Monthly Archives: April 2015

At Home Writing Genre You Don’t Read

Science Fiction Key Shows Sci Fi Books And Movies

Every writer has a genre, even if she/he doesn’t think about it. There are those like me who write in several genres. Why? Because it’s what the writer likes to read.

Not long ago I was in conversation with several other writers about this subject. A question came up as to whether someone can write a genre if they don’t read it. I know. Who would have though, right?

The thing is, a person reads a particular type of story for pleasure—even if it’s non-fiction. (More on that in a minute.) Why would any writer want to craft a science fiction story, for instance, if they don’t like reading them? Reader popularity, that’s why.

Genre Slots and Their Needs

Book and knowledge conceptLet’s use one category as our focus. Sci-fi is a strong seller most of the time. Of course, if someone doesn’t read sci-fi, how will they know or understand the different types of conventions, jargon, and specs that go along with each category of science fiction? There are several types out there, all with their own labels.. Dystopian, utopian, steampunk, time slippage/time travel, hard, soft, social, speculative, alternative history, fantasy and its types, horror, etc. The list gets longer every year with new cross-over writing styles and approaches.

Beyond that major consideration is the niche market involved (audience.) Is the story for young children, middle grade, YA, new adults, or adults? Each of these categories of readers has its own specifications to narrow its focus and its language usage.

All the other genres are much the same, with regard to type, audience, and reader expectations.

Following Writing/Story Trends

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OTypes of hot stories come and go like hairstyles. There’s a cyclic rhythm to what’s hot and what’s not. Vampires are dying out, as are werewolves. I know. Let’s all take a moment in silent acknowledgement of the passing of this fad. It was lucrative while it lasted, but now it’s time to move on.

Dystopian has always had an audience and probably always will. It’s all those pessimists out there. Stemapunk is just plain fun. It’s inventive and quirky and fun. It has the added bonus of a different mindset, too, which adds to its popularity with adults as well as younger readers.

When I was around twelve, before Gilligan’s island, I wrote a story about a woman who’d gone to a uninhabited, tropical island for her own peace of mind. She even created a pedal-car from bamboo and a fantastic house with all sorts of imaginative uses for resources from the island. Who would have thought I’d be so far ahead of the times with that one. And I hadn’t yet read Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson.

I wrote it because it was fun to use my imagination that way. Was it any good? I can’t really say. I’m too biased. But it lead me toward what I enjoyed reading—science fiction.

The point is: every fad/trend ends. If the writer follows the trends, she’s always doomed to being behind the curve. Writing what you have no affinity for is worse than risky. There’s no joy in it.

Carving Out a Writer’s Path

golden-gate-bridge_G1dNY1tOI said earlier that we’d get to non-fiction. Here it is. All fiction is based, at least in part, on non-fiction.

No one can write any other way. Our minds work with what we’ve already learned/experienced to build our text. Those who work with memoir know this.

Memoir is one form of non-fiction that can be used for many writing genres. An event from childhood triggers a story for children about a specific place, event, life-lesson. Take your pick. The same can hold true for stories for adults, too. A favorite party dress or football jersey brings back memories. The writer has a choice: write the memory in a memoir piece or cast it with other characters and drop it into fiction for a specific genre.

Mainstream—whatever your definition—holds the same advantages for using non-fiction. Whether your interest lies in science, fashion, decorating, or anything else you choose, it’s based on something you know or are interested in.

ying-and-yang-glyph-icon_zJP_wTI_The list of options for writing seems endless right now in the publishing world. Jumping on trendy bandwagons won’t necessarily grow you a reliable and loyal reader base. Writing for readers who enjoy the same stories that you do can build such a reader base. And that’s the whole purpose of writing and sharing your work. It embraces the essence of the ying and yang of the universe. Think about it.

As for me, I enjoy reading so many different types of stories I’ll never run out of work to enjoy, on either side of the keyboard.

Be sure to like my Facebook Author’s page at: Claudette J. Young if you enjoy what I present here.

At Home on a Writer’s Diving Board

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Getting ready to launch isn’t easy for me. I keep asking myself if it’s easy for anyone. I never get an answer to my query.

I’ve a few projects sitting on the back end of that diving board, along with a few creeping toward the business end of that plank. The one that will dive first is Short Tales of Book Cover 02Twisted Wishes, a chapbook of flash fiction. It will launch next weekend on Kindle.

From there will come the second in the Short Tales series, and on through different themed chapbooks. My hard drive holds enough flash fiction to put together at least five or six of the little samplers. Some might ask why anyone would waste time creating these when she has bigger projects to finish.

Here’s an answer to that.

Several larger projects are on the boards. I’ve been working on them for a long time and haven’t gotten them finished yet. They’re under the pen, but novel-length work goes slower than the other writing. Why? Personal perfectionism tendencies.

Yep, if a chapbook of twenty-thirty pages can go to readers, filled with stories I loved writing for others to enjoy, I’ve won a race. True, the race is one of my own making, but given my penchant for extreme perfectionism, anything that goes out is a plus.

5b6-052714-akpCase in point: a week or so ago, a call for submissions came across my desk. The contest was a small one, with no prize money, no trophy. It asked for a 140-character complete story. Those are some of the best challenges, like tiny puzzles of the mind. The deadline was rapidly approaching—can we say a matter of an hour. I couldn’t resist.

Fifteen minutes later, I hit the send key to submit my tiny story. The actual prize for the top 10 winners was to have their stories professionally produced as individual short videos to be released on each writer’s YouTube Channel.

That prize might not seem like a lot. It might even seem lame. For me, though, it was a boon. I liked the idea of seeing a few sentences created into a book trailer with voice over, music, and good quality. It cost me fifteen minutes time and creativity. That’s all.

Now comes the wait time for my video to launch. You see, my little tear-jerker was one of those top ten stories received. It may not seem like much, but it’s a great confidence booster. It’s also a good lesson about perfectionism for me. The six sentences that comprised the story had three rewrites in that fifteen minutes, but in the end it was right.

The work went quickly. No real obsession with perfectionism prevailed. And it rewarded me with acceptance and pride in my work.

This is the second time such a prize has come my way–the first was a children’s short story produced in the U.K. a few years ago with the same scenario. It’s a terrific feeling.

My decision to work small for a while and get things out was reinforced in short order. Pun intended.

stock-photo-2-019That diving board doesn’t have to get higher than one meter right now. Springboards are just fine. My flash fiction and poetry chapbooks can act as goldfish, growing with time and then acting as feeder fish for larger projects that take longer revision times.

The launch of a novelette-length series episode is also coming soon. That’s right. The first installment of the Wisher’s World Series, Composing an Apprentice, will come out next month, too.

See, there’s going to be plenty of work done from that flexible plank at the end of the writer’s pool.

At Home—Writers, Readers, and Characters

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If you’re a reader, you aren’t necessarily a writer. But, if you’re a writer, you’re always a reader. Between the two are the characters of whatever story is in view.

Writers may have penned their stories since childhood, as I did. Others come to it later in life. All read books early, and for many like me, the choice of reading material wasn’t dictated by genre or age group. At age ten, I was reading my mother’s lit book from high school. My favorite selection in it was Tennyson’s Lady of the Lake.

By age twelve I’d moved to Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. Thirteen brought on the complete works of Shakespeare, thoughtfully provided by my father, who’d never read of word of the Bard’s work. Other masters from around the world followed the Bard. The one, though, that stayed closest to my heart was Omar Khayyam’s The Rubaiyat, which was later supplanted by The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Because of the era in which I grew up, most of the main characters were male. I longed for female characters that went on quests, made serious decisions, etc. I’d long written my own heroines, but the desire to read those written by others kept the spark of writing alive for many years until such characters began appearing in books and films.

stock-photos-v2-004-008Now, this is my question for you. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, which types of female main characters do you prefer in books? Is she the gentle-souled, romantic who lives the good life, working hard to bring harmony to her world? Is she the Lara Croft type, who wades in, guns blazing, ready for any event and then some? What about the girly-girl, who’s more interested in her appearance at the next event, but who can’t change a light bulb to illuminate her surroundings?

It’s my belief that we all have a favorite type of female lead, just as we have a favorite male lead. The question is: what does that say about the reader?

For me, I like strong female characters; strong in personality and in body. Why? It could be vicarious in nature. I was always strong in both. I was the protector of weaker kids on the playground and the school bus. It was a role I took on voluntarily. I still do it to some degree.

stock-photo-2-011I crave the adventure and excitement of the hero’s journey, regardless of story setting or timeframe. I also enjoy the intellectual stimulation of who-done-its. Truth to tell, I’ll read just about anything that can’t move faster than my questing hands. It was a joke during my adolescence that there was a dictionary in the bathroom for my benefit.

What about those girlie-girl characters? If they’re being put into situations that require stamina, intelligence, and a Wonder Woman outlook, no problem exists. If she’s going to whine through the whole story, this reader lays down the book, never to return. Call it a personal quirk. Like most readers, for me to enjoy the story, there must be character growth along the plotline.

Now, after all this discussion of my personal preferences, have you taken a moment to compare yours? What conclusions did you draw?

Tell me, what type of female characters do you prefer and why do you like them? Leave a comment and tell me. I can’t believe I’m the only one out there with character preferences.

Above all else, readers enjoy reading for the sake of the mental pictures, the characters, and the possibility of learning something. Enjoy a story today.