Saturday, April 16, 2011

N = Narrow-minded

Is being narrow-minded the same as being ignorant? The definition of narrow-minded is "lacking tolerance and breadth of view". And the definition of ignorance is "lacking knowledge".

As writers we come across one of these characteristics every day and, as writers, I'm sure you all have your own stories to tell.

Mine are well known. I've already blogged about people's attitude towards me now I've written an M/M novel: here . The problem is, they hear it's about two gay men and they immediately jump to conclusions and so are not even prepared to read it. Ignorance or narrow-mindedness?

Others (usually literary professionals) are not prepared to read "Perfect Score" because it has a prologue, an epilogue (shock, horror) AND alternating chapters with first and third person POVs. Wowza - let's hang her from the nearest tree! That so goes against the rules of publishing. But, yah-boo-sucks, it got published, folks. And why? Because it works and the rule-breaking is necessary - according to those who have read it, as well as my publisher and editor. I'll break rules if I don't agree with them or if I think they're unfair. So, in my opinion, if something works in writing - do it, but justify and know why you do it. 

Another example of narrow-mindedness is many people's attitude towards self-published authors. I'm not self-published but I don't consider myself any better than those that are. Of course, there're always exceptions, but look at Amanda Hocking and her success. I'll never reach the heights she's achieved (yet).

So what do you think? Are these examples of narrow-mindedness or ignorance? Oh, by the way, the picture I posted here illustrates ignorance :-)


  1. It can be either, depensing on their reasons. I would say "because they're gay, I won't read it" would be ignorance.
    The alternating chapters in your book...I agree that it doesn't always work...but I also agree that with your book, it definitely DOES. The people who do not read your book are completely missing out. Period.
    It is a wonderful read.

  2. That picture is hilarious. Cat. Male. Not very friendly. Likes to play dead.

    Minds too narrow to let in the hefty girth of knowledge end up ignorant. And lightheaded. Let's hope they all pass out soon.

  3. grrr...typos! depensing (obviously) = depending.

    lol...have a great weekend!

  4. Amanda Hockings wrote stories in a popular genre and marketed herself well. It doesn't mean she's that good of a writer. Now that she's going with the big guys, it will be interesting to see if it's true talent or teenage vampire obsession.

  5. I keep thinking that if as a writer you do not stay true to who you are and your message, then what's the point? Writing to me is a vocation, its not like being a file clerk for example, where you could perform at the same level no matter what. It needs deep emotional and psychological investment.Hopefully, reader and publisher will one day realise that there is more to life than their stereotypes. I'm working through mine just as a result of this post.

  6. Thank you April - you're fabulous.
    L.G. Yes, the picture is great. They say it's a "male" but refer to it as "she" all the way through LOL.
    rkfinnell - I haven't actually read anything by Amanda Hockings (not because she's self-published! Just haven't had time). Yes, let's see if she has true talent.
    Wendy - you summed it up perfectly - stereotypes. Publishers like to stay with them because the public like them - they're not prepared to go out on a limb. Sad but true.

  7. I think narrow-mindedness comes from ignorance because as knowledge spreads people become more accepting. Take self-publishing. A few years ago it was considered to be nothing more than vanity. Now more and more authors, including those who once had publishing deals, are self publishing. Writers have woken up to the power of the internet and self-promotion

    Great post!

    Ellie Garratt

  8. I think you gave perfect definitions in your first paragraph. As for what people consider is "right" or "wrong" for books currently, there are as many opinions as there as publishers!

    Just to set your mind at rest: I have a Prologue, and Epilogue and a dual perspective in my new novel, and no-one has blinked an eye.

  9. Yes, Ellie, as knowledge spreads then people become more accepting. Self-publishing is becoming more and more accepted.
    Deborah - I'm so pleased! But then, you're a well-known author and I'm...well, I'm someone they had to take a chance on.

  10. Probably a little of both. Things like this change with more exposure and more open communication. Congratulations on getting published! That's a huge accomplishment.

  11. Thank you Leslie!

  12. I call it tunnel vision because publishers say, don't change POV, don't have a prologue, yet, when it is done well, it's great. The book The Help, which I love, is from the POV of the 3 main characters. They flipflop every chapter. Love it. Love hearing the different voices. And as for me...I always have a prologue or introduction and probably always will. I just like it that way and as a reader, I like having it there.

  13. *groan* you are tricking me into THINKING, aren't you.
    Okay. Here goes: Both are self-inflicted.

    ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’ yada, yada.

    The term, ‘narrow-minded’ speaks more to peer-pressure by friends and family.
    But both conditions are by choice.
    Now back to my usual snarky side

  14. I love The Help, Jeanne - one of the best books I've ever read. Yes, you're right it's written from the POV of so many characters and it works perfectly.
    Huntress, peer-pressure is a very important factor, especially in narrow-mindedness

    Thanks Siv.
    Thanks for posting everyone.

  15. I agree with Ellie. Narrow-mindedness comes from ignorance. People tend to be afraid of what they don't understand, so they go with the tried and true. The truly gifted people break out of the way it has always been and find their own path.
    Don't let anyone stand in your way, that is the only way real progress is made.

    Pamela Jo

  16. thank you Pamela Jo - oooh, I love your comment that "truly gifted people...". Don't let anyone stand in your way! Hooray! A girl after my own heart.

  17. My favorite rule of writing is to know the rules so you can break them.

    Ignorance, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, whatever the label, we can use it to make us stronger (if it doesn't kill us first.)

  18. Yes, Gail - if those qualities didn't exist, what would we write about? :)

  19. I love this post. I think a lot of people use the two interchangeably and at times, they're almost the same, so I guess it depends on the situation. Ignorance can be completely innocent, but I think you make the choice to be narrow-minded, if that makes sense. I'm glad to hear you mention self-published writers, I think the stereotypes are starting to fade a bit, but there's still a taboo attached to it and it's not necessarily fair.

  20. I view ignorance as a lack. When people lack knowledge, it's usually because they haven't had the means or opportunity (or curiosity) to learn about a particular topic.

    I view narrow-mindedness as a product of one and/or two things: 1) true ignorance (as in I don't know about molecular biology because I've never had the reason or occasion to study it) or 2) a conscious decision to avoid something (as in, I don't like to each fish becasue I choose not to like it--I dislike the smell and, on the rare occasions I've eaten it, didn't like the texture).

    If I sampled a dozen different kinds of fish, I think it's likely I'd find a type I do like. Which means that, at the moment, I am both ignorant and narrow-minded. If I sample a dozen types of fish and find I still don't care for it, then I'll be neither.

    P.S. I'll probably always be ignorant about molecular biology. But not narrow-minded about it--when will I have the oppportunity (or time) to study it?


Don't be anonymous - it's not worthwhile. Anonymous comments go straight into the spam box. Sorry.