to see. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend writing about something you don’t like, but at least you should pretend that you want to entertain the reader, right?

That’s all.


Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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