No, Pulp Doesn’t Mean “Fun”

So, I ran across this interesting discussion the other day on a book forum. I’ll give you the cliffnotes version, but essentially, a few people were discussing their reading habits and all started talking about reading for fun versus reading to be … a literary snob? Okay, let’s be honest here, it was kind of a conceited discussion, but there were some assertions made there that really rubbed me wrong, the focal point (and, naturally, the one heading this post) being the idea that “pulp” meant “fun.” And only fun.

No joke, sadly. This was a whole discussion about how occasionally they would read these “pulp” novels that were fun, and ‘Oh, by the way did you read X novel? I thought it would be literary, but it was pretty fun, so definitely pulp.’

Yeah, if your brain skipped a beat on that last line, join the club. But, in truth, there are whole swaths of readers who think this way. A book that is fun, a book that is enjoyed … is “pulp.” Cheap. Disposable. With no redeeming value aside from the “fun” to be had when the pages are turned.

Meanwhile, anything not “pulp,” ie not fun to read is “literary” and of value. Because pain is good, I guess. You’re not really learning if you’re not suffering.

Look, I’ll be blunt. Just because the US education system seems to believe that doesn’t mean that it’s true. And pulp? Pulp does not mean “fun.” If you really think that, you might need to reexamine what you’re reading. But you should definitely reexamine how you think of books.

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Operation Overlord

Before I get started on today’s post, I do want to issue a little reminder. Today is June 6th, 2019.

Seventy-five years ago, in the early hours of the morning, the world’s largest seabourne assault ever attempted hit the beaches of Normandy. Over 160,000 men crossed the channel aboard transports and landing craft of all kind. 24,000 men deployed in airborne assaults under the cover of night. What followed was one of the most brutal beachheads in all of human history as Allied forces attempted to breach Adolf Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” and begin the process of liberating the dozens of nations and millions of people Hitler’s regime had ground under its heel.

LandscapeOver the next few hours, over 4,000 Allied soldiers would lose their lives attempting to take the beaches of Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, and Sword. Casualties after the battle numbered over ten thousand.

Operation Overlord was a brutal success, a hammer-blow that broke through the Atlantic Wall and gave the allies the beachhead they needed to push further into the territory occupied by the Third Reich. Over the course of the next year, Allied forces would push all the way the Germany, part of a two-pronged campaign that would finally crush the Nazi war machine for good.

If you’re not familiar with D-day, AKA Operation Overlord, than before continuing with this post I would really encourage you to brush up on it. Start with something like the wikipedia page. Maybe find a book or two on the subject. Watch The Longest Day.

Just don’t forget about it. If you don’t understand what happened, please read up on it. If you don’t understand why it happened, read some more. Honor the sacrifice and bravery of those hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers by understanding why they did what they did and what that means for your life today.

Remember D-Day.

Being a Better Writer: You Can’t Make Up Rules When the Reader Knows What They Are

Welcome back readers! It’s JUNE!

Right, I know. Hunter/Hunted isn’t out yet. But I’d plan on it this month. Editing is … well, it’s a process. Both it and Jungle are inching closer toward release … But that’s all that needs to be said there. Right now?

Right now, we’re going to talk about some small rules of writing. Small but vital, and which fall under that mouthful of a title up above.

Now some of you might have guessed, and correctly, that today’s title falls under a rule I’ve talked about more than once on this site: Always do the research. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, from hydraulics to genetics, you need to do the research.

But today just isn’t quite about that. It falls under the same umbrella, absolutely, but there’s a bit more to it. While “always do the research,” whenever I’ve said it, has almost always been about the big things … today is more about the small things, and less about the science of something works and more the methodology.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re going to write about a character studying genetics at a college somewhere in the US, you should work to get the genetic information right. But what about the order in which they study about genetics. What about their classes, or the way their teachers present information? The way their labs are set up?

See, while you may be able to make up material that can fill all those gaps, and get the science right, you can also run into a problem of someone else who’s been through that experience or adjacent to it might be able to look right at it and say ‘Wait a minute, those two things are correct, yes … but they’re also out of order.’

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