Writing Advice

Writers: Quality or Quantity?


Quality or Quantity?

It’s a question that’s existed for centuries, and, it also applies to writers.

Why? Simple:

In a world where quantity is stressed over quality, many forms of entertainment have been produced far below the artist’s potential, all in name of profit. Now I have nothing against making money and I love money just as much as the next person, but when the quality of art (music, books, paintings, film) starts taking a nosedive in quality, then it becomes a social issue.

Why? I’m glad you asked.

Producing sub-standard mediums for the general public can only lead to a depreciation in standards, and this often, if not all the time, leads to a decline in overall quality. The result usually resulting in more sub-standard work being produced.

For example remaking songs. Nowadays many artists are re-making songs from bygone eras in an attempt to gain the favor of fans from that generation. But this often results in a mediocre, if not sub-standard product which also serves to alienate the fan base the artist is attempting to build.

I grew up in the 1980s, when countless 5-Star films, books, T.V. shows and toys were of the highest standard. So what does today’s artist do? They take an idea from the past and try to make it their own. This seems to create a vicious circle of output of remakes and tired ideas which belonged to another era. It also leads to dissatisfied consumers.

So now we get to books. There are authors out there, who produce mass quantities of books, all in the name of profit. Mind you, I’m not trying to criticize these individuals, but they are doing their readers-and all readers in general-a major disservice in the name of making money for themselves and their publishers. Why? Because it’s easier to hire a ghostwriter, pay them a small fee and cash in on your name. Thus quantity comes to mind.

But there is a way around this dilemma, and that is to focus on quality.

Let me offer a prime example: Tolstoy wrote only two full-length novels, War & Peace, and Anna Karenina. But what novels were they. Calling them epic or Legendary is an understatement. They are perfection, God’s voice on paper, for all to admire and aspire to be.

These two Novels, or Godly creations are timeless as is Harper Lee’s To Kill and Mockingbird, or J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Both of these precious novels were the respective author’s only work, but they easily slam dunk the quantity-obsessed mediums that are cranked out today.

It’s hard to write a book that’s good and even more difficult to write a book that’s great. But my point is not that you ignore writing series’, but try and write each book to the best of your ability.

Look at Stephen King’s Dark Tower or George R.R. Martin’s A Song of fire and Ice series’. It took King over 20 years to complete his legendary series and Martin’s is still ongoing. Why? Because they wanted to write the best books possible, and when the ideas for a book didn’t come, they didn’t force the issue. They wrote on their own timetables, not some deadline-induced frenzy, leading to an assembly line of mediocre books.

Again, I’m only stating my opinion, not trying to knock people who favor quality over quantity. But consider this: would you rather write a handful of books that were your best work? Or, write six dozen mediocre, or 3rd rate works that end up in bargain tables in bookstores across America.

The choice is yours my friends.


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