Pro vs amateur? Mainstream vs offbeat? Marketable vs creative (or "Just for fun")?

There've been a number of questions and answers too where I felt that the focus was on making what we write as, well, marketable as possible. So, is that our focus? Pro writers, who want to make a living writing (which hardly anybody manages anyway)?

Or how much room is here for people who want to write just for the heck of it, and in so doing, eschew conventions quite deliberately? Or, where on that giant gray-scale rule does this fall? Or does it have to fall (which is why I'm not totally sure if I should even ask this question)?

2 Answers 2


The Stack Exchange framework in general is designed for expert questions and answers. That doesn't necessarily mean that on any given Q&A site in the network novice questions aren't welcome. On some sites related to academic work graduate level questions and higher are the minimum. Sites like StackOverflow tend to welcome questions from beginners and provide at least hints towards students doing homework. The key is that someone answering is an expert. Expert won't necessarily mean a Caldecott winner answering on children's books or anything. Expert Alan Kay answered a question or two on StackOverflow and that didn't change the course of the site. The highest reputation point holder over there, though, is a fairly noted expert in one of the main programming languages discussed on the site.

So while we don't need to narrow our focus only to writers who have writing as their day job (and shouldn't), we do need to attract sufficiently knowledgable people to the site. They should feel that answering questions is worthwhile and even that they might get questions of their own answered at the expert level. I think also that we want others in the industry of writing and publishing on the site, which means that some level of focus on professionals might naturally develop.

We should welcome people who want to write because they love to write, whether or not anything they write is ever seen in a wider audience. I'm not sure what our focus audience has to do with eschewing convention specifically. Perhaps you can clarify there.

  • What I mean with the conventions bit: Many answers are about following "the rules" so your story/novel is palatable/digestible by "the masses" in order to maximize selling potential (the latter bit inferred from the former). (Granted, many questions are being asked in order to get these answers). It's just that these answers are not the only truth... except if the focus is on getting published (and making gobs of money... as if) Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 18:37
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    @jae - I regularly suggest following the rules. I do so because I believe they make people better writers regardless of what publishers prefer. There's certainly historical proof that good writers who eschew convention can get published. There's also way too many pieces that prove that writers who never learned the conventions and practiced them often (not always) have no idea how to eschew them in an interesting, meaningful way.
    – justkt
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 22:08

There's nothing in the description nor content of this site that suggests Writers-SE is only for those who wish to make money from their writing (i.e. professional writers).

We purposely use the term "experts." Absent a bonafide expert, certainly the term "enthusiast" is apt. That is to be inclusive of people who love to write and want to become better at their craft (and precludes questions like "how do I get out of doing my own homework?").

Writing is a subjective subject. As such, your questions should include some background and what you are trying to accomplish. If you wish to "eschew conventions quite deliberately," that should be part of your question. Absent that kind of detail, folks can only guess at what you are actually asking.

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