Monday, December 3, 2018

Why Fan Fiction Is Ruining Literacy

So, we were sitting around the dinner table last night and somehow, the Arthurian legends came up. Not really sure how, but it really does not matter. One of my daughters proceeded to talk about what she believed to be the true Arthurian legend. It was far from accurate. The story was based on what she had seen on our wonderful television media of ONCE UPON A TIME and the series MERLIN. When we tried to discuss with her the versions from the original Arthurian legends, T.H White's ONCE AND FUTURE KING, or even Tennyson's IDYLLS OF THE KING, her only comment was, those stories are boring.

Let me just say, I am a Literature Major. I believe in reading. I believe in reading the humanities to understand the world and our history. However, this world we are living in has truly become lazy and are slowly moving us toward a second Dark Age with nothing but an illiterate population.

K-12 education has eliminated reading novels, claiming arguments of public funding to "these are not skills found on standardized tests." AP and IB programs don't even read full novels any more but just give the "highlights" to get the students through the tests.

I was talking to a mother who she, and her son rides at the stable my daughter rides at. She was venting about how kids don't even have to write significant papers showing any analysis about what they have read. Her son has had to do a diorama, a Powerpoint presentation and a movie trailer, but in all cases, had to be limited. Translation... no thinking.

Parents are not even supporting literacy. Take a look the next time you got to the mall. How many times will you find a parent shoving a cell phone into a kid's hand to "give them something to do" while the parents shop endlessly for garbage or buy their Grande Skinny Peppermint Mocha.

While this might seem like a general cultural thing, the publishing world, is following in these same footsteps. Stories that have no plot are the stories the publishers are acquiring. In the romance industry, the trend is heading toward stories with sexy guys, no depth, low level vocabulary and certainly no significant plot.

The days of thinking are going away fast. If SIRI cannot answer the question, or SPARKS NOTES does not have the answer, it is apparently not significant.

The reality of the situation is that we need to remedy this fast. Parents can promote reading. Turn off the stupid TV and social media and read. And yes, parents, this mean you too need to read. Schools need to promote reading again. Not short cuts.

But this even means the industry needs to get off their butts and do something. Publish stories with depth. Quit going for the "easy" sale. Quit going for the fast money. Look for quality. Let me just say this is part of the reason Greyhaus Literary Agency has not signed an author in a long time. I want quality and not just the quick sale.

I challenge those of you who read this blog to promote this.

1 comment:

  1. One of the things I did when trying to get feedback on my writing was to put some stories out there in different categories using different pen names and selling them on Amazon. I decided to publish several short MS's say 10,000 to 20,000 word novellas and a few 30,000 words. To my surprise, the ones in the 15,000 word range sold must faster than longer books. I wonder if it is a time constraint or if there is some other reason the shorter books are selling as opposed to the 50,000 to 100,000 word books.

    I do worry about our world as proper grammar does not exist any more and I worry about spelling. Everything is comparing or teaching to a test but nothing is focused on teaching comprehension and thinking. I have no idea how we will get that back.

    Love your great blogs, keep them coming.