Writing – literary or genre?

There is a question all writers should confront at some point during their writing life:

What sort of writer do I want to be?

Because, of course, there are a number of different types of writer. Perhaps the question should be: “What do I want from my writing life?”

Believe it or not, this is something nearly all writers fail to ask themselves. I know, we all start off writing as a bit of a hobby. Most of the population can physically write, putting letters together to form words, and words together to form sentences. That’s a basic function many can handle.

But writing seriously? Learning how to write productively, and with a purpose and with an intention to gain an audience?

THAT’S DIFFERENT

To align with this blog’s title, one of the choices fiction writers should make is: do we want to write genre or literary fiction?

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Location research

I’m not a researcher. I’m not big on spending hours talking to people, interviewing them even, learning about them, their jobs, their private lives, the places they live and work. I do know authors who are researchers, and they love spending time learning stuff.

Nope. Not me.

But this week, I travelled about an hour away from home to look at a small village that I might use for a new series of cosy mysteries.

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Creativity

I want to talk about creativity. It concerns one of the most asked questions of authors – where do you get your ideas from? I know it sounds like a cliché, but so many non-authors want to know how we can ‘come up with’ such devious, exciting and intricate plots for our novels.

And I think we all have a slightly different answer. “I get my best ideas when I’m in the shower / out walking / drunk on a Saturday night”; “some of my most well-received novels have been based on dreams / nightmares / the result of imbibing vast quantities of psychedelic drugs”; or the asinine “I don’t know, really – they just come to me when I’m sitting in my garden writing studio listening to the sounds of nature”.

Some of these may be true, but it’s not my version of truth.

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Productivity

I’m working hard on writing my novels, but I’m also working on a new project – The Efficient Novelist program. More details on that in the near future. And apologies for those who feel offended by the spelling of programme.

But as I’m writing alongside the program, and making notes on what I do and what I could do better, I’m also wondering how I collate these notes to make sure they’re not lost, and how I can organise them into the sections of the program. Writing them down in a notebook, on pieces of paper or index cards means duplication of effort as they’ll need to be transferred into electronic format at some time in the future. Creating a MS Word document means lots of scrolling as I find the right section in which to place the notes. 

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Is good enough good enough?

Do you know what that picture is, above this post? I know, it’s two lines – a straight red one, and a curvy blue one. Any mathematicians amongst you know what it’s called?

It’s an ASYMPTOTE

What the dickens is an asymptote? It’s defined as: a line that a curve approaches, as it heads towards infinity.

So in our image above, the red line is the asymptote.
All very well and good, but what’s this got to do with writing?

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19 days in – how are those targets?

I suppose one of my ‘start of year’ targets (see http://gerald-hornsby.com/blog/2015/12/31/welcome-2016/) should have been to make myself more accountable. Well, here goes. How am I doing?

✔︎ 1. to write one short story a week for the whole year (a.k.a. the Bradbury Challenge)
Yes! I’ve written 4 shorts in my linked series, and 7 (yes, seven!) pieces of flash fiction, one of which will be uploaded one day soon.

✔︎ 2. to write 100,000 words @ 1,000 words a day (a.k.a. #100kwords100days
Yes! I’m doing well, and certainly up to date, and in fact, slightly ahead. I also doing a 365k challenge for the whole year. Mad, I know.

⎋ 3. to do first edits on two previously-completed novels
Nothing more on this one yet.

⎋ 4. to self-publish two collections of short fiction for halloween and Christmas 
Nothing yet.

✘ 5. to write a blog post once per week (minimum)
Oops.

⎋ 6. to write book and short story reviews on the blog
Soon. Honest.

✔︎ 7. to be more active on Goodreads, posting reviews etc.
If you count logging in, updating my friends list and checking off my latest book, then yes, I’ve been more active.

So, all-in-all, not too bad. Some things are to be done later in the year, which is understandable, but apart from activity here, I’m doing well!

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NaNoWriMo – planning and podcasting

We’re less that two weeks away from the beginning of November, and the start of NaNoWriMo 2012.

I currently have three ideas for stories – one at least half-planned, and two roughly planned. More planning needed, and decisions to make. I have considered doing a double NaNo – writing either 100,000 words, or two 50,000 word pieces. I like a challenge, me, even if it does sound stupid when I’m sober.

I’m also doing a bit of podcasting – I’ve uploaded a short videocast .: HERE :. and there’s an audio podcast too, when I can find somewhere to host it.

So, today, I’m planning a bit more on the other two story ideas, and I hope to be able to make a choice by the end of the day as to whether I’ll be doing one or two, and which of the ideas I’m going to write.

Edit: my audio podcast site is .: HERE :.

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Should I write literary fiction, or should I write genre?

I’ve just read a fascinating article by Laura Miller HERE , where she investigates the continuing “literary – vs – genre” debate. This, in response to an article in the Guardian recently.

For me, this article sums up the ideas about reading, and why we shouldn’t dismiss genre fiction too lightly. It all depends on who your target audience is. Do you want your works to be admired for their cleverness, or do you want them to be read by a mass market?

The current rise in popularity of the romance genre in ebooks shows that there is a market for ‘traditional’ genre fiction. And long may it continue.

Oh, and I can’t write literary fiction. I’ve tried. God knows, I’ve tried. But it’s genre for me.

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