If there's one thing that truly saddens me about being in a creative field like fiction writing, it's the overwhelming amount of people involved in it who seem more interested and content in being perceived as being in it that in actually doing it. It's as if the 1980s never ended and the perception of greatness means more than actual accomplishment. The internet has only given them more of a platform for their pretentions.
Non-writers don't always know the difference; to them, anybody who puts their name on something is the same as someone whose name was put their because they know what they're doing. However, there are way to spot hacks, time-tested signs and traits that have not been eradicated by the hopeful cluelessness of online chatter. Below, you'll find a list that was not developed exclusively by me because, unlike the people I'm writing about, I don't possess the godlike powers of all-knowing arrogance and certitude:
(In no particular order of importance or egregiousness)
Their sense of entitlement far exceeds their abilities. To quote another source, “It amazes me how some can be so sure they are better than others with no room for improvement.” Well, it astounds me. These people are borderline sociopaths, some not so borderline, who were obviously filled with unrealistic concepts of their own brilliance either by bad parenting or by surrounding themselves with others just like them. Half these people can't even string together a decent sentence, let alone use proper punctuation, but they're the first ones to criticize others and offer up their incoherent ramblings as proof of true greatness.
They always think you're the problem. To quote yet another source, “Hacks believe that the reader will 'get' what he or she is trying to do instead of actually writing for clarity (this encompasses grammar, puncutation, plot, story, characters, etc.) All I can add to that insight is that the mentality stretches beyond the reader to any attempts at editing as well. Everyone who has a dissenting viewpoint is a moron because, like, people didn't get that Picasso guy either!
They end to think everything they do is orignal, even when they acknowledge that they're doing something that's been done before. “Nobody's ever done it like this!” they rant. That's often because real professionals knew it was a bad idea.
They incorrectly believe there's no such thing as bad publicity. Per one source, “Hacks will trash other, more established authors for a little name recognition...Citing other authors and [publishing] companies as the reason they aren't published is another tactic along the same lines.” Let's clarify something that should beg no clarification: Writers are not gangster rappers or punk rockers. Instigating one-sided wars with people who are more powerful than you and don't care who you are is pointless, absurd, and the fastest track to obscurity. Unless you're looking to transform yourself into a self-publishing guru like JA Konrath whose income is greatly augmented by that status, I and all serious writers suggest you just shut the hell up and write.
They think we're interested in their need for therapy. I blame Eminem for this one. His insistence that his more controversial subject matter was a form of self-therapy surely lent credence to the idea for hack authors, too. If their family was dysfunctional or they have experienced a traumatic experience, we're expected to find that riveting. As one author put it, “The idea is to create a fiction that seems real, not make people read your therapy journal while you work out your Daddy issues.”
(This list will have a continuation at some point)