Who’s the story for? Writing inside-out, or outside-in?

I had a thought the other day. And I discussed it with my partner, Anita Belli.

Because when we start writing, outside school and college, we write for ourselves. We want to write the stories which are burning inside us, we want to highlight the themes and issues that drive us.

And, sometimes, we dream of becoming great authors.

After a while, our big dreams and high ideals become somewhat tempered by reality. No one’s interested in our novel.

What? Are they stupid? Don’t they realise how brilliant this is?

But all the time, we’re writing from the inside out. This is our story, dammit!

But as we progress with our writing careers, there comes a time when we crave just a little reward – some recognition that the reader has enjoyed what we wrote. I always say that there have been two high spots in my career – once when someone contacted me to say they enjoyed my writing, and once when someone bought (i.e. paid good money) for one of my books. They’re like two gestures of approval.

And it’s addictive!

So, at some point, we ask what sort of stories do our prospective readers want to read? Because there’s no point in writing if no one’s going to read it, right? RIGHT? And there comes a point at which we need to decide…


And this is a key thing. The point at which it stops being a story for you, the author, and it becomes a story for them, the readers.

This is where I am now. I’m writing some of the stories I love to write – crime. But I also have one eye on the market, asking questions like:
1) If I change the main character from male to female, would it make a difference to the marketability of the novel?
2) If I set it in a tiny village instead of a small town, would this appeal to a different market?
3) If I used a female pseudonym, would it be viewed differently?

What was that last question again? I’ll come back to that in a future blog post.

The reason I began this blog post was that I’ve recently had to divert off my track. I’m following the path of the EFFICIENT NOVELIST, and writing and publishing a book every 3 months. I had almost completed my fullsome planning of my next novel, when I suddenly remembered something – since my next book should be published by the beginning of December, I should make it a Christmas novel.


The book I’d been planning had no mention of Christmas in it at all.

So this past week, I’ve been working on a NEW novel plan. One which used the same location and main characters of the existing plan, but at a different time, and with a different theme. And it was also complicated by the fact that this is a new series, and the previous plan had all of my ‘introduction to the characters and location’ narrative in it.

No matter. The plan’s going well, and may even be finished by the end of this week, whereupon I can start crafting the manuscript. And then I’ve got some work to do to catch up.

Wish me luck!

Incidentally, I came across these recently, from https://www.carlywatters.com

Literary fiction
Upmarket fiction

Commercial fiction

It was good to see “Commercial Fiction” (my chosen sector) to be equally represented.

If you’re interested in the Efficient Novelist program, there’s a Twitter account, but it’s fairly quiet at the moment. It might be worth a follow for future updates: @EfficientNovels
And the online course and associated book will be available this autumn.

And if you found this blog post interesting or useful or a brilliant way to procrastinate, please consider buying me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/authorgeraldhornsby

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