Writers chase their authorial dreams online

Updated: 2013-10-10 07:41

By Yang Yang (China Daily)

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Self-improvement is key 

Knocked out at a speed of 5,000 to 10,000 characters a day, without editing, the stories on professional online literature platforms have been the subject of rigorous criticism, especially their poor language and illogical plotting. Now, online writers are trying to improve their creations through extensive reading.

Zuo Lei is a full-time online writer. He works seven to eight hours a day at most and spends the rest of his time recharging his batteries. "I can write more than 10,000 characters a day, but I choose not to because it's too exhausting. Usually I work four to five hours a day. If the work is not good enough, I will revise it, but my total working time doesn't exceed eight hours," he said.

In his leisure time, Zuo tries to take in information and ideas by reading and watching movies and TV news programs. Because he specializes in fantasy, he spends a lot of time studying Western fantasies such as A Song of Ice and Fire and The Lord of the Rings.

"Now when I go out to the street, I automatically observe the passersby, their styles of dress, their speech and behavior. Sometimes I can get inspiration from them," he said.

Yang Hao, a popular online writer who uses the pen name Sanjiedashi, which means Master of Three Commandments, has developed the habit of reading historical materials, especially those about the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the period in which he usually sets his stories. One of his favorite books is The Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government by Si Maguang, a writer from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

"I love books in classical Chinese. I also love the operas in South China, such as the oldest extant form, Kunqu Opera," he said.

- Yang Yang


First person | Yang Hao

Editor's note: Yang Hao, whose nom de plume is Sanjiedashi (Master of Three Commandments), began writing historical novels online in 2008. He is one of the few Chinese online writers to earn a six-digit annual income.

I believe that the works on professional online literature platforms are completely market-oriented commercial creations, so there's no need for them to reach the high levels of serious literature, like the works of Lu Xun, the leading figure in modern Chinese literature.

We have to satisfy fun-seeking readers. As a result, we writers, especially at the very beginning, have to suppress our desires so we can cater to the readers' needs. However, we have not lost our ideals and gradually, when the time is ripe, we will let ourselves go.

It's my belief that online writing must not be vulgar, kitsch or advocate money-worship. It will be enough if our writings can warm and touch people. There's no need for us to deliberately try to be as profound as Tolstoy, because we will live a very hard life if we do.

I always position myself as a commercial writer and I don't see why that's not a good thing. Why should we separate online literature from literature as a whole? Why do we think online literature is so different from traditional writing? I think it's wrong to separate them.

The great novels in history were mainly created to entertain people, not to be profound or great. I think the online novel is a real return to the traditional mode of literary creation.

Yang Hao was talking to Yang Yang.

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