UPDATE Feb 13 : Check out my blog post over at Independent Bookworm: Reading to Improve Your Writing
Hubby and I made a trip to our nearest “big city” yesterday. Borders is now closed, but Books A Million bought the store and it is almost the same as if Borders were still there. In some ways, I like it better. I don’t buy as many books as I used to before my Kindle, but I browsed for a while and came home with a cookbook and two cozy paperback mysteries. Very different from the books I am writing. One mystery is titled If Fried Chicken Could Fly by Paige Shelton. It’s one of those mysteries that have recipes in the back. I’m a sucker for mystery books with recipes. I like cozy mysteries. I like to cook. So, why don’t I write one and include some of my recipes?
If Fried Chicken Could Fly–or How Do You Choose What to Write?
Conventional writing wisdom and advice from the experts tell me to write always in the same genre. Hmmm. Then I read about very successful authors that write different types of books. Granted some of those writers use pen names, but some don’t. One thing they have in common is that they are usually prolific.
I’m not prolific. Does that mean that I should stick to one genre?
I have written five books ( two written long, long ago are unpublishable as they now exist). One is currently available: A Singular Gift, which is a magical fantasy. Another is a light romance, a reprint of a book which I wrote and sold to a romance publishing company many years ago, A Man For Sylvia, which will be on Amazon within a couple of weeks. One is a rough draft sequel to A Singular Gift and is called A Singular Chance. The books I am working on now are best described as magical realism fantasy for all ages. I have one more book in the Singular series to be written, then I’m off to another idea. (You can read an interview with me about A Singular Gift here.)
I also have several books more science fiction than fantasy in the wings waiting their turn. In my idea file I have tidbits for different styles and different genres. After I finish this series what shall I write next?
There are so many genres and I like to read in several. Bits and pieces of ideas float around in my head. What if? runs through my mind and I jot down notes about another possibility. Why don’t I write cozy mysteries? I enjoy reading them. I do have two different series ideas for cozy mystery books, based on two different characters. I even wrote the first two to three pages for the first two books in one set. However, after I read them over, neither read like a cozy mystery. They were a bit dark and had gruesome villains. I set them aside and worked on my fantasies. Will I pick them up again? At this point, no, but maybe in the future, I’ll come back to them and work on them again.
I never throw away an idea. I just never get back to the ones that don’t interest me anymore. But what if the ideas that do keep my interest are from different genres?
So, how do I choose what next to write? For right now, I’m alternating between science fiction and fantasy. These genres are so related, some books blend elements of both, as Andre Norton’s books did. I have five books ideas that do just that. Here’s what I’m going to do. I will take those five ideas and lay them out before me. The book that tugs at me most strongly will be the winner of my little contest. And those other books that are wildly different from those I’m writing now? I’ll let those slosh around in the back recesses of my mind. Maybe someday. Maybe next year those cozy mysteries will flow from my fingers and make their way out into the world.
I don’t really care what the experts say because I don’t write to make a living. I write because I want to. It’s a wonderful feeling to know readers enjoy my books, but that’s icing on the cake. I would write anyway.
How DO you choose what to write?
My advice, for what it’s worth: First, look at what you enjoy reading. Second, what characters and scenes float around in your head? Do you hear your characters talking to you? (For you non-writers, no, writers aren’t nuts!)
Start with the idea that really pulls you in, not with what you hear is selling well. If you write a vampire romance because you think they sell and you hate vampires and you even hate romance, then your book will stink and you will hate writing it. If you sell it, you will feel sucked into writing another book you hate. Soon you are despising writing and hating every minute of it. Then what’s the point of writing? Go with what you love.
How do YOU choose?