About Writing Different Genre’s

 

Sedition-WEB
First Fantasy Novel – Oh, noo’s I can’t write anything else EVER!

A long time ago someone told me that if I started as a fantasy author, I would always be a fantasy author. It was stressed that I had to pick one field to master and then go with it, limiting myself to that field.

 

Being the young, easily swayed person I was back then, I believed them … for about a minute and a half.

My current list of titles includes science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. While it could be argued that science fiction and fantasy are the same genres (they’re often in the same section of a bookstore) we’re going to go ahead and draw a big dividing line between them.

I’m sorry, but science fiction is NOT fantasy. Some books might cross the borders between the two, but when push comes to shove you know the difference when you’re reading them.

So it’s safe to say that I dabble in several different genres at this point.

Now, the argument still stands that if you stick with one genre you will eventually “master” it. I use the word “master” lightly because writing is a craft that very few people

Deviation-510
Oh, Snap! My first Science Fiction novel! Eat that, nay-sayers!

master. We all just work hard at pretending like we’ve got it down.

 

What I mean by “master” in this situation is that you will have written so many that you’ve trained your writing brain to create new and enticing material precisely because you have written so much of it. Your mind stretches harder for newer, fresher plot twists and characters and worlds because you’ve already used many of the tropes before.

However, the same can be said even if you cross genre borders. Just because I used a trick in a fantasy novel does not make it free to use in one of my science fiction books. So I still end up stretching my creativity in any given book and that “mastery” is still being developed.

Now then …

There is the issue of “brand.”

If you’ve been in this business for any amount of time, you’ve heard that an author has to have a particular “brand” to sell. James Patterson sells fast-paced thrillers and mysteries. Stephen King sells intricate horror stories. Jennifer Crusie sells quirky romances.

 

AJMaguire-PersonaCover-1280h
Sweet Holy banana’s, Batman! Here comes a Historical Fiction! I’m out of control now!

How then, do you have a “brand” when you sell books in different genres? I addressed the issue of a brand in another blog post but didn’t really answer how I meant to brand myself.

 

I have admitted to being awful about marketing. It feels so pretentious to wave my books around. My marketing tends to sound more like; “Hey! I wrote this book and I think it’s kinda decent so maybe you could read it? Maybe? I mean, only if you want to. Or if you have the time. Or … whatever.”

Super wimpy, I know. My only defense is that I’d rather be writing.

You know … “mastering” my craft. Trying to get better.

Trying to tell a good story. The sort of story that will hit you in the gut and stick with you for a while. The kind that challenges your point of view and makes you think about how other people live and how you might be able to help those who need it.

I want positive relevance with my books.

For the record, I actually had to hunt for what I wanted my books to be and pinpoint why it is I bother with all the work writing is to figure this out. But in the end, once I had answered the question of “why do I write?” I was able to find my so-called brand.

“Positive Relevance” is what I’m striving for here and what I want my books to represent and be. So … I believe that is what my brand is.  And it should reach across all genres that I write in.

tumblr_m7pf6xepgw1r5mah4

 

First Sentences, Paragraphs, and Chapters – May Round Robin

Topic: Has so much emphasis been placed by other writers advice, publishers, reviewers, etc. on authors to have a spectacular opening page/1st chapter that the rest of the story sometimes gets left behind? What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

Having just read Sol Stein’s On Writing, I fear I might be a little biased on this. While captivating beginnings have been hammered into my head since high school, this book brought home the reasons why.

Readers give a novel less time to engage them than they do any other form of media out there. Movies and games and TV shows get more of a chance from potential viewers/players.

For a TV show, you might give the first whole episode a go.

For a movie, it’s something like the first thirty minutes.

For a book …

Well, for a book we get a sentence. And then hopefully a paragraph. And then maybe a page. If the narrative doesn’t engage us immediately, that book gets put down.

Unless, of course, you have lucked out and found that rare reader who will give the whole thing a shot and THEN decide they hated it.

So the pressure that authors are put under for an excellent first sentence, first paragraph, first chapter is seeded in a depressing reality. People just don’t have time to devote to reading the first three chapters of a book before deciding whether or not they’re going to continue.

They need to want to continue from the very start. Something about the character or the situation has to resonate with them, or they will run off to wash the dishes. (Because nothing humbles an author more than realizing washing dishes is more interesting than their book to some people.)

That being said … the rest of the book has to get better. I have noticed during my second drafts that I’m often tightening my work, trying to touch back to whatever resonance I managed to capture in that first page.

And I always, always, always re-read the first chapter before I write the final chapters.

In fact, oftentimes I end up beginning my second draft before completing the last 3 chapters of a book. I have to bring myself back to the start of it, remind myself what promises I made in the beginning that should be carried forward, before I can complete the work in its entirety.

I tend to follow Stephen King’s advice here. I write the first draft “with the door closed.” Meaning it’s just for me and nobody gets to see it and I tell it the way that I want to tell it.

And then I write the second draft “with the door open.” Meaning I take all the tricks of the trade I’ve been taught and write the book for my ideal reader, keeping them in mind instead of just rushing through a flurry of creativity.

This works.

It means that the whole of the story is down, you know what you want to say and where the book is supposed to lead, so you know what you want to set up in that first chapter. And you know what tension you need to keep through the whole book, which gives you a more cohesive story.

See what some of my fellow authors have to say in this month’s Round Robin discussion …

A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-YV
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

 

The Countdown

I am now exactly three months away from Persona’s publication date.

What does this mean for me?

AJMaguire-PersonaCoverArt-ChrisHoward_rev28_ART_ONLYWell, it means a lot of work, actually. I have a list of things that need to be done like … hunt for virtual space (AKA – look for people online who wouldn’t mind me commandeering their blog/site for a day) and prepping advertising spots and getting reminder letters ready for all the wonderful people who agreed to advance review the book and … so much more.

SO. Much. More.

Side Note: Thank you so much to all of my advanced readers. I’ve heard from most of you already and I really, really appreciate the time it takes to sit down and read a book these days. You’re all awesomesauce on toast and I uber love you.

What happened to the Kindle Scout Campaign?

As predicted, this was not the right fit for me. Kindle Scout is made for people who really don’t mind shouting over and over and over again that their book is up and needs votes. I am not that sort of person.

Granted, if I were that sort of person it is entirely possible that I would sell a lot more books. The tactic seems to work very well for a lot of people. For my part, I cannot justify being that much of a pest. And if I spend all my time promoting, I get no writing done. (I am a single parent. My time is limited.)

Having re-read the manuscript hunting for any last-minute errors and the like, I have to say that Persona is a favorite of mine. While I may have bemoaned all the research I had to do writing a historical fiction, it is still one of my favorite stories. Megan is a gentle hero, which I believe to be one of the more common and less noticed heroes in the world today.

In any case … the countdown has begun! Three months and two days and this novel will finally be out for sale. It’s been a long but very satisfying road to see it get to this point and I’m excited for the next step.

 

 

Happy Release Day!

41SPrUMbf+LTorven is officially released!

You can find it on Amazon right now in both Kindle and Paperback versions. However, if you purchase the paperback then you can get the Kindle version for free.

Torven is a novelette, which means it is very small – just eight chapters long. It is a fairy tale and I did write it for my eight-year-old son, so it’s safe for all ages … as long as you don’t mind a little violence.

From the back cover:

Torven knows he is no normal beast. What little he can remember of his past tells him that he was a man once, not the wolf he roams as now. And he had known love once; a love that ran so deeply he can feel it even in his cursed form.

The Witch who controls him seems to delight in his torment, and under the watchful eyes of her minions Torven can find no peace. But when a poacher comes into the Blightwood Torven finds himself with a new assignment, handed down by the Witch herself.

Unable to combat the Witch’s magic, Torven goes on the hunt only to discover that this poacher is a woman. And not just any woman, but the woman from his memory. As time runs short and the Witch’s patience grows thin, Torven must find a way to communicate with the girl, to warn her of the danger, before an even more tragic fate can befall them.

Editing Outlines

Alright, so I was intrigued by the idea of editing an outline before you’ve gone in and started your story. Normally I get one outline done and then I have to edit it midway through the book to compensate for all the extra things I’ve learned about the characters and little subplots that have cropped up during the drafting process.

So!

Imagine my delight when, on my third draft of Dead Weight’s outline, my Muse woke up and fixed something I hadn’t even noticed was broken. It changes 80% of the book, adds tension, drives home the concept of what a tapped soldier is, and reminds everyone (including me) just how far the Consulate has gone in its hunt for power.

And the best part?

I’m not cringing about having to go back and re-write a ton of words. Because they haven’t been written yet. 

On top of that, my excitement for actually getting to the writing part of this book has increased exponentially. And I still have 3 weeks left of Outline edits to go.

Because I want to cash in on the inspiration I’ve got going on right now, I’m going to go ahead and start writing little snippets here and there. The next few passes at the Outline are going to focus on character reactions/motivations. I’ve got a solid plot foundation under me now and I just need to tweak who recognizes what and things.

In the meantime, I’m using Camp NaNoWriMo to get caught up on some other works. Residual Haunting, for example, is in a tragic state of nearly-complete. And in other announcements, I managed to get Persona prepped and ready for print-launch.

As with all my books, I do try the traditional market first. There were a couple of nibbles from agents and the like with Persona and, while I intend to send out another volley of queries within the month, I also wish to make sure I get at least one book out a year.

So unless Persona gets picked up in the interim, we can expect a launch date sometime in December. (Imagine me throwing all sorts of confetti and jumping up and down in excitement. This poor book has been in the works for a couple decades now. It’s time it sees the light of day.)

To everyone else who’s working hard at their Camp NaNoWriMo stuff … Good work! Keep going! Get words on the page! You’re six days in and all the world is at your fingertips.

 

Writing and Business and the In-Between

As of this evening my novelette “Torven” has a completed rough draft. Given its very small length (16006 words) I have been toying around with the idea of giving it away for free or really, really cheap (after it’s gone through a rigorous editing) which has led me to the normal marketing spiel/debate.

I’ve been here before. Often.

In fact, I’d like to say I’ve dipped my toes into murky depths of marketing since Sedition was first published five years ago. (Five years? Really? Sheesh.)

I have not, however, really committed to a marketing plan. Up until this point my focus was on my craft, wanting to just write the next story and grow as an author, and while none of those goals have changed (and never will, because that’s the whole point of taking ownership of your craft) … I can say that I am going to step intrepidly out into the realm of marketing.

I started, quite comically, with a giveaway of Tapped today on Amazon. The giveaway lasted all of an hour, which … really showed me how bad I am at math. (5 books + every 5th entrant wins = about an hour’s worth of giveaway time. Just in case anyone else needs this information.)

But I learned a great deal about what I want to do in the future. I’ve set up a pretty little timetable to follow for marketing – when I want to do what promotions and at what sites – and even color-coded it … because I’m a geek like that.

I am also in the process of revamping my website … with help because I’m really not great at it.

As to writing itself …

With “Torven” done I can go back to Dead Weight, the sequel to Tapped. I’ll be revamping the outline based on the things I learned in James Patterson’s Master Class (still an awesome thing and if you write, you should check it out.)

Basically, I’ll be going over the outline once a week through the month of April. Start to finish. Tightening the plot. Adding elements of the suspense genre into my science fiction … basically implementing everything Mr. Patterson set out to teach me in 22 lessons.

I’m excited.

It’ll be fun.

And I’ll record all the mayhem here because I can … and maybe it’ll help someone else down the road.

 

The Side Project

My cork board hasn’t changed since January. According to my calendar I should be on Chapter 9, not Chapter 4, of Dead Weight. That big leap I had at the beginning of the year is now completely gone.

But you know what?

I really don’t care.

Because I’ve been working. Granted, I haven’t been working on what I said I’d be working on at this point, but it’s still words on the page.

In fact, it’s over 10,000 words of that lovely fairy tale story I began for my son. He’s enjoying it still, by the way, and it is nearly complete. I should have the full novella by the end of this month. At which point I’ll set it aside for a couple of weeks before doing a round or two of edits and then I intend to put it out for free/super cheap/whatever I can get Createspace to do there.

But I haven’t just been writing on this thing. I also opted to take James Patterson’s Master Class on writing and slowly made it through the 22 lessons there.

Why no, I’ve never written a suspense novel before, but that doesn’t mean that things within the suspense genre can’t be planted into the genres that I prefer writing. In particular, I took away from this class a very distinct outlook on Outlines that I will, at the beginning of April, implement with Dead Weight.

Since I’m only on Chapter 4 there I don’t feel like I’ll be shooting myself in the foot starting over with the Outline and doing it the “Patterson” way.

For those who have been toying with the idea of taking a Master Class like this one, I’m going to go ahead and give the “two thumbs up” and encourage you to do so. There are some things you’ve heard that you’ll hear again, but in the end it’s got some nuggets in there that you can certainly use.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting some of the Fairy Tale on the website and things because … well … it’s fun. And you can’t beat free.