Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Writer's Observations: What to write?

First, if you don't read  Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Business Musings blog post she does every Thursdays, do so, Go here: click on the "Business Resources" tab, and the Business Musing link is right at the top. She back to writing about the business of writing, and like her previous series, under the "Business Rusch" banner, I believe they are important topics from someone who knows the publishing business like few do. (Don't forget her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, who's website can be found here: He's just posted the first two chapters of his work in progress, HEINLEIN’S RULES: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing.)

Anyhow, the last couple of weeks, Kris has been discussing what a writer should write; Do you try and chase public opinion and write what is hot, or do you maintain your cool and write what you want to write?

My own view on the question is simple: Write what you want to write.

The problem with chasing what is hot is that trends will cool off, and what was big last month isn't this month. You can't chase after that's hot --- it's like a dog trying to track a rabbit, but being distracted by other smells, and running from one scent to another, only to be distracted by a stronger scent. All that's going to happen is the dog is going to get tired running to and fro and won't find the rabbit.

To chase after what is hot simply because it's hot is a fool's errand. Unless you like the sub-genre in question (Say, for example Vampire Romance), writing is going to be a pain. You have to waste time reading novels from the genre, to get a feel for it, work out the plot so it fits the genre, write in a style that fits the genre, then publish it, all the while hoping the fan-base hasn't moved onto Werewolf Romance in the meantime. Of course, if Vampire Romance is a genre you like, it because easier to write that sort of story, just don't expect to beat Twilight novels in sales.

Which leads me to the following statement --- "The best-selling writers don't follow trends: they set them."

Simply put, those writers set the trends, while others follow along, trying to grab onto the coat-tails of those trend-setters. For every unique novel setting a trend, you have half a dozen, a dozen, a score of authors putting out their own version of that original novel. The Harry Potter novels are a prime example, as are the Twlight novels. Look into each genre, and you'll see others trying to capture the same magic (and money) as those big-name novels. Some succeed, most fail.

But unless you like writing that genre, it's more chore than craft. Writing something you don't like to read is a chore. A woodworker who doesn't like working with wood will produce crappy wood items -- the parts will be uneven, the legs won't be the same length, and the pieces put together poorly. Same thing with any other craft work -- unless you like it, the product produce will always be inferior to someone who loves what they do.

The same thing applies to writing -- unless you love reading the genre, writing in that genre will be a waste of time. The product will be inferior, and time, money and energy spent working on it will be wasted. It also starts to burn out the creative juices as you try to force yourself to write without enthusiasm. Do it enough times and you become an ex-writer or a failed writer.

If I can't generate any enthusiasm for a story, I won't write it, simple as that. The two Outcast Ops novels I co-wrote were a task, but if I had not enjoyed the genre, I wouldn't have been able to hold up my end of the partnership. That's why anything I write and publish is something I loved to do, be it genre or universe. No sparkling vampires, no bodice-rippers, and no profound slice of life novels for me. That isn't me.

Well enough trying to sound profound --- Kris does it much better, so go read what she has to say.....

Short update on The Assassin Prince; Nothing new on the outline, but some thoughts about the background has been percolating. The fun thing about fantasy novels is that you can take bits and pieces from different times and places, mix them together and produce a unique civilization for your story. I'm already considering parts of the Roman Empire, 15th-17th Century Europe, and 15th Century China, with sprinkling from other eras. Nothing firm yet, needs to brew a bit more. In the meantime, I'm working on Battlecorps stories to sooth my writing urges.

If you want to read the novels I co-authored, African Firestorm is on Amazon and is part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm on Amazon! For those over the pond in the UK, click here! If you want to read Red Ice, it's also part of Kindle Direct program: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Go here!