The perception that some types of writing are lesser than others

I often come across the misconception that a technical writer has no ‘real’ writing skills. They can write a user manual or training materials, but that’s not real writing, is it. I mean, anyone can do that.

In particular, there is a widely held belief that the technical writer cannot write business documents. (Even though we’re often the ones who write the company style guide that tell other people in the company how to do it.)

A technical writer, for example, ranks lower than a business analyst or the media/communications person.

It’s a little like being a genre writer.

“Oh, you write fantasy (or science fiction). Then you’re not a ‘real’ writer, are you?”

Or as Lynn Flewelling puts it …

… by now I’d picked up on the subtle concept that exists among some non-genre writers that fantasy writing is the basement of the literary ghetto and that as a writer of such, I probably had no business breathing the same air as “real writers”.

Lynn Flewelling (original quote was from the Voyager Online site, but link has gone now)

Some genres rank higher than others. Mystery writers come higher on the respectability ladder than fantasy writers, as do those who write techno-thrillers, while romance writers come lower. Yet of them all, who is the most likely to make a respectable living out of writing? The humble romance writer.

Even our own little genre niche has its layers of supposed superiority. Hard-core sci-fi fans consider science fiction superior to fantasy; and hard science fiction is superior to soft. I’m sure, if we delved deep enough, we’d even find some types of fantasy are supposedly superior to others.

Me, I love it all. Give me a good story with great characters and I’m lost. This world or any other, I don’t care. Based on science or magic—or both—I don’t care.

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