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Encyclopedia > Hack writer

Hack writer is a colloquial, usually pejorative, term used to refer to a writer who is paid to write low-quality, quickly put-together articles or books "to order", often with a short deadline. In a fiction-writing context, the term is used to describe writers who are paid to churn out sensational, lower-quality "pulp" fiction such as "true crime" novels or "bodice ripping" erotic paperbacks. In journalism, the term is used to describe a writer who is deemed to operate as a "mercenary" or "pen for hire", expressing their client's political opinions in pamphlets or newspaper articles. So-called "hack writers" are usually paid by the number of words in their book or article; as a result, hack writing has a reputation for quantity taking precedence over quality. A colloquialism is an informal expression, that is, an expression not used in formal speech or writing. ... A word or phrase is pejorative if it implies contempt or disapproval. ... The term writer can apply to anyone who creates a written work, but the word more usually designates those who write creatively or professionally, or those who have written in many different forms. ... Eroticism is an aesthetic focused on sexual desire, especially the feelings of anticipation of sexual activity. ... Polish soldiers reading a German leaflet during the Warsaw Uprising A pamphlet is an unbound booklet (that is, without a hard cover or binding). ...



The term "hack writer" began being used in the 1700s, "...when publishing was establishing itself as a business employing writers who could produce to order." [1] The derivation of the term "hack" was a "...shortening of hackney, which described a horse that was easy to ride and available for hire."[2]In 1728, Alexander Pope wrote The Dunciad, which was a satire of "the Grub-street Race" of commercial writers who worked in Grub Street, a London district that was home to a bohemian counterculture of impoverished writers and poets. In the late 1800s, Anthony Trollope's novel The Way We Live Now (1875) depicts a female hack writer whose career was built on social connections rather than writing skill. [2] Alexander Pope, an English poet best known for his Essay on Criticism and Rape of the Lock Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the early eighteenth century, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. ... Grub Street is the former name of the present day Milton Street, London, EC2. ... Bohemians are inhabitants of Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. ... Anthony Trollope (April 24, 1815 – December 6, 1882) became one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. ...

A number of writers who subsequently became famous authors had to work as low-paid hack writers early in their careers, or during a downturn in their fortunes. As a young man, Anton Chekhov had to support his family by writing short newspaper articles; Arthur Koestler penned a dubious Dictionary of Sexuality for the popular press; Samuel Beckett translated for the French Reader's Digest; and William Faulkner churned out Hollywood scripts.[2] The house in Taganrog where Chekhov was born Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Russian: , IPA: ) was a Russian physician, short story writer, and playwright. ... Arthur Koestler (September 5, 1905, Budapest – March 3, 1983, London) was a Hungarian polymath who became a naturalized British subject. ... Samuel Barclay Beckett (13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish dramatist, novelist and poet. ...

A number of films have depicted hack writers, perhaps because the way these authors are "prostituting" their creative talents makes them an interesting character study. In the film adaptation of Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949), author Graham Greene added a hard-drinking hack writer named Holly Martins. In the film Sunset Boulevard (1950) a Hollywood hack screenwriter named Joe Gillis pays his bills by becoming a gigolo. In Jean-Luc Godard's film Contempt (1964), a hack screenwriter is paid to doctor a script. In the 2000s film Adaptation., Spike Jonze depicts an ill-educated character named Donald Kaufman who finds he has a knack for churning out cliché-filled movie scripts.[2] Sir Carol Reed (30 December 1906 – 25 April 1976) was an English film director, winner of an Academy Award for his film version of the musical, Oliver! (1968). ... The Third Man (1949) is a British film noir directed by Carol Reed. ... Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH (October 2, 1904 – April 3, 1991) was a great English playwright, novelist, short story writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. ... It has been suggested that Norma Desmond be merged into this article or section. ... ... Contempt (original French title Le Mépris, Italian title Il Disprezzo) is a film released in 1963, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. ... Adaptation. ...

Current usage

The term "hack" has been adopted by UK journalists as a form of humorous, self-deprecating self-description. An example of the UK usage is in the media mogul/journalist character in the theatrical comedy Restart[3] by the Komedy Kollective. The term was popularized in the UK by Private Eye, which refers to male journalists as "hacks" and female journalists as "hackettes". This does not cite any references or sources. ... For other usages see Theatre (disambiguation) Theater (American English) or Theatre (British English and widespread usage among theatre professionals in the US) is that branch of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle &#8212... Comedy has a classical meaning (comical theatre) and a popular one (the use of humour with an intent to provoke[[ laughter in general). ... In computing, booting is a bootstrapping process that starts operating systems when the user turns on a computer system. ... Private eye may mean: Look up Private eye on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Private Eye a fortnightly British satirical magazine-newspaper, edited by Ian Hislop (as of 2005) A private investigator, a private detective for hire (see also crime fiction and detective fiction) Private Eye, a song by Alkaline Trio...

See also

  • Grub Street
  • Ghostwriter, a writer who is paid to write books or articles that are credited to another person
  • Essay mill, a ghostwriting service that provides university students with essays and term papers for a fee

Grub Street is the former name of the present day Milton Street, London, EC2. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... An essay mill, sometimes also called a paper mill, is a business, usually online, which dishonestly sells essays and other forms of homework assignments to students who are unable or unwilling to do it themselves. ...


  1. ^ Robert Fulford. "When hacks attract: Serious artists are drawn to tales of mercenary scribes. In The National Post, 19 August 2003. Available at: http://www.robertfulford.com/2003-08-19-hacks.html
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ http://www.komedykollective.com/id8.html Restart (the musical version)]

  Results from FactBites:
ooBdoo (311 words)
A writer may compose in many different forms, including (but not limited to) poetry, prose, or music.
Writers' output frequently contributes to the cultural content of a society, and that society may value its writerly corpus -- or literature -- as an art much like the visual arts (see: painting, sculpture, photography), music, craft and performance art (see: drama, theatre, opera, musical).
For instance, advertising creatives, gag-writers and graffiti artists also refer to themselves as "writers." In these contexts, "writer" may be considered an alternative use of the term, rather than describing a so-called "literary" or "serious" writer as discussed above.
hack - definition by dict.die.net (736 words)
Hack writer, a hack; one who writes for hire.
Hack saw, a handsaw having a narrow blade stretched in an iron frame, for cutting metal.
They include `happy hacking' (a farewell), `how's hacking?' (a friendly greeting among hackers) and `hack, hack' (a fairly content-free but friendly comment, often used as a temporary farewell).
  More results at FactBites »



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