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le_inferno's avatar

Would you rather write a single novel of esteemed literary merit, or get filthy rich writing a brainless, fantastical series with no kind of academic recognition?

Asked by le_inferno (6154 points ) August 6th, 2009

And when I say brainless and fantastical, I mean, let’s say… vampires, werewolves, and wizards.

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43 Answers

DominicX's avatar

If the fantasy series was truly brainless, I would much rather write one novel of literary merit than write a series for the sake of writing a series and selling copies. Of course just because a novel has wizards, vampires, and werewolves, doesn’t mean it’s brainless.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

define literary merit, because the novel I want to write is fun, bouncy, humorous, and only involves unicorns and FSMs in passing. The real story is about a 300 foot tall goddess with 6 breasts.

le_inferno's avatar

@DominicX Course not, but when you think about the Twilight series, brainless is pretty much the first adjective that comes to mind. :P

le_inferno's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Lol. When I say literary merit, I mean the kind that can be discussed and analyzed in an academic setting, scholars can write critical analyses on it, etc.

drdoombot's avatar

A single novel.

I’d rather be a Harper Lee, John Kennedy O’Toole, Marcel Proust or Oscar Wilde than a Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Danielle Steele or Jackie Collins.

Darwin's avatar

I opt for filthy rich. Once you have that money in the bank, you can do just about anything you want for the rest of your life, including writing the literary masterpiece.

Of course, the brainless stuff needs to come out under a well-disguised pseudonym.

dpworkin's avatar

I used to be wealthy, and now I am impecunious, and I can tell you that it is possible to be rich and miserable, and poor and happy. I would much rather feel that I had written something important than to have made money.

kenmc's avatar

The former.

The knowledge that you’ve affected a multitude of people has a greater effect on me than paper.

drdoombot's avatar

Or you could always go the Herman Melville route; he got famous and rich on writing pop novels, then realized his works didn’t mean anything. So, he buckled down and started churning out literary masterpieces to show his critics that he did have something worthwhile to say.

Jeruba's avatar

The one breathtaking literary achievement for me, thank you.

We should not forget that it is possible to write a thumping good yarn that is also of surpassing literary merit. Ennui is not the price of quality.

growler's avatar

I would rather write something that meant a great deal to my audience, regardless of who they are. However, if I were to stick with the two choices, I’d pick just one. Brainless has never appealed to me, in any form.

Darwin's avatar

I prefer the Melville route. While it is true that one can be rich and miserable, or poor and happy, you can also be rich and happy, or poor and miserable. At least, I’d like to see if I could be rich and happy at the same time.

PerryDolia's avatar

“All I want is the opportunity to prove money won’t make me happy” Spike Milligan

Give me the brainless money.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Let me write the bs and swim in riches first because that will buy me the rest of my life to write something else I feel more important. Thing is, if what I deem bs sells so well it makes me filthy rich then for a lot of someones, it’s not bs.

derekpaperscissors's avatar

Literary merit. I might not be able to live with myself if I wrote something fantastically stupid. But then again, if the intent was to scam the thousands of trend riding folks, and be filthy rich while at it, then that’s a smart accomplishment in itself. Of course, I’d have to keep that secret to myself.

Janka's avatar

Depends on what you mean by “literary merit” and “brainless”.

Jack79's avatar

The former, though I would not agree with your characterisation of “brainless”. Tolkien wrote stuff like that and he’s one of the greatest writers of all time. I’ve also heard the Twilight series is actually good, though I haven’t read it myself yet, so I might be wrong.

Resonantscythe's avatar

Honestly I don’t care much for the opinions of random strangers who I’ll never meet or talk to so I’d go for the money. However, if I were to write one that was of merit and because of the merit(seeing as such works are afforded notable sales) made enough to live on, I’d be fine with that. Though it seems the majority of such recognition is received posthumously.

actually read the twilight series and it’s not the story that’s brainless, but the three main characters. Bunch of illogical, insane masochists. Plot holes created not by the author’s lack of imagination but the trap she set for herself by making the characters so ridiculous.Which I find funny because many of her less developed characters are so much more complete, sane people in general than the leads

loser's avatar

Give me rich and brainless any day! Woo-hoo!!!

FlutherMother's avatar

Rich and brainless! Only because my goal would be to make people smile, chuckle and feel better after reading my useless piece of fluff. However, if my book could do all that AND have merit, I wouldn’t complain.

mrentropy's avatar

If i can write something that will make high school students moan in pain for the next 50 years, then I’ll be happy.

Jack79's avatar

@Resonantscythe so does this mean it’s exactly like Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”? ;)

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

To heck with all of that. I want to write trash. Harold Robbins. Jackie Collins. Kick it all and live the good life.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Brainless would be Scientology, have you ever read the origin story of that particular cult? L. Ron Hubbard had some seriously fucked up issues.

As for literary merit, Evelynism has that, as worshipping a 300 foot tall deity that doesn’t believe in punishment as form of coercion/corrective behavior is bound to raise some eyebrows.

ShanEnri's avatar

Yes to both! I see no reason why you can’t write an esteemed literary fantastical series that you make tons of money on!

Resonantscythe's avatar

@Jack79 haven’t read that by from what i could gather from a summary, no it doesn’t get anywhere near that bad because of the mushy-gushy fairy tale feel to the whole thing. But the three main do have these disturbing obsessions going on. I mean, the first book is all about how the girl and robert pattinson Meet three times and are suddenly, hopelessly and disturbingly obsessed with each other to the point you have to wonder how many times they were each dropped on the head(and how much of the mushy stuff you can handle before you reach for a barf bag). It’s basically like they went out on one date and decided they’d get married.

wundayatta's avatar

I’d write a fantastical novel with literary merit. I’d want to be recognized in both ways. I read fantastic literature all the time, and I think it generally does not get its due, although that is changing as more and more universities offer courses in fantastic literature.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to write fantastic literature. I don’t seem to be able to write much of anything, except answers to fluther questions.

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – Actually it wasn’t so much that Hubbard had issues, it was that he was first and foremost a science fiction writer who created a religion so he could live well (very well, actually). As science fiction, a number of his books display many fewer issues than Heinlein’s later books. As a religion, I can’t say they are really that much worse than most religions.

Evelynism excepted, of course.

Jeruba's avatar

@pdworkin, will you tell us what happened?

filmfann's avatar

At first, I thought the answer was easy. Something literarally signficant would be so cool. Then I thought about Salanger, and how crippled he became with the success of Catcher In the Rye. The man is trapped by his early work. He doesn’t leave his room.
Give me the riches of crap.

derekpaperscissors's avatar

@filmfann Never knew that about JD Salinger, I’ll read more about it. New discovery of the day thanks.

Hatsumiko's avatar

I immediately thought of the Twilight series, hehe.

I would definitely write one with literary merit. I’d like for students to study it decades after I am dead.

Ria777's avatar

fantastical does not equal brainless (or vica versa).

kyanblue's avatar

Does it have to be only literary or only interesting?

Ideally I would write a literary book that would also be humorous, interesting, and accessible to people who are afraid of the ‘classics’ or booksnobs.

But, you know, if brainless and fantastical series rise to prominence (or the New York Times bestseller’s list) they must be doing something right. People identify with books that say something about human nature or themselves.

To take the Twilight example, Stephanie Meyer is acutely aware of teenage girl fantasies, and writes to appeal to that audience. In that sense, it is very successful, because she has embodied the psychology of a certain sector of teenage girls/hopeless romantics.

On the topic of Twilight: the first book was the best. It had romantic tension and cuteness and was an enjoyable read, even if it’s not ‘literary’. The second one is basically all angst because the main girl is too dependent on her vampire—that’s a seriously unhealthy relationship dynamic right there; the third book is an overplayed love triangle, and the fourth is B-movie-horror-flick-creepy-love-story. But don’t let that put you off if you haven’t read it. Stop at the first book when you still like the characters.

filmfann's avatar

@kyanblue Welcome to Fluther. Lurve

kyanblue's avatar

@filmfann Danke. ^^ It’s nice to be here.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i would rather be oscar wilde than stephenie meyer, if that answers your question. (;

Darwin's avatar

Even though Wilde is dead and Meyer is not?

kyanblue's avatar

@Darwin Deadness is relative. In a hundred years, who is more likely to be remembered?

Darwin's avatar

“Be warned in time, James, and remain, as I do, incomprehensible: to be great is to be misunderstood.” – Oscar Wilde, Letter to James McNeill Whistler (23 February 1885)

bumwithablackberry's avatar

Does this mean “Harry Potter” has no merit, or am I walking into a trap? But rich, I don’t have the mind to write well, anymore, so I would have to go for the money…

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