Fiction Writers: Soloists or Thieves?

By posted at 1:21 pm on November 12, 2010 2

From Lev Grossman’s blog, “A Brief Taxonomy of Writers”: “As far as I can tell there are two kinds of fiction writers: those who read no fiction while they write, and those who constantly read fiction while they write. Let’s have cute names for them. We’ll call them Soloists and Thieves.”

The Millions' future depends on your support. Become a member today!

Share this article

More from the Millions

2 Responses to “Fiction Writers: Soloists or Thieves?”

  1. Mike
    at 8:41 pm on November 12, 2010

    Fair enough, but are you saying their are writers out there who don’t read books? That’s pretty amazing. How good can these ‘soloists’ be? There’s not really that much in the way of truly original characters/plots etc in the world; whats interesting and original is typically a handful of so-so ideas combined in a very clever way. People who read alot of fiction might have more ‘soso’ ideas (borrowed) from which to pick.Then again, most of what we write is heavily influenced by our own lives. So the soloists could be just writing from their own life. Not exactly fiction.

    Bottom line: I don’t think we should chastize those who ‘borrow’ ideas, as I think originality is kind of overrated. The point is not to be clever or cute, but to be good. The thing with writers who read alot of great books, they tend to absorb not only writing styles (what you might consider influencing styles) but other people’s ideas for plot/characters, subconsciously. Writers who read alot tend to be much better writers.

  2. Emily St. John Mandel
    at 9:19 pm on November 12, 2010

    It’s amazing to me too, but I met a novelist at a literary festival once who claimed he never read books. I haven’t read his work yet, but he was shortlisted for the Giller prize (one of the top awards in Canada) so I’m assuming he must be good.

Post a Response

Comments with unrelated links will be deleted. If you'd like to reach our readers, consider buying an advertisement instead.

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments that do not add to the conversation will be deleted at our discretion.

NEW COMMENTING RULE: Comments may be held for moderation and/or deleted. Whitelisted commenters will see their comments appear immediately. Don't be a jerk. We reserve the right to delete your comment or revoke commenting privileges for any reason we want.