Write what you like?

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Everyone’s heard the saying “Write what you know”, but more recently writing teachers and experts have been saying “Write what you like”. For a long while I’ve been taking this to heart and writing the genre of stories I most liked to read. Mostly light comedy love stories with fantasy elements. I liked reading comedy. I liked reading light romance. I liked reading fantasy. So, if I put these three genres together, I should be writing the best stories I could be writing, right?

img_0257Unfortunately, I’ve hit a awful lot of speed bumps along the way. The first one was comedy, I like reading it, but it’s a lot harder to write than it looks. Just because I think it’s funny doesn’t mean everyone else will. Romance was the next problem, my personal experience with romance has been pretty boring. I’ve never been in a relationship where someone vowed undying devotion or gave some grand gesture of affection. My life has been filled with little sparks of gentle warmth, endearing, but note exactly page turner moments. Writing fantasy has been my smallest struggle. My problem with fantasy is that I’m usually trying so hard to be original that my story just becomes kind of weird.

The end result of my writing attempts is usually good, but not as good as I wish it was. Strangely, my horror stories have been widely critiqued as being really good, much better than my fantasy stories. But I don’t really like reading horror that much. In fact, it’s been years since I’ve read a horror book.

IMG_0242So, when should an author consider changing their preferred genre? Should a writer write a certain genre just because they are good at it? Or should an author stay with their favorite genre to read no matter how long it takes them to become good at writing it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment below.

 

P.S. I just added the photos because I thought they looked cool, no special meaning.

Writers of a different league

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I was recently reading an older issue of Writer’s Digest and I happened upon the article “Short Stories Big Rewards”. It was a pretty informative piece, so if you can find a copy of Writer’s Digest: Writer’s Yearbook 2017, I highly recommend it. But the part that I latched onto and couldn’t seem to let go, wasn’t really about the short writing format, or even how to use short stories to boost your writing career, it was the couple paragraphs mentioning Hugh Howey.

Of course, I’ve heard of him before and his famous “Wool” book, but what I hadn’t heard was the story behind the publishing of his book. According to the article Howey said, “That’s it . . . I made the work available and did zero promotion for it.”

Seriously?!

book shelf 2He just plopped his book onto Amazon Kindle and he’s insta-famous?! How on Earth is that fair? I slave over my books. I spend hours just plotting new ways to get the word out about my writing, and I get nowhere. Howey put his work out there and walks away and the reading world pounces on it like a half starved cougar.

And then a sneaking suspicion crept into my thoughts and I realized I’d had this same experience before. Back when I was studying for my Fine Arts degree, I remember meeting people like Howey.

In my studio art classes I did pretty well. Well enough to get good grades. I demonstrated the techniques taught and I used them as they were supposed to be used. My paintings and drawing were very correct. They were good, but not great. But every class had at least one student who’s work was truly great. It didn’t matter what they were painting, every brush stroke was mesmerizing. No matter how hard I studied or practiced, I could never match these students . Even with all my skills, there was always something my paintings lacked. The difference between them and me was a difference between skill and talent. Skill can make you correct, but it can never make you great. img_0235

I have a funny feeling that Howey has some serious talent, and unfortunately there isn’t any writing manual for that.

Writer in waiting

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To wait or not to wait, that is the question.

Finally, I’m coming up to the end of writing my fourth book My Bloody Revenge! and I really want to edit it right away. The only problem is I already know I do a much better job editing if I wait for a while first. In fact, the longer I wait the better I seem to do editing my own writing. A great example of that is my book It’s a stony road through Hell, I actually wrote the book years ago. I didn’t rediscover my old story until recently, and then a few months ago I edited it and published it. And hands down, it’s the best edit job I’ve ever done on my own writing.

img_0235When I compare my earlier books (that I didn’t wait to edit) to “ISRTH”, the difference is so obvious. After editing It’s a stony road through Hell, the plot was really clear, the main character had personality without being over the top, and the imagery supported the emotional environment of the main character really well. When I was done editing ISRTH, I read through my manuscript and thought, “Yep, that’s the story I wanted to tell.”

My earlier books were edited pretty good, but It’s a stony road through Hell was edited so much better.

I know that my work really shines when I give it time to age and polish it, but waiting is so hard! I want to see my books published right now. I want to share my stories while I’m still excited about them.

Does anyone have a tip or suggestion on how to not edit your book when your fingers are justa itchin’ for some editin’? If you do, please leave them in the comments area below!