The Author Declaration of Rights

The always interesting Pat Richardson over at Otherwhere Gazette has it nailed:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That people *like* to read, and hear and watch Stories.

That Story should come before Message, but message is okay if that floats your boat.

That Books which put Message before Story are fine too, even if boring and tedious and pedantic.  .

That for Freedom of Speech (and Written Word) to be free, that Freedom must be sacrosanct, nothing is off limits, nothing is too offensive

That Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom not to be Offended, nor to impose your Offense on behalf of others.

That Freedom of Speech comes with consequences and others may Consequence your nose if you are too offensive.

That Writers must be free to write what they please and that no one has the right to tell them they may not or should not.

That likewise Readers have a right to read whatever they damn-well please and no one may say them nay.

That anyone who likes Science Fiction – written Word, spoken Word or Dramatic Presentation –  is a Science Fiction Fan.

This declaration is the manifesto of Sad Puppies and its rather more vociferous cousin Rabid Puppies. It’s a statement of what writing and reading should be about, and frankly, it’s rather sad that the traditional publishing industry has twisted our favored genre so much that any of this needs to be said.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident”. They should be, but if they really were, we wouldn’t need to state them. And yes, the echo of the Declaration of Independence is deliberate. This is a declaration of authorial and readerly independence.

“That people like to read, and hear and watch Stories.” It should be obvious but the screams and the misdirection and the lies coming from the anti-sad-puppy side of the fence indicates that a hell of a lot of people haven’t figured this out.

“That Story should come before Message, but message is okay if that floats your boat.” Well, duh. Without a story, all you have is a lecture or a sermon. If the message overwhelms the story it gets boring: ideally any message emerges organically from the characters and plot, it doesn’t jump out at quiet moments and thwap you between the eyes.

“That Books which put Message before Story are fine too, even if boring and tedious and pedantic.” Absolutely. There are enough potential readers out there that literally anything could have an audience. Sad Puppies just finds it rather astonishing that this is the only kind of book that’s been winning major awards in the last ten to twenty years, since there are so many other kinds of book which so many other people enjoy. I should mention that you can, for “message” read “Marxist politics” and there’ll be no material difference in the outcome. Which, if you’re the kind of person who likes Marxist politics is all well and good until the moment you start trying to add to the many millions of corpses that poisonous ideology has produced (and all in a hundred years or so, too. Makes the Religion of Peace look like pikers).

“That for Freedom of Speech (and Written Word) to be free, that Freedom must be sacrosanct, nothing is off limits, nothing is too offensive” That does mean exactly what it says. There is no such thing as partial freedom of speech or written word. It’s a bit like being partially pregnant. When a person can be fined or jailed for saying something that person’s speech is not free.

“That Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom not to be Offended, nor to impose your Offense on behalf of others.” Again, this should be bloody obvious, but apparently there are a lot of people out there who prefer to be coddled and protected from anything that might possibly be the teensiest bit offensive. Mature adults are capable of dealing with being offended without killing the person who offended them or trying to have whatever they find offensive banned. Or blocking whatever they find offensive from being published.

“That Freedom of Speech comes with consequences and others may Consequence your nose if you are too offensive.” This is the human interaction form of Newtonian physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The natural consequence of being deliberately and excessively offensive is getting your nose physically or virtually bloodied. It is not having your livelihood destroyed, being hounded from your employment, or having masked bandits shoot up your workplace and murder your workmates and a number of bystanders. Those are cases of children in adult bodies throwing tantrums over something they don’t like.

“That Writers must be free to write what they please and that no one has the right to tell them they may not or should not.” I could say this should be obvious again, but really, that’s why we hold these to be self-evident. If I want to write and publish a lengthy discourse on the moral imperatives of hanging the loo paper with the end facing in, that’s my choice (and given what I said above, somebody would probably buy it if I ever did go crazy enough to do this).

“That likewise Readers have a right to read whatever they damn-well please and no one may say them nay.” So anyone who wants to buy the loo paper screed is welcome to do so. This also implies rather strongly that it’s flat out rude to ridicule or belittle anyone over their reading taste. If someone likes what traditional publishing is selling, good luck to them. If someone prefers Baen and independent books, good luck to them. Just don’t try to tell anyone you’re a better person because of your reading tastes. You aren’t. Better personhood comes from what you do, not what you read.

“That anyone who likes Science Fiction – written Word, spoken Word or Dramatic Presentation – is a Science Fiction Fan.” Apparently one is not a “true fan” unless one adheres to some ancient musty pile of fertilizer – at least according to some. Honestly, you’re a fan if you like it. It doesn’t matter what form of it you like, you’re a fan.

Right? Right.

This is what Sad Puppies is all about.

25 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

25 responses to “The Author Declaration of Rights

  1. newjerseybadger

    Kate,
    Thanks — whoever edited the vulgarity out of the earlier version of this manifesto, thanks. This is a well-done polemic.
    –Phil S.

  2. I do so have a right to be offended. And you didn’t put in a trigger warning. You should die in a fire. (Sarc mode off?)

  3. BobtheRegisterredFool

    But, But, But…

    Those who work in resource extraction, like geologists and fisheries scientists, are evil because otherwise stuff would waft from the air.

  4. Jim McCoy

    If I want to write and publish a lengthy discourse on the moral imperatives of hanging the loo paper with the end facing in, that’s my choice (and given what I said above, somebody would probably buy it if I ever did go crazy enough to do this).

    That does it. If Kate ever comes to my house, she’s using the bathroom across the street.

    Other than that…

    Right on. It’s so refreshing to hear someone that understands what freedom of speech really is.

    • Reality Observer

      Thing is, I can’t for the life of me figure out whether I should proclaim the Loo Paper Jihad or not…

      What does “end facing in” mean? Does it separate from the roll at the top or the bottom?

      Dang, I’ll need more practice to make a proper SJW. I haven’t perfected the ability to just be offended; I want to know whether it actually disagrees with my faith or not first.

      • I suspect this refers to the critical question of whether the end of the roll goes over the top and down the front, or down the back. I have been assured that Americans all hang their rolls with the paper going down the back, which was a great surprise to me. Probably because corncobs, corn husks, and that great leap forward, the Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog, don’t really come on a roll?

  5. Hanging the loo paper? What about the process for eating a soft-boiled egg: starting at the big or the small end?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Crack the shell in the middle and eat from the middle. [Wink]

    • Buy an egg coddler, you barbarian. That or cook your eggs properly firm and devil them or make salad with them. *sigh* What are they teaching in school these days, really now.

  6. When nobody buys their lit*er*a*ture the only option will be to get a government grant to make you pay at gunpoint via your taxes.

  7. Uncle Lar

    Well said.
    The only writing that I personally find abhorrent is the annoying whinings of the SJW, but I recognize their right to do so. And we have the right to mock them and make funny duck noises in response. That does not mean that I don’t find much of modern literature boring and pretentious, but as long as I am free to stop reading and walk away it’s all good, though I will insist on my right to feel ripped off if I paid for the work in question.
    What IMHO does go beyond a freedom of speech issue is when they attempt to silence those they might disapprove of by bullying, threats, or any other type of force. This we must meet with equal or greater force. Thus, Sad Puppies.

  8. Pat Patterson

    I get a little twitchy when people start talking about ‘rights’ and things being self-evident, but let me leave that subject alone; except to say: readers don’t have rights, but we do have demands.
    Demand #1. We should have a reasonable chance of judging a book by it’s cover. The artwork and text on the cover must NOT be deceptive. If there is a picture of an exploding spaceship on the cover, then don’t have 9 out of 10 chapters filled with people talking about their feelings, UNLESS there is prominent text saying something like ‘A spaceship explosion causes sensitive people to reflect on their feelings about spaceships.’
    Demand #2: If a book is part of a series, it must have SOME value as a stand-alone as well. We don’t really mind not knowing the outcome of Ragtore’s story, as long as there are some smashing great battles or love stories or cautionary tales or WHATEVER fully encompassed in THIS book. This is extremely important when the author is likely to get caught up in other projects. You made us wait FIVE YEARS between the Tide of Victory and The Dance of Time, David and Eric; don’t do it again!
    Demand #3. Get your facts straight; do your research! Don’t tell us that the main character is afraid he might get caught for having an unregistered .44 1911 pistol in Georgia in the present day, because a 1911 fires the .45 ACP round and Georgia doesn’t require pistols to be registered. Actually, almost no jurisdiction requires a pistol to be registered. Also, if one character is orbiting Jupiter, and a second character is on Earth, you either take into consideration the time lag in communications due to light speed OR give us a plausible instant-communications device.
    Demand #4. Have your manuscript reviewed by someone who has a clue about the subject you are writing about, so that basic errors of fact are caught. and have it proof-read by someone who will fix errors in punctuation and grammar. Don’t just rely on spell check.
    Demand #5. Don’t hide essential plot elements from us without there being a reason to do so, and resolve the tension as soon as possible. Otherwise, we are NEVER going to figure out why Bernie is acting that way, and may just assume that Bernie is an unpredictable jerk and toss the book.

    This are included on the list, because if you (the writers) don’t do them, then we (the readers) are being sold something shoddy, or under false pretenses, or both. They aren’t ‘rights,’ because if they were, then that would imply that the writers can be compelled to conform, and that would be absolutely contrary to writers’ freedoms. These are, instead, our demands, and if our demands are not met, then we will implement the only sanction available to us: we will not buy your books.

    • Draven

      Definitely have to agree with #3. One thing that boots me right out of watching an NCIS episode is when they say the pistol X character had was registered to Y character…

      In Virginia.

      Bones has a tendency to do the same thing.

      • Uncle Lar

        Case in point, tonight’s Elementary had them tracing a murder weapon to a gun show solely from a recovered bullet. A dealer at the show sold the pistol to some anonymous buyer with no ID.
        And if you do not recognize at least two impossibilities in that premise you really should not be writing about firearms. At least not without a subject matter expert to vet your work before you publish.

        • Pat Patterson

          Do you think it was political (to advance the phoney ‘gun show loophole’ concept), or just incompetence?

          • Draven

            Pat, they honestly believe the gun show loophole. They don’t know better. They also believe that ballistics can be used to trace any firearm, even though normal wear on a firearm can change it.

    • Pat Patterson

      Ummm…I meant this in a nice way, but as I re-read it, it looks hostile. It wasn’t SUPPOSED to be hostile. I want writers to keep taking my money.
      And besides, while not all readers are writers, all (competent) writers are readers, so there is no false us/them dichotomy possible.
      Sorry if it came off wrong.
      Please keep taking my money….

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I thought the ‘resolve the tension’ request conflicted with the essential needs of the thriller notion I’ve been working out this past while. Genre needs some tension throughout the book, and I think part of the viewpoint hero’s motivations are his unusually horrific expectations for what the badguys might be up to.

        Thinking how to describe this now has helped me to understand how central his emotional reaction is. How far it drives him is much more important that I had realized. He comes to wrong conclusions, but his actions are no less rational and important for solving the true situation than for the one he infers.

  9. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    Signed and solemnly affirmed this 19th of February, Year of Our Lord 2015, by SWG, writing as Tarien Cole.

  10. BobtheRegisterredFool

    The more serious reply of ‘I am still a Sci Fi Fan even if I only care for ad copy for bits of plastic and cardboard?’ infected me with something. I will hold you responsible if I can’t fight it off.

    Advice for writers: If we have glasses, we know how important keeping those clean is? Well, it turns out that clean screens can also be important. Also, there is a decent chance I am not too bright when it comes to some things.

  11. Pat Patterson

    Just finished Duty From Ashes. Starting Henry Vogel’s Scout’s Oath. Will post Amazon review tomorrow. I am finally in the top 100,000 reviewers, after I wrote an insulting review, couched as if it were positive, of some insane hippie dust. I said it was just as effective if you looked at it, so you didn’t need to buy it. It is the first non- book review I have ever done.

  12. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    We hold these truths to be self-evident: That people *like* to read, and hear and watch Stories.

    I’d suggest changing that to:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident: That people *like* to be entertained.

    Entertain your reader, and they’ll follow you for life.

    Wayne