EL James Wants to Release a Writing Guide

Via HuffPo.

I’m sitting here and shaking my head. Wow, seriously? You publish a rehashed Twilight fanfiction and this suddenly qualifies you to do a writing guide?

You know, I think I might be the square here. I must be out of the loop. I had no idea when it was that expressions of estrogen got to be considered quality writing. Seriously, I missed that memo. The original Twilight  was bad enough, and I will never get back the 4 hours I spent reading that tripe of a series on a lost bet. I refused to even consider reading Fifty Shades after I found out what it was based on, and doing the random-page test (go to bookstore, open to a random page, read it) only bolstered that impression.

And she’s releasing a writing guide? On what, how to make money off bad fanfiction? Really, inquiring minds want to know. Or is it the BDSM factor? Several of my author colleagues dabble in erotic fiction, and trust me, they can write that ridiculously bad scene I read out of Fifty Shades into the ground. EL James’s story is what someone I know has aptly named “Instant Mashed Potatoes”, in terms of “just add hormones for instant sales”.

Look, I released four books, and I can tell you one thing: I will not be releasing a writing guide anytime soon. Why? Because I don’t think I’m qualified. My books got good reviews. My plot structures improved vastly over the past seven years that I worked on The Index Series. I’d like to think I’m doing a good job, yes, but I do not feel that my work has been sufficient enough to properly qualify me to release a guide on anything related to writing and publishing. Maybe once I wrap the series up, at Book 20 (or 30!), I’ll consider it. But after doing one arc, no way in hell.

And who knows, maybe EL James can really write. All we know of her is the Fifty Shades trainwreck. If she releases a book that’s completely unrelated to Fifty Shades and it’s good, then I’ll gladly give props where they are due. Then again, if it’s anything like Stephenie Meyer and The Host, which is only barely more palatable than The Series That Shall Not Be Mentioned, then I am not optimistic.

Hey, I write a series too, but you know what, far be it from me to claim that I’m adept enough at writing to release a how-to on it. I wish. Maybe in a decade or two. But only when I know for a given fact that I have learned what I’ll be talking about. I severely doubt that EL James is qualified to talk about writing when her success is based on a fanfiction. I mean, isn’t that considered coattailing?

Good grief. I feel the same sort of say what?! that I felt when Stephenie Meyer tried to claim that Bella Swan was a strong character. Puh-lease. You want strong character? Meet Kataria from my series. Meet Eleanor from Chronicles of Charanthe. Meet Elizabeth Woodville as written by Philippa Gregory. Meet Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. But not that sparkle-loving twit.



6 thoughts on “EL James Wants to Release a Writing Guide

  1. A writing guide from EL James – Priceless! I can just imagine the queues of authors waiting to get their hands on it.

    I have to differ on one thing. My wife and I actually enjoyed the Twilight novels. (‘That explains a lot about their books’ I hear you say.) 50 Shades was a different matter. I got as far as the free sample – that was enough for me. My wife, however, waded through all three books in an attempt to find out if it was just the sex which made them so successful. Every time she came across a spelling error, grammar error, repetition, unnecessary word or formatting error she told me about it. I now feel I’ve read them all too!

    Come to think about it, perhaps EL James could write a useful writers guide. Not one on producing a storyline but on how to take a badly written book and promote it to best seller status. If she also includes how to write graphic sex scenes it might find a market.

    1. You know, that’s an idea. “Succeeding with instant mashed potatoes” – that’ll be a hell of a marketing guide!

      I can think of many authors whose erotic writing could be successful. EL James’s editor needs to revisit Strunk and White…and a dictionary.

      My big qualm with the Twilight saga is the message that it sends. Once you take away the “seraphic” and “handsome” and the “beautiful” descriptions of the sparkly Edward-pire and boil it to the basics, you get an extremely unhealthy relationship between a teenage girl who cannot act independently of a man, and a guy who’s old enough to be her great-grandparent who is effectively obsessed with her. There is a lot of wrong in the equation, and Bella’s willingness to completely submit to Edward and not see a single thing wrong with him physically dragging her across a parking lot (Book 1) is disturbing to me. NOT a message young women benefit from.

  2. Holy crap, seriously?!
    I DON’T as a rule bash other writers but this just takes the biscuit!
    How can someone who wrote such dribble feel, even in their most deluded dreams, that they are qualified to write a how-to?! HOW!!!

    1. Delusions of grandeur are delusions of grandeur, apparently.

      What’s worse is that this is just another case of unfulfilled fantasies. Just like Stephenie Meyer writes about a teenage girl’s wet dream, EL James does a masterful job of appealing to women who have not given thought about what they want out of their sex lives. But really, there’s a good and a bad way of doing both in writing, and this is not the good way.

      1. *sigh* I wish I had anything constructive or at least not venom-laced to say about either set of books, but I don’t.
        I guess I’ll just have to keep plodding along as I am until I’m ready to release my own work; then at least I’ll feel a measure of peace.

  3. I can see it now: “Chapter One. Steal Other Writer’s Characters, ‘Cause Making Your Own is Too Damn Hard.” “Chapter Two. Rape is So Not Rape When It’s Done Sexy (Kind of).”

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