Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Thoughts on midlist writing

I recently posted about the death of Michael Pataki, a talented character actor who had roles in Star Trek and many other TV shows and films. I made a comparison with the careers of character actors and midlist writers. Lisa Glover from the Fantasy Writing Yahoo group shared these thoughts on the group and I thought they were worth reproducing here.

"I remember the scene and the actor too so thanks for posting. I took a couple of acting classes with a working actor. One of the classes he spent talking to us about the difference between being a star and an actor, and he pointed out a lot of what you did. Stars are limited in what they can do, character actors have much (less lucrative) but more fulfilling careers. He also told the group something that's stuck with me, he told anyone who wanted to be a star to stop studying acting. Stars aren't actors. Stars are a personality, they don't become a character. They don't do the interesting work an actor does.

"I think some of the 'star' writers do the same thing. They write one book over and over again. They can't step out of the genre they do and they can't shake it up. I'm not attacking them for it because, hey, they're making a lot of money writing, but pick up a John Grisham, you know what you're getting. Pick up a Laurell K Hamilton, and you know what's she's going to do. Then there are the 'starlets' here today, get the big movie deal and cash in, but never seem to carry that kind of success to the next book."

Well put, Lisa! Several midlisters have told me that while they regret not getting onto the bestseller list, they like being on the midlist. There's more freedom there. We need to embrace the term "midlister."

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