Don't Write This (final)

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.

Today, we’ve reached the finale! So for the next few months, Tammy will teach you about writing—and isn’t she amazing at it?

 

#4: The Same Thing You Just Read

 

Since it’s the finale, I wanted to take a slightly different tack with today’s topic. Where before we’ve been talking about genres you might not want to write, or might have a little more difficulty getting into, today I wanted to discuss a type of book that you really shouldn’t write.

(Before I get too much further though, I want to clarify that I in no way mean fan fiction. I love fan fiction. Please don’t stop writing that. I need more Firefly in my life!)

There’s a tendency among writers, to copy the book we just finished reading. It’s in no way intentional, nor is it something we really notice, most of the time. I’ve noticed it myself only because I’m an editor, because my editor eye roams over the pages I’ve written and thinks, “Haven’t I read this before?”

 

Don’t write the same thing you just read.

Don’t write a story you’ve read before.

Don’t write what’s already been written.

Why?

Because it’s already been written! The readers who loved it the first time are probably content with the first version they read, and they don’t need a new rehashing of it to make them love the story any more. 

Think of it like this:

You just read The Lord of the Rings. Now you’ve had an epiphany, a dream, a notion of a story where a group of women are forced together under strange circumstances to cross the world and destroy all evil through dropping this magic chalice down the mouth of a volcano. That’s The Lord of the Rings, told through a different lens, with different characters.

By doing this, you’re stifling your own creativity. I know you have ideas in your noggin, ideas that are all yours and no one else’s. And though it’s true that you have the potential to write the next Lord of the Rings, that you could be the next Tolkien, isn’t it better if you just be you? Isn’t it better if the books you write are ones that came from you, and no one else? Won’t it mean more to you, to succeed in writing a book that came from you, and not from a rehash of a story you’ve already read?

The answer is yes.

You have stories in you. I know you do. We all do. All you have to do is write them down and allow them to flourish, without being tainted by copying stories you’ve read before.

Thank you all so much for hanging out with me these past few months! I’ll be back in 2019, to start out the new year. (wow, can you believe we’re already that far through 2018?)

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

 

p.s. I also don’t mean that you shouldn’t be inspired by books you’ve read. By all means, be inspired by The Lord of the Rings. I know I am! Just don’t let yourself write the exact same story, in a different way.

Don't Write This (part 3)

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.

 

#3: Non-Genre Fiction

 

Now, while in the last few weeks we’ve focused on things from the point of view of saturated markets, today we’re taking a different angle. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing straight fiction, just a story that’s a story, with no outside genre. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write it at all, or that nobody wants to read it. What I am saying is that non-genre fiction is much harder to market than genre fiction.

There are a lot of readers who go to bookstores and browse through the fiction section. I’ve seen oodles of them, making their way through the doors and heading straight to fiction, avoiding every other genre along the way.

The difference between them and other readers is that they’re more likely to shop in store, rather than online. So in order to get your book in front of them, in order for them to notice your book, specifically, is to get your book on an actual bookshelf—and that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Genre fiction, on the other hand, is incredibly easy to market online. It’s also marketable to more than one range of people, because every genre of genre fiction actually contains two or three genres, when you break it down. That means when we set up online ads to market our books, we can set them up with large chunks of reader groups in mind, rather than a single subset of readers.

And this is my entire point for today.

There are very many publishers out there who have entire departments focused on fiction without any other genres, but those publishers have what it takes to get their books on shelves across the world. They have a name and a prowess that bookstores know well. And if you don’t have one of those names behind you, many bookstores won’t give your book a second glance—no matter how amazing it may be.

So if you’re a fiction writer, a writer of fiction that’s just fiction, my advice to you is to get a publisher. An actual publisher. Do whatever it takes. Get an agent. Contact as many publishing houses as you can. Find a company that’s familiar with bookstores, and work with them to make sure your book gets put in the line of sight of the readers who will love it.  

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Isn’t that what people always say?

 

Rani Divine
Associate Editor, etc.

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.