Sunday, October 29, 2006

To Thine Own Self Be True

Good advice - and apparently, some I haven't been taking. I had an epiphany last night as I geared up for NaNoWriMo. I was reading the book "No Plot, No Problem" by one of the NaNo founders, and there was an exercise in it that requires you to list some things that you think make a great novel, and some things that you hate. Once you've done that, you aren't allowed to let anything in the second list to creep into your nano book.

After I made my lists, I realized why I was having such trouble finishing a couple of my WIPs - I was not only writing outside my comfort zone, I was writing outside my "happy" zone. I'm neither a suspense nor mystery writer, so why have I been trying to write those stories? I rarely even read those types of books; occasionally, yes, but not often. This debate is nothing new; you can find it on most writers' blogs: do you write for yourself, or do you write for the market?

Mind you, I've known for a long time that we should "write what we like to read." But I still got lost along the way, since I'd noticed that most of the books that were selling were action, mystery and suspense; but the truth is, I like comedy.

I like fun, quirky characters. I like magic in books that makes you laugh, not magic that scares you to death. In fact, the story I just sold had magical characters, but they were fun. The suspense was whether the heroine would find the hero in time to make her wish come true -- no demons were chasing her, no one was murdered -- and I had fun writing it. The fact that it was accepted means there must still be some people out there who like reading those stories.

I have a WIP that I've put on hold for several months now, because I was afraid it might be a little too derivative, and that there might not be an audience for it. (You could say the high concept line for that one is "Bridget Jones goes to Hogwarts.") :) However, it's still one of my favorites - I love the characters and miss them. Another favorite is about a birthday fairy - I miss her, too. I think it's time to call them from the bench and put them into play. The vampires and werewolves can stick around, but they're going to have lighten up a bit if they want to play in my game.


  1. Kath, we think alike! This creeped into my last MM blog too. Bottom line, we came to same conclusion. Write for yourself. Genre slots are scarier to me than a ghost. I love the birthday fairy idea. How cool! Please give the world what's in your heart. I'm rooting for these stories of yours, ya know.

  2. Thanks, LaDonna. Was it you who said she was going to write what she wanted, and convince the audience to follow? I remembered that while I was writing this blog, and would have linked to it, but I read so darned many blogs that I couldn't remember who said it! Good advice, anyway. :)

    Of course, now this means I'm going to have lighten up the look of my website and blog. :) But that could be fun - rather like moving furniture around or buying new clothes after you've lost weight. :) (Of course, I can only speculate on that last one, unless one of my other boob wishes comes true! lol)

  3. Nope, that pearl came from our very own Michelle when she commented. She won the gold quote of the day on that one too! Sheesh, I have so got to quit blog-hopping and get some work yesterday! lol

  4. LOL - I hear you, LaDonna.
    Kudos to Michelle for the golden quote. :)

  5. That's the kicker. What to write. Some tell us to write what we like. Others to write what's selling. It's rather confusing, especially when you see the "big names" changing from genre to genre like monkeys on a tree. Makes you jealous, no? But personally I've come to recognize that I must write within my comfort zone.

  6. Thanks for the kudos, Rebecca :) I am a firm believer in writing what excites you. If its also what the market wants, great, but it will show in your writing if you are trying to squeeze yourself into a fashionable fit and the cut isn't right ;).

    PS Please write the birthday fairy book!

  7. You're most welcome, Michelle. Love the too tight fashion analogy. :)
    Well, looks like my the next WIP I'll finish is the fairy one - she's received four votes so far: two here and two via email. And I have to say, she's one of my favorite characters. She appeared to me in a dream and that started the process. She's also making a guest appearance in the piece I'm doing for NaNo. :)


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