Bad Writing Poisons your Brand
Audience loyalty only lasts so long
I almost didn’t watch it. I took one look at the (admittedly beautiful and intriguing) trailer for “Blue Eye Samurai” and I said out loud: “Oh great, another girl boss. Pass. Hard pass.”
But then I heard a few rumblings from some hard-to-please online reviewers that I respect, so I thought it was worth a try.
It was good. Fantastic, actually. But it got me wondering why I needed to have my arm twisted to take a chance on it.
I, a former female Marine and surly, short-tempered red head, had to be actively persuaded to watch a show about a skilled female samurai bent on revenge.
How did that happen?
Bad writing. Consistently, predictably, INSULTINGLY bad writing for nearly a decade’s worth of movies, tv, and books.
Character Over Plot
Listen, I love John Truby’s 22 Steps of Story as much as any writer, but if you don’t care about (or like) the characters, your story is dead on arrival.
One of the show's most commendable aspects is its rich character development. Each character in "Blue Eye Samurai" is meticulously crafted, with their backgrounds, motivations, and growth explored in depth throughout the series.
Mizu in particular is riveting to watch, even though we don’t know her whole story from the get-go. The voice actor doesn’t quite pull off a male voice, which is a shame, as the reveal of her gender at the end of episode one would have otherwise been shocking. She was written as a character in a story, not a delivery system for a lecture.
Though some elements of the plot beggar belief (hanging off the castle parapets by one hand with a grown man dangling from her other hand, for one), her character development never wavers. Her flaws, her battle with being mixed race, her self-loathing and regret, it all comes together perfectly with the person we met in episode one.
It was gorgeous. SHE was gorgeous. And I can’t wait for Season 2.
Authors Don’t Get as Many Chances as Hollywood
It took a good long while for me to throw in the towel on most mainstream entertainment, but the sad truth for indie authors is it won’t take long at all for our audience to walk away from bad output, even if they’ve followed us for years.
I mention this because, like I mentioned earlier, I had planned to release a book a month this year. But now that I think about it… that’s not going to happen.
Don’t get me wrong, I can totally pump one out every month. But these books have my name on them. They are my brand. If I can barely stand to read what’s on the page, what does it say about me that I would dare ask my readers to spend money on it?
I’ve always said fiction helps form who we are; it’s not just a bunch of silly stories we amuse ourselves with.
So I’d rather take a bit longer to ensure that what I put out is worth the money. It’s literally the least any artist can do.
In January, I gave a talk to the Fictionary community about how to Self-Publish a Book. It’s beginner-level, but maybe that’s what you need: