Hey, folks! Donna Cummings is back with us this week, sharing some of her awesome wisdom. The floor is yours, madame!
Write What You. . .
We’ve all heard this sentence, in a variety of ways, and I thought it would be fun to look at some of them in a little more detail.
Write What You Know
We’ve all heard this one so many times that I’m pretty sure everyone’s brain automatically filled in the last word when they read the blog post title. It’s good advice, because if we were to write about things we didn’t know, it could get a little messy.
Unfortunately, the things I find the most interesting are things I don’t know much about. If I’m doing something already, it’s not likely I’ll want to explore it in my stories. It’s nice to have insider information, so I can sound authoritative when it counts. But it’s not always intriguing to write about the things I do on a daily basis. If it was all that interesting, I doubt I’d feel the urge to write fiction.
Write What the Market Wants
Actually, the majority of advice is the opposite of this, based on the fact that trends fade quickly, and in the distant past (like, a couple years ago), it took forever for a book to be published. Which meant that the trend was over before you got to jump on that wave and ride it in to the bank. Nowadays, with ebooks, it’s easier to be part of the trends while they’re still desirably trendy.
However, I can’t seem to make this work for me. There are even times in my writing sojourn that I’ve felt like a trend assassin. For example, I was a Golden Heart finalist in the Traditional Regency category a lot of years ago. About five minutes after that, traditional Regencies died out. Seriously died out. Publishers quit publishing them, even though Jane Austen movies were at the height of their popularity. RWA even killed off the category that I’d finaled in, just a couple years later. Sexier Regencies were becoming popular, and since I liked them, I wrote one, and then all of a sudden, historical romances were on the wane while contemporaries became all the rage. I switched to writing those, but only because I had an idea for a story that I loved, and. . . I don’t have to yell “spoiler alert”, do I?
Luckily for me, I love writing in all those different subgenres. (You can also see why I’m glad I ignored the advice to “Write One Thing and Stick With It”.) I can continue to write stories that I love and seesaw back and forth with what the market seems to want without worrying about killing another trend.
Write What You Love
You’ll hear this a lot too. It takes courage to go this route, since there’s no guarantee that anyone will love your books the same way you do. But that’s true of anything that makes your heart beat faster. I create a lot of handmade cards, and I teach classes so that others can learn the techniques I know, and it never fails to surprise me when people adore a card that I consider an afterthought. The one I’m positive they’ll love? I tweeted recently about my ability to predict the future: I always know when gas prices are going down–it’s two days after I fill up my tank.
It’s the same way with my books. I can pour my heart and soul into a story and the characters, and hope that others will connect with them in the same way that I did. But a reader brings along a completely unknowable set of desires and expectations when they read a book. Something I find hilarious or sexy may strike someone else as dull or yecchy, and it is likely to be the very same thing another reader loves and raves about to their friends.
Ask yourself: Does writing this story make you want to run to the laptop each morning so you can get back to the characters? Does it make you cackle with glee whenever you think of something diabolical to do to them on the way to their HEA? Does it make you wish you could turbocharge your pen so you could scribble the words even faster?
Then I definitely advocate that you. . .
Write What You Want
As a reader, the books I enjoy the most are those that make me forget I’m a writer. I love to get caught up in what is happening to the characters, desperate to go every step of the way with them, unable to analyze how the magic is being performed before my very eyes. This only happens when an author writes the story they love, the way they want to write it, without worrying about all the rules, or trends, or how it might be received by the reader. Nine times out of ten, it’s an indie book that makes me feel this way.
So go on. Write that book that won’t leave you alone. I can’t wait to read it.
I know I’m not the only one.
I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.
I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.
Back on Track, my contemporary novella set on the Napa Wine Train, released last month from Samhain. Also available is I Do. . . or Die, a romantic comedy/mystery, Summer Lovin’, a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency historical romance.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/donna-cummings