For all that there tends to be reams and reams written on writing craft, and how that relates to a work being “good”, I think the function of id gets overlooked a lot. And part of the reason is I think, historically, SFF writing’s id has been… invisibilized, in a way? Like, there’s an Assumed SFF Id and where works cater to that id, the “iddishness” of them isn’t remarked on.

And it’s only sort of recently that works that deviate from that model (which is very straight, very white, very middle-class, very male, and very UK-/US-centric) have gotten any kind of substantive traction.

I think one of the issues is that writing craft has a kind of objective element to it. Like, writer voice varies but at some fundamental level things like prose, theme, structure and so on can be analysed as being either “good” or “bad”.

But a work can be “good” (i.e. have solid craft) but still not work for any one reader because the id doesn’t line up, and id is purely subjective; either a trope is Your Bag Baby or it’s not.

Ditto the other way around: a work can have… not great craft (or even outright lousy craft), but still be adored because it hits 110% of all a reader’s id-buttons.

The problem is I think a lot of reviewing/analysis/etc. of published works is not very good at making this distinction. Which is why you get the, “Ugh, how did this get published?” argument. (Spoiler: because it hit people’s ids enough in a way that translates into cold, hard cash.)

And, on the flip side, you get situations where people write very iddish works that do very well in their particular market, thinking that they’re “good writers” who no longer have anything to learn about craft. When that is… obviously not the case, ref. their actual works.

And, like. This isn’t saying that anyone should tone down their ids; some of the most successful and lauded works in history are just so obviously raw belching idfests. But rather, don’t mistake id for craft, and don’t assume that just because you’re good at craft, your id is for everyone, or that if you’re good at it, your craft is on-point.

(This post brought to you by a bunch of things I’ve seen and done recently, all freezing together in my brain this cold winter morning. Thanks for coming to my toot talk.)