Tag Archives: Genre

Writing—Starting from Scratch

writing brand concept

A few days ago, a gal came to me for help. She wanted to begin writing but didn’t know where to start. She asked if I could/would help her.

This case isn’t unusual. Few beginning writers know where to start on the road toward publication. I did what I always do in this situation—I asked several questions to define the boundaries this would-be writer wanted to work with at the beginning.

Questions for the beginning writer:

  1. What kind of writing do you want to pursue? Fiction, non-fiction (including memoir), educational, inspirational, novel-length, poetry, etc.
  2. What’s the purpose behind your writing desire? Do you want to make extra money? Is this more a hobby for personal satisfaction where monetary gain is secondary to the work itself? Again, this makes a big difference in effort and in direction.
  3. What is the final goal of your desire to write? That’s going to be the hardest to pinpoint.
  4. All of these questions bring us back to–what type of writing do you want to do? Children’s’, adult, romance, Christian, science fiction, fantasy, etc. These are a major consideration.

abstract-medical-background_My3tatDOAnswering these four questions is paramount to beginning a serious stab at putting words to paper for others to read. For this particular newbie, fear didn’t come into it. She’d written pieces before for community newsletters and the like. She wanted more in-depth structure to the path than she had already experienced.

Left with this homework, she was satisfied to stand at the trailhead to her future. She could give me one answer immediately. She wanted to write memoir/inspirational pieces—not just to tell her story, but also with the potential to help others going through similar life lessons.

compass-vector_MywT8Ww_Following the trail requires direction and signposts. Armed with the desired genre, I could point her toward additional research homework. I advised her to look through the following resources for how they could help her hone both her desires and her craft.

  1. National Assoc. of Memoir Writers: http://namw.org/ Specialty organization for education/networking/publication
  2. The Writer Magazine: http://www.writermag.com/. Marketing lists of publications, contests & Competitions, plus educational  material
  3. Writer’s Digest Magazine: http://www.writersdigest.com/. Marketing/education/contests
  4. Blog Her: http://www.blogher.com/. Networking with other women writers of all stripes, forums, opportunities
  5. She Writes: http://www.shewrites.com/. Networking with other women writers, forums, publishing, etc.

Once this newbie spends time sorting through what’s on offer at these sites, she’ll have a better handle on what’s possible for her immediately and what’s still on the needs list.

Close up of glasses on research concept

Close up of glasses on research concept

Each genre has its own needs, craft secrets, and markets. Memoir and inspirational writing is no different. This groundwork is necessary for anyone who wants to pursue the trail to publication.

As we go through this process, I’ll post here on the ground covered and the signposts along the way. Others can use this same information for their own journey. I hope it can point the way for any who are confused or unsure of their direction.

And on that note, I’m going to leave you with a poem poster I did today for a poetry challenge from one of my groups on Facebook. Enjoy.

Earth Sunrise and Milky Way Illustration. First Sun Lights. Space Illustrations Collection.

Earth Sunrise and Milky Way Illustration. First Sun Lights. Space Illustrations Collection.

 

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.