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  1. Rechan

    Rechan Member

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    Definition of a Hack Writer?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Rechan, Nov 23, 2011.

    I've seen the term "hack" tossed around in various places, but I've never really put together what the definition of it is, aside from "poor" or maybe "sellout".

    So what does being a hack involve?
     
  2. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It's a general term, I think, for a poor or untalented writer.

    But in the UK, "hack" is also a term for a journalist, so pay attention to context :)
     
  3. Cacian

    Cacian Banned

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    I can understand Rechan because the word hack carries an imagery of a hacker or a tool that is a hack, so it is confusing to then suddenly use it in a different context.
    It reminds of False Friends where you take on English then you take the exact same in French and guess what they mean two different things.
    I tend to avoid using words that carry two conflicting meanings.
    I am more of One Word One Meaning only. I keep it tidy or simple that way.
     
  4. Fullmetal Xeno

    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    What im gathering is that it means somebody who takes over another writer's work? that's my best guess.
     
  5. Prophetsnake

    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    I always understood it to mean a writer who was formulaic and unimaginative, only interested in producing what would sell without any regard to artistic content.
     
  6. Slinkywizard

    Slinkywizard Member

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    Going to have to disagree with you here Banzai; a hack in the writerly sense is an unoriginal, by-the-numbers writer as much here in the UK as it is anywhere else. I'm a journalist myself and work with dozens of others. Call any of them a hack and they'd not be talking to you for a while. ;)
     
  7. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Doesn't keep the rest of us from using it ;)

    In my job it's common parlance for journalist, and certainly within the Westminster bubble my interpretation is that it's a common term. Possibly not by the journalists, or to their faces though...
     
  8. Prophetsnake

    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    To be fair, with a lot of UK newspapers, bringing a hack into the fold would increase the talent level by several magnitudes. Someone left a copy of the Sun in my house the other day and it was too scary to use as bird cage lining.
    (Hope it's not the Sun you work for!)
     
  9. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    one old-time meaning is a writer who writes 'for hire'... just as 'hackie' is slang for a cab driver...
     
  10. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Which in turn presumably comes from "hackney cab"?
     
  11. Prophetsnake

    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    I don't think Hackney is slang for a cab driver. In the UK it is a definite type of taxi and the word hackney usually appears on the driver's photo ID. They are almost always the "Black cab" type and are different from 'minicabs', which are usually ordinary saloons (Sedans). the main difference between the two is that a hackney is allowed to pick up people as the wander the streets, are able to use taxi ranks at airports and train stations and such, wheras minicabs have to be ordered by phone or at their depot.


    More than you needed to know eh? ;)
     
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, a hack writer would be one who simply doesn't care about the quality of his writing. I don't mean one that writes for commercial success--you can write for commercial success and still strive to be quite good within the parameters of that goal. I mean one who simply doesn't care about being one whit better than he absolutely has to be.

    But that's just my interpretation; I'm not saying it's universal.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, a hack writer would be one who simply doesn't care about the quality of his writing. I don't mean one that writes for commercial success--you can write for commercial success and still strive to be quite good within the parameters of that goal. I mean one who simply doesn't care about being one whit better than he absolutely has to be.

    But that's just my interpretation; I'm not saying it's universal.
     
  14. ScreamsfromtheCrematory

    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    " hack writer" always made me think of writers who were popular but got their popularity through "pandering to the lowest common denominator" - shoddy overly-elaborate purple-prose, self-indulgent mary-sue esque characters, shallow vampire romance, various not-nice things people will say about Stephenie Meyer etc.
     
  15. Prophetsnake

    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    IOW about 90% of the stuff out there!
    In the film world even more.
     

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