I write pulp. It’s true, I’m not looking to win any literary awards. My characters don’t necessarily change and grow a great deal over the course of the story. My writing is plot-driven and the point of it is what happens, not necessarily what people feel.
Sure, emotions come into it. Clearly, when Jasper comes to the realisation that his daughter is very far away and in severe danger he has emotions, fear, panic, etc.
Sometimes those emotions are even important to the story, sometimes my characters face depression, sorrow, panic, all kinds of things that get in the way of them achieving their goals. Hell, sometimes overcoming that is something that is driving the plot a little bit.
Make no mistake, however, the threats Jasper is facing are much more material than existential. The zombies that keep trying to eat him, the psychotic ex-soldier that wants him dead, those things are the threat. His depression, his fear, those are obstacles to overcome just like that cliff face that needs to be climbed to get away.
That’s why what I write is pulp; because it’s not about the inner struggle of the characters, it’s about the very real threats that surround them, that are trying to kill them day to day. That doesn’t mean my characters don’t have to be good, that they don’t have to have voices that sound real, that resonate. They need to be good characters, in fact, if anything they need to be better characters. They have to be interesting from minute one, they have to have motivations that make sense to the reader without knowing exactly what happened during their childhood. I can’t rely on the prose I write to make my characters better, they have to be good right away.
Pulp has a special place in my heart, because to me pulp is the better writing. I use pulp as a way not just of escaping the day to day, but of exploring it. When we see extremes that can help us better understand day to day life.
To me, fantasy, science fiction, the stories of ideas are there as ways of exploring what it means to be human, in a way that a million novels about navel-gazing and dealing with your feelings about your mother never can. See, in pulp, specifically in the more action-oriented genre’s like science fiction and fantasy, we are seeing people being pushed to their limits. Sure, they aren’t real people, but they are what a real person sees real people acting like.
That’s part of why I have no shame about writing pulp, quite the opposite. I love pulp, I take pride in it, I want to write things that many people want to read, and that actually say something about the world, about the human condition, without being incredibly boring. I want to write things I would read, things that I might even stay up late to finish, because I want to know what happens, I want to reach that ending.
I am a pulp fiction writer and I’m proud of that fact.