Don't Write This (part 2)

Hello, and welcome to the RADblog! I sincerely hope you enjoyed the month of September, and my Character Creation 102 series. If you have anything else you’d like me to cover in the realm of character creation, please leave a comment and let me know! The RADblog is, as always, designed as a way to help writers grow in their craft, to keep them informed about the changing world of publishing, and to have a lot of fun along the way.

This month, I thought we’d talk a bit about the saturated world of publishing, and discuss a few genres and book types I think you’re better off not writing at all. Now, it’s not to say that you can’t write in these genres or that you can’t possibly do well with them, but to give you a little bit of an idea into what publishers might be looking for, and, by extension, what readers are looking for.

 

#2: Saturated Nonfiction Topics

 

Unlike last week’s topic, this one is a bit broader—but it remains in a similar vein by noting what the readers are really looking for, when they head to the nonfiction section.

They’re looking for history, okay? History, the sciences, and religious studies.

What aren’t they looking for?

Self-help.

Why?

Because the field is completely saturated. There are literal millions of writers out there who only write self-help, whose focus is completely on books that are designed to help their readers get from point A to point B through this magic method the writer has found throughout their life. We don’t need any more of those. We really don’t. Most of the time, readers aren’t even looking for things like that anymore.

 

See, self-help books were a trend in the nineties and noughties, and one that went away almost as quickly as it begun. It was fueled by diet fads and the topics for dummies books, and while in many ways it was a boom for the writers in this genre, it also quickly became somewhere where new writers just can’t get themselves seen.

I’m not denying that some readers still gravitate toward self-help nonfiction. In fact, I know very well that they do. The trouble is, the majority of these readers know exactly what they’re looking for. They know exactly who they’re looking for. They came to the bookstore (or went online) looking for a very specific self-help book, one of which they know the author (and have likely read the author before).

Of course, there are still ways to write self-help and get seen by the masses, but it usually begins with a blog. It begins by starting something online and getting people interested in what you’re doing. It starts by creating a following online, who will follow you into your world of book publishing as well.

But for most publishers, unfortunately, publishing new authors in the self-help section just isn’t worth it anymore. A lot of publishers will simply steer clear. Yes, there’s always self-publishing, but without the marketing skills of a big-name publisher, it’s not always feasible to get your book where it needs to be.

My advice, if you have a self-help book you want to write? Go get that blog going. Meet some people. Get them to read and promote your blog. Word of mouth is your best marketing method. It can be done—but it’ll be a rollercoaster of a journey.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Don't Write This (part 1)

Hello, and welcome to the RADblog! I sincerely hope you enjoyed the month of September, and my Character Creation 102 series. If you have anything else you’d like me to cover in the realm of character creation, please leave a comment and let me know! The RADblog is, as always, designed as a way to help writers grow in their craft, to keep them informed about the changing world of publishing, and to have a lot of fun along the way.  

This month, I thought we’d talk a bit about the saturated world of publishing, and discuss a few genres and book types I think you’re better off not writing at all. Now, it’s not to say that you can’t write in these genres or that you can’t possibly do well with them, but to give you a little bit of an idea into what publishers might be looking for, and, by extension, what readers are looking for.

 

#1: Erotica

 

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But sex sells!”—and in some ways, you’d be right. But in my opinion, erotica is where good writers go to become bad ones. And it’s also one of the most highly saturated markets around, because of the “sex sells” logic.

The thing with erotica is that it is, in all honesty, a small niche market. There really aren’t that many readers out there who primarily read erotica. Ask any readers you meet on the street. The majority of them aren’t comfortable reading erotic novels, and if they’re parents, they’re looking for non-erotic novels for their children to read (and that, unfortunately, is becoming very hard to do).

However, like we said, sex does sell. Erotica does sell. But only to the same subset of people, who buy out everything they like. This is how erotica sells. Because the people who read it are ravenous, and they’ll read as much of it as they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, that also means if you’re not putting out a new book every few weeks, they’ll lose interest in you as a writer and move on to someone else.

That right there is how erotica turns into the genre writers go into to die.


Because of the rapid-release requirement when releasing erotica, writers are forced to put out upwards of twelve books in a year while writing in this genre. And that’s only the books released in this genre. If you’re looking to write clean fiction on the side, you’ll have to push out at least one other book in a year as well (depending on the length and genre, of course).  

This rapid writing, this surge in writing erotica which is, let’s face it, basically the same story told different ways, causes writers to burn out incredibly quickly.

I myself have watched as good writers have entered the erotica fiction field, only to burn out in two years and give up on writing entirely.

I don’t want to see that happen to you! In fact, I want to see you thrive in your writing, I want you to have an amazing career where writing can be the thing you do day in and day out, to make all the money you and your family need. But in my opinion, erotica is not the way to go to pull this off.

While it may be a wallet-filler when you start out, if you’re able to get the right marketing attached to your work, it will be even more likely to cause a burn out, and to push you into losing your love of writing in general.

On the other hand, if you write in the same genres you love (fantasy, say) but nix the erotica within it, you’ll open up your reader range to include everyone in the spectrum. Now, you won’t just be reaching out to the ravenous erotica readers, but to the majority of people who read. Keep it clean, and you’ll be able to reach the young adults, the parents, the families, the people who have been reading since they were children but never got into the erotic fiction game.

That, right there, seems like a good tradeoff to me.

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Character Creation 102: Choosing a POV

Welcome back to the RADblog! I hope you’ve all learned a little something out of our series so far this month. I know we all had a great deal of fun with Tammy over the last two months, but now your friendly neighborhood authorologist is here to blog through October. Mwahaha! You’re stuck with me! ;-)

For the month of September, I thought it’d be good to go back to our topic of those pesky characters we discussed back in May and June, but this time, I thought we should discuss how to write from them, instead of from us.

Character Creation 102: Point of View

Point of view, of course, is one of the trickier things for new writers to pick up on. Especially early on in our careers, we tend to pick a single point of view and stick it out to the bitter end, hoping that every story will work within that POV. And we would, of course, be wrong. See, there are three unique points of view, and each one should be used in specific circumstances. We have to learn how to write from all three, how to be proficient in them, and how to know when to use each one. That’s what we’ll be getting into today.

Now, in case any of you believed I wasn’t listening to your complaints all month long, I’ll tell you: I know point of view is not generally considered as a part of character creation. But I think that that’s wrongdoing on all our parts. Characters are the ones who decide what point of view they want to be written in, and so point of view should be determined while creating our characters.

Decision:

How to let your characters be the ones to choose your point of view

This is how I’ve always written. That’ll be why I’m an authority on this. I don’t know how to write in any other way, because I always write like this. I’ve always allowed my characters to be the ones who decide what point of view they wish to be written in.

I highly recommend it.

Start by making your characters. Go through your character sheets, design them all according to what you think these characters will need to be for your story. Try to get into their heads, to allow them to tell you who they are and what they’re doing in this story. At the very least, get your main character figured out.

Now, start writing.

I don’t care what point of view you write in. Neither should you. Just start writing. Do what comes naturally to you. Just start writing.

Now go back and rewrite that same scene in a different point of view.

Which one does your character like best?

That’s how you know which one to use when.

I know, it’s not a scientific solution, it’s nothing clever that’ll make an ah-ha moment or an equation that you can figure out on the basis of your character and your story. No, it’s something that you have to get a feel for, because that’s the way you should be writing. You shouldn’t be the one creating your whole story. Your characters are alive within the story, so let them live. Let them do what they want to do. You can edit things out later, don’t worry.

But, I did promise that I would tell you when to use each one. So, I’ll give you a little key that I’ve been known to use from time to time, particularly in short stories.

First person:
Use this when you want to be close to your character, when you don’t want an overabundance of detail, and when you want your readers to feel something, when you want an emotional response from those discovering your story.

Third person:
Use this when you want to understand as much as possible about your story, rather than your characters. Because third person allows you to explore more than just the thought life of a single character, third person allows us to really discover our worlds, and to elicit thought provocations.

Second person:
Use this when you want to create an intense physical reaction or response from your reader. Because second person allows us to take on the role of the reader, second person allows us to vie for change in the heart and mind of our reader.

And that’s it! That’s the whole secret to choosing your point of view.

Once you know it, it’s pretty darn easy. Deceptively so. 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.  

Character Creation 102: Second Person

Hello, and welcome back to the RADblog! I hope you all enjoyed the last couple months with Tammy—I know I had a lot of fun finding out more about her and the many lives involved in writing.

Now, you’re stuck with me for the next two months. Mwahaha! No, but really, we’ll have fun.

For the month of September, I thought we should take some time to go back to those pesky characters we discussed back in May and June, only this time, I think we should discuss how to write from them, instead of from you.

Character Creation 102: Point of View

I know far too many budding authors who struggle with point of view, especially early on when they start writing. We, all of us, tend to just pick a POV and stick to it as long as we possibly can, with no thought to whether it’s what the story calls for or not. We hope that everything will work out and that the story will be just as brilliant as we want it to be, but we don’t really know what we’re doing. Taking a stab in the dark, as it were. But the thing is, there’s a time and place for each of the distinct points of view, and it’s best that we learn all three very well. Now, we’ve already been through first and third, so let’s discuss the most elusive.

Second Person:

In the Mind of the Reader

I bet you never thought of it like that, did you? Well, that’s what it is. When you read something in second person, you complete internalize it. What’s happening to the main character is now happening to you—and that’s what makes it hard to perfect.

But, what is second person?

Like I said, it’s the most elusive of the three. We’ve talked over the past two weeks about how it’s actually fairly easy to slip into second person, and there’s a very good reason for that. This blog post is, in fact, written in a combination of first and second person.

How? Because second person is the use of the word “you” to describe your narrator. It’s a point of view entirely defined by making the reader into your narrator. It’s an extremely close point of view, and can very easily turn into an incredibly intense, anxious, or even threatening point of view. But at the same time, it can also very easily turn into a joyous, hopeful, and uplifting point of view. It’s a POV that puts a great deal of power in the hands of the writer, more power even than most of us realize.

Second person narration, if I’m being honest, is something which the majority of new writers either love or hate. It’s either a point of view that we dabble in constantly, or one that we avoid at all costs. Unlike first or third person points of view, there’s really nothing easy about it.

Which makes it, unlike the others, something we usually avoid in publication. It’s a point of view very few of us actually write in—and, as always, I want to challenge us to change that.

But for right now, let’s talk about how awesome second person narration really is.

This, coming from an author who love writing in second person, but has yet to perfect it well enough to publish anything in this elusive POV.

I love second person.

I absolutely love it.

And I’ve very rarely seen it done well.

But I love when an author has that much power, to be able to completely determine how the story will affect the reader. I love how deeply we can touch a reader by using second person point of view, how we can change their worldviews, make them think in a completely different way than they might’ve done before. Neither of the other points of view do this quite so well, and in fact, neither of them really come close at all.

Second person allows us to create some form of change within our readers, to make them think in a way no other point of view can do.

If you’ve never written in second person, I challenge you to try it. Try writing a short story in second person (a short story, because novels in second person take a great deal more attention). See what it’s like to make your reader into your narrator.

You’ll have a better sense of your readers in general, because you won’t just be writing for them—you’ll be writing them.

But, as always, how do we know if a story should be written in second person?

Next week, we’ll figure all that out.

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

Character Creation 102: Third Person

Welcome back to the RADblog! I hope you all enjoyed the last two months with Tammy—I know I had a lot of fun finding out more about her and the many lives involved in writing.

Now, you’re stuck with me for the next two months. Mwahaha! No, but really, we’ll have fun.

For the month of September, I thought we should take some time to go back to those pesky characters we discussed back in May and June, only this time, I think we should discuss how to write from them, instead of from you.

Character Creation 102: Point of View

POV can be tricky, to the point that many young writers struggle with it throughout the beginning of their writing career. Either we pick a POV and stick with it through thick and thin, or we flip flop back and forth and can never decide what POV a story actually needs. See, there are three unique points of view, and each one should be used in certain circumstances, but it’s hard to tell which one to use when. At the end of this month, I’ll give you a good key for figuring out which one to use when. Today though, let’s get onto the next point of view.

Third Person:

In the Mind of All

Don’t worry, I am well aware that third person does not necessarily mean that you’ll be spending all your time in many character’s minds. In fact, I know it’s quite common for writers to spend time in the mind of only one character, though it’s third person. But that’s not quite as common for beginners, so it’s not what we’ll be spending as much time on today.

But, what is third person anyway?

This one’s a little bit easier. Unlike first and second person, there’s not generally crossover with third. Occasionally it’ll slip into second person, but it’s not as common. If an editor finds it in your manuscript, they’ll probably cut it out.

Why? Because third person consists entirely of “he,” “she,” “his,” “hers” and variants thereon. It’s the point of view that’s defined by several characters, which allows the writer to get into the minds of many characters at once, or many characters in general. It can be a point of view that’s very close upon the narrator of any given scene, or a point of view that’s broad and allows readers to get into the minds of every character in the room at once.

Third person narration is also one which many writers stick to when they first start out, because for many of us, it’s the easiest point of view to master. When done well, it’s easy to read and doesn’t make readers as nervous, and in some ways it’s easier to write, because we’re allowed to get inside more than one character at a time.

Of course, just like with first person, that’s also what makes it a crutch. If it’s the only point of view you write in, then over the next few weeks I’ll be challenging you to change that. But for right now, let’s focus on how awesome third person narration is.

This, of course, coming from someone who has written an entire sci-fi novel series in third person, and who currently has a fantasy series being released primarily in third person.

I love third person.

Yeah, I really do.

Though I love how close I can get to a single character in first person, I love how much more intrigue I can add into third person. I love how I can vary how deeply I go into my characters, how easily I can add mystery and thrill by not telling my readers every single thing about the characters involved. At the same time, I love being able to give every last scrap of detail as well, as is allowed by third person. I can show the same scene from multiple character’s points of view, to reveal new sides to the same story. It allows my readers to understand exactly what I want them to understand, and then some, because now they’re able to see inside the minds of more than one character at once—which, after all, is something we cannot do in real life.

My readers get to be a fly on the wall, to view a story from every possible angle, which can be an extremely beautiful thing.

If you’ve never written in third person, I would strongly challenge you to do so. To write something in close third person and in omniscient third person. See what it’s like to be in one characters head, and then in many. See how it is to write through a different medium entirely.

You’ll understand more of your characters far better than before, because you won’t just be writing from the point of view of the one.

But again, how do you know when a story should be written in third person?

You’ll just have to wait until the end of the month for my thoughts on the matter.

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.