Furry Writers' Guild Forum

A ? posed on Twitter: Importance of furry lit?

Yesterday while casually browsing furry Twitters, I came across a question about the importance of furry literature, https://twitter.com/Marks_Barks/status/1094864071214682112


I have a question for everyone, I have been writing stories within the community for years. I have been somewhat let down in the past and I wanted to get other peoples opinions. Do you think that writing as an art form is valued in the furry community or not?
11:41 PM - 10 Feb 2019

It was followed by about forty replies. It might be worth a few minutes to read and see what both writers and others on Twitter have said in reply.

A couple of examples:

2h2 hours ago

Replying to @Marks_Barks

Is it valuable? Yes. Is it valued? I don’t honestly believe writers are appreciated enough, and I am guilty of this too.

Our culture has become so visually and audibly driven, if something can’t be enjoyed quickly it seems to just be tossed aside.

4h4 hours ago

Replying to @Marks_Barks

It is valued, but not nearly as much as art, because the fandom has a heavy emphasis on the visual medium. The fandom is sort of based on imagination and fantasy; writing as a medium forces us to use our imagination to create the images in our head, so it’s still imagination[/i]

I replied to them last night.

In a nutshell, I answered “probably not” to the question does the fandom find value in writing. But then I turned around and asked where do you, the writer find value?

I read through this thread and something that was said really hit a nerve for me. It got me thinking anyway, a lot. And that’s never a good thing :wink:
The gist of the post that tweaked me was “Furry artists post their stuff and it gets all this praise, but I post a story and “they” all critique me on my style”

Can’t really get this out of my head, mostly because its important to me that furry literature has value, and I believe it does. But that one statement is IMO very telling about why it might not be perceived that way… yet.

Furry fandom has a high percentage of amazing visual artists, but none of them got there without a TON of hard work. A visual artist practices pretty much non stop. it’s obsessive- thousands of drawings of just paws to get them “right” sketches of expressions, rigorous training, even when it’s self led. They study. Holy cow do they study! They read books, they observe other artists, they watch youtube tutorials til their eyes bleed. In short, they live to learn their craft. They learn their craft. A new artist who is not up to quality yet gets TONS of critique when thy post their work. I’ve seen it, and it’s pretty harsh/blunt. But they work work work and improve. They don’t excuse away crit with “that’s just my style” and if they do, they don’t last long. There is an extremely high standard of excellence expected from furry visual art. Period. They bust ass to get there, and they keep each other on task to get “up to quality.”

You probably know where this is going, but let me say that the issue I see is not limited to our fandom even a little. In fact, I’d say its epidemic among all writers and I’ve seen it even more outside the fandom. but…

Using the word “craft” in reference to writing is often treated like a dirty word. You get so many 'how dare you suggest my writing could be better" responses that sometimes its not even worth fighting. A vast majority (present guild members excluded, you’re here right? we’re trying) but a huge percentage in my experience write stories and post them without ever reading a book on craft, watching a video on craft or business, or joining a crit group. Many resent any kind of feedback and there’s a core belief that writing is art so it doesn’t have rules. Well, it doesn’t. But it does have professional standards, and I guarantee that readers and potential readers can feel when a story isn’t there, especially if its not even close. Visual artist don’t get around to “my style” until well after they’ve learned the basics of composition, line, light, anatomy… it goes on and on. Yet the average furry (and x genre of your choice) writer is incensed if you suggest their craft needs work. The expectation is, I wrote a thing, I finished it and posted it, you may adore it now.

Most of the people in the twitter thread mentioned that they had read furry books, authors I’d consider very high quality who are writing at a professional level. Perhaps, instead of bemoaning the lack of respect/value for furry literature, we could focus on elevating our writing/literature to a level worthy of value and respect. Just saying that will piss people off though. Think about that. Saying our work should be of high quality gets a knee jerk “how dare you” response… ??? I guarantee the visual arts, music and costuming branches of the fandom are focused on always getting better. Always getting better.

Many of us are too.
In fact, it’s usually the ones who have already put in the work, who are close or at pro level, and who are finding readers, who still believe they need to be improving and working on craft. Not at the expense of "style’ but as a foundation to it. Always be getting better, study books on writing, read critically, talk to other writers, crit groups, workshops. We have the tools to be always striving to improve.

And I believe when the right quantity of the right quality of literature is available, then valuing it will follow naturally.

But right now, if you hold up the average furry literature post against the average furry art post, it’s pretty clear were not where they are… yet. I wish we could spend less time envious of that and more time looking to them as an example of how to get there.

Interesting. Didn’t read every reply (there’s well more than forty by now), but it seemed like the most consistent response was something to the effect of, “It is valued, but should be valued more.” I know fandom writers always say that when they complain about the state of writing in the fandom, though, so I’m curious how many of those who responded to this query are themselves writers. Regardless, it’s kind of nice to see. Like, maybe people don’t read, but at least they feel bad about that?

Frances: that’s quite the sensitive nerve that comment struck.

I admit, I haven’t read enough furry fiction to make general comments like this about the level of quality, and its impact on the appreciation of writing in the fandom. I have read some handful of short stories by you folks in the Thursday chats, a couple anthologies, and I’ve read some of the more popular works, from folks like Kyell Gold, and I see a pretty wide array of skill even in professional publications. But I wonder how much of that is just the size of the pond. The furry fandom feels like a small town; I remember, in the place where I grew up, it didn’t take that much talent to impress pretty much everyone, because the small size of it meant that talent was a relatively rare thing to come by. I’m sure there’s a similar effect here, for writers especially because we are so much rarer a breed than, e.g., visual artists. And there’s a lot that comes with that, including, maybe, a healthy dose of Dunning-Kruger? I certainly used to think I was the hot sh**, at least until I went to grad school and discovered just how terrible I am at pretty much everything I try to do.

I can’t comment on the tendency (or lack thereof) to reject criticism, though, in either the writing or visual art communities. All I can say is I feel like there’s a lot of emphasis on being supportive of each other in the writing community, and sometimes it concerns me that maybe it overtakes our tendency to self-reflect and criticize. But that’s just a feeling I get.

A very good point about the size of the pond, and to be clear I believe we have some amazing talent and skill in the furry writing pool. I’m proud to be a furry writer and a huge fan of many of “our” writers.

I think the sensitive nerve is a crossover from my work with new writers in all genres. I’ve taught classes at writer’s workshops and been on so many panels they all blur together. But I’ve had people storm out in a huff when I even suggested that a writer should consider if their craft is ready before publishing, and I’ve seen way too many people justify poor grammar and poor writing with 'style."
So yeah, my post wasn’t aimed at the person who tweeted that really. Their work could be amazing and the style thing could absolutely be valid.

But in the general, ‘state of furry literature’ angle. I definitely think we’d do well to elevate the genre and if we are comparing ourselves to our visual artists… well, as someone who spent four years in fine art school and was completely intimidated by it, I think our artists are insanely good… and I’ve ghosted some of their groups and boards and they definitely hold each other to a standard. So suggesting they don’t get criticized is a little out there.

And I also felt like the resounding answer on that thread was yeah, its of value, but it could be more valued. It seemed like a pretty positive response all in all.

I’ve posted as both a writer and as an artist, and while they’re VERY different experiences, “critique” has never been the difference. Maybe in my case it’s because I’m a fairly good writer and only a middling artist? But I get just as much if not more critique and negative feedback on my drawing or fursuit posts as I ever have on my stories. (And frankly, the idea that artists don’t get critique makes me laugh. Spend some time around artists, you’ll find vociferous opinions about art, craft, solicited and unsolicited critique, people arguing for support, people insisting on their “style”, all that stuff is right there.)

I feel the real difference has to do with investment.

A person can invest very little in an artist in order to follow them. Glance at a picture and you’ve appreciated it, ta-da! It took half a second. Maybe it’ll take a whole minute if you want to really let the details sink in.

A story, though, requires considerably more time investment in order to appreciate and enjoy, so while one fan can easily follow and keep up with the complete output of hundreds of artists, they will quickly become overwhelmed and unable to read everything that’s posted after following just a comparative handful of writers.

There are only so many potential fans, and only so many hours in the day. It’s just simple math. So any given writer will have a harder time gathering a large number of invested followers than will a given artist of similar skill level.

It was worthwhile indeed! Thank you for letting us know. I was well pleased to see several of our esteemed fellow Guild members and forum peeps contributing to the conversation. As well as stumping for our books. <3


Furry is very much an artist’s fandom. It’s a visual thing for the most part, so writers are fighting that harder than they might have to in other groups. That doesn’t mean it isn’t valued, but it tends to be a very different audience.