Guest Post: Views From Another A.M.–Write the story you were meant to write, not the one you think you are expected to write!

Today you will be entertained by a fellow blogger, another A.M. who refers to me as other A.M. And no, another and other A.M. is not any of my extra personalities. This is a guest post as promised in my last post—Riding the Wave, so without further ado, A Novel Perspective welcomes guest blogger, A.M. Schultz.

It’s never been easier for anyone to become a writer than it is today. Really, it’s a quick-punch, instant ticket to supreme coolness. You work a crummy 9-5 job, or a minimum-wage weekend gig? It’s cool, because you are a writer. A month of moderate effort, and you could be sitting on the next big potential vampire saga, or fantasy series, or horror story. Or you could be driving yourself batty trying to find a new take on a genre that is already beyond cluttered.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of the terminology gets muddled and wires get crossed—I’ve found myself trying to taxonomize the different genres, which have almost become ambiguous due to trends. There’s erotic fiction, romance, paranormal romance, occult romance, and so on. A couple powerhouses strike it big in a sub-genre, and within weeks, there are knockoffs, parodies, and a thousand new submissions that are more stale and flavorless than gas station-brand tortilla chips. There’s a ton of paint-by-number recreations out there, and I think the “art” of writing is being compromised by the money-driven genre gluttony.

Seriously, how many books are out there by first-time authors that have been directly influenced by Twilight? 50 Shades of Grey? Two franchises, THOUSANDS of knock-offs. Throw in Hunger Games and Game of Thrones (yes, Game of Thrones, because the show is PHENOMENAL), and there are thousands more.

That said, these are the major markets right now. YA is huge. Paranormal is huge. Epic Fantasy is on the rise. Thrillers and Crime novels are, have been, and always will be big sellers. Some people truly love these genres, which is awesome. Others become slaves to the trends and bigger slaves to the numbers.

If your venture into writing is solely based on bringing home the bucks, then yeah, stick to what people are definitely reading. The ones who write it well, market it well, and churn out book after book without a break will rise to the top. They’ll pay some bills, maybe take a nice vacation, and carve a niche for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that if the venture is taken seriously.

However, for the writers who struggle for months trying to shoe-horn a vampire into a story that doesn’t really require a vampire (see me, June-August 2012), then maybe genre is not for you. Or a particular genre is not for you. You can’t write convincing fiction without real passion.

For me, the genre-scene is all muddy water. I never considered myself a “horror” writer, but my short stories are tending to drift into that territory, and I’m totally fine with it; however, I don’t label myself a “horror” writer, or a “satire” writer, or a “comedy” writer—the limitations do more harm than good sometimes. Let your audience decide what you are. If you write about vampires who play hop scotch while eating yard gnomes while training for the Olympics, let that be “your” genre.

Ultimately, I think the goal of every writer should be to CREATE a demand for their product. If your desire is to write about three-armed monkeys, then write the best story you can about three-armed monkeys and give people a reason to buy into the new genre. Make your three-armed monkey story the Twilight-esque catalyst that fills up an entire row of shelves at Books-a-Million in three years with knock-offs.

Write the story you are meant to write, not the one you think you are expected to write.

-A.M. Schultz

A.M. Schultz is a student, pseudo-scholar, writer, closet-nerd,
and philosophy junkie. Predicted to become either a college professor, a full-time author, a part-time Buddhist, a selective pescatarian or a total recluse, he enjoys sporadic fits of writing in between meditation sessions, kickboxing workouts, Greek yogurt/sushi indulgences, drooling over the works of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, scribbling in his Moleskine notebooks, preparing to battle the dreaded GRE, underachieving and spontaneously traveling across the eastern United States in search of high adventure and low-country cuisine. He is set to release two novels in early 2013: RING GIRL in January, and CUSS April.

Thanks for reading. When A.M. is not busy working on custom book covers and other stuff, he can be found unleashing his ever-witty, informative insight on writing at his HEADSPIT blog  http://amschultz.com

A.M. Schultz shared his perspective. Now, share yours!

Riding the Wave–Genre Hopping Part 2

by A.M. Day

Writers dive headfirst in the craft daily. Plugging in, banging out and picking away at the habitual utterances of what is left of the conscious mind. Once creativity takes over our psyches, transporting us into the chosen themes and plots…game on. We ebb and flow endless ideas. They can come at us like a battering ram when we least expect it. We’ll scrawl illegible phrases and sentences on napkins, bills, mirrors and so on, with anything from pen to marker, to lipstick or eyeliner in a pinch. But, do we write what’s currently popular? Or, do we write what really inspires us?

The erotic romance sub-genre took on a new role this past spring when the Fifty Shades trilogy was thrust upon us, selling more than 10 million copies in record time. This caused an ongoing spark of erotica to flood bookstore shelves and the internet from well-known authors to unknowns. Sylvia Day’s erotic Crossfire series has been “all-the-rave” on social media platforms lately. Fans anxiously wait to see what happens with young Eva and the Dominant Gideon Cross this fall. Of course, these weren’t the first ladies to write erotic romance novels, but they lit a fire to the backside, giving the market a huge boost. Ann Rice, the Queen of Vamp’s, had an erotic romance trilogy first released in the 80’s, now resurfaced. And I’ve heard it’s quite steamy. I’ll be picking that trilogy up soon.

I must admit, the thought crossed my mind to put out an erotica novel and maybe I will, but for now, I’m comfortable with modern twist/Greek myth. For one, I have two due out anytime now (fingers crossed) and 1-2 more left in the series to complete, not to mention the YA spin-off series with the teens from the first few novels. But I can switch it on and off while I’m working on my screenplays.

Once again, I enlisted the help of fellow tweeters/bloggers. Melpomene Selemidis @Melpomuse concurs like most writers I’ve spoken with, citing that, “I definitely write for me, what I’m inspired by.” @Melpomuse also writes love poetry inspired by Neruda, Rumi, Homer and Greek myth. She writes YA stories as well “…because it’s a time full of passion and promise and I write adult stories to explore relationships. I love to include magic realism like, Marquez, Allende and poetic prose like, Winterson and mix genres like A.S. Byatt.” We can take from Melpomene that her inspirations come more from various authors’ styles as opposed to the new hotness covering the front-shelf displays in bookstores.

Kate Policani @KPtwitrnovel writes what inspires her also. “Without inspiration it isn’t really fun fiction.” Right you are, Kate. And without the fun, writing is a drag. Kate’s upcoming novel, “Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic” is due out this October.

Fellow blogger A.M. Schultz @am_sh feels, “A month of moderate effort, and you could be sitting on the next big potential vampire saga, or fantasy series or horror story. Or, you could be driving yourself batty, trying to find a new take on a genre that is already beyond cluttered.” With much elaboration, as I welcomed and expected, from Schultz’s engaging prose, he brings up some really interesting thoughts on the topic that I think you guys will find enlightening and entertaining as well. See his full post on my anovelperspective.wordpress.com blog as my guest blogger this week.

Last week, I created a poll to get writers’ views on the topic of riding the wave. It was no surprise that the votes came in at 100% that those 5/5 writers write what inspires them. Thank you for your votes. With that said, in the end, it really doesn’t matter whether a writer gets inspiration from popular genre/story lines. To be inspired to write anything is inspiration in itself.

There is no right or wrong answer. We write what we write, most, with no indifference to genre/story lines. Do we do our stories justice when we write them, in order to receive a strong following from our target audiences and beyond?

I think that should be the question and one we ponder regularly as we write. This is A Novel Perspective. Share your thoughts!

Thanks to fellow tweeters/bloggers for contributing. As always,You Rock!

Writers–Take the Poll: Are you riding the wave of popular story lines?

In Genre Hopping Part 1, I wanted fellow writers to express their thoughts on switching and writing in multiple genres. Before I post Riding the Wave–Genre Hopping Part 2, I would like larger feedback on how many of us writers write stories simply because it’s the new hotness or the next big thing. And the psyche is piqued to find out just how many of us write the kind of stories we want to write with disregard to social scowl.

Please take the poll below. You can let it all hang out and be as brutally honest as you like here–no judgement. Feel free to leave comments. Some of them may show up in the upcoming blog post.

Thank you all for participating in my poll. The poll is now closed. Please see wp.me/p2A1yi-2v blog post for results and Riding the Wave–Genre Hopping Pt. 2

~A.M. Day

Genre Hopping–Part 1

by A.M. Day

Should writers limit themselves to one genre? There was a time when it was almost taboo to switch genres. ‘Stick to what you know’ is still a frequently used statement. Maybe this works in non-fiction writing, but I can’t see a writer of fiction being restrained by genre limitations. Today’s genres are plentiful. And with the addition of multiple sub-genres, a good writer can write in any one of them. The flavor chosen can suit the writer’s particular personality or it might just represent a place and time the writer is at, in that moment.

I wanted to get the opinions of other writers about the ‘genre hopping’ vs. ‘stick to what you know’ topic, so I enlisted the help of a few fellow tweeters/bloggers. Sticking to what you know is probably meant in the same spirit as Chris Ledbetter @Chris_Ledbetter mentioned, “I think one should consider perfecting their talent in a single genre before trying to move on to others.”  Chris writes YA fiction and Greek mythology.

And like another fellow tweeter, Aaron Cooley @fleming17f said, “If you get lucky with a big hit, you should keep going back to that brand,” but admits, “I’d want to change it up. I couldn’t write longer than a trilogy.” Aaron is a producer exec. with his spy-fi novel Shaken, not Stirred coming this fall.

I found it interesting that the ratio 2:2 females/males opinions were actually split female/female and male/male. My two male tweeters/bloggers, for the most part, seemed okay with writing in different genres, but both heedful about genre hopping, airing on the side of caution to stick with one genre, for a while anyway. Gotta love these guys! If you read between the lines, their comments say a lot about them. They’re the kind of guys Mom and Dad would want their girls to bring home—the cautious, protective, provider type.

Sorry, Mommy and Daddy…still apologizing for the ones I brought home.

My two fellow female tweeters/bloggers were quicker to shed the ‘stick to what you know’ thought. While Samantha LaFantasie @SamLaFantasie might stick with speculative fiction, she said, “I like going through different sub-genres.” She also writes some sci-fi. Her debut novel Heart Song is out this September.

Jennings Wright @JenningsWright doesn’t hold back, confessing that she needs multiple genres. “I think I’m secretly ADD.” That’s me, too, Jennings. Talk about girl-power. I LIKE IT! Jennings released her action/adventure novel Solomon’s Throne earlier this year. Her new romance novel Undaunted Love will be out soon.

I was surprised, not so much, by the difference of opinion, but more so by the two genders opinions. Usually women are known for playing it safer than men. Hmm, I like this shift…we’re all continuing to evolve.

Well, there you have it…A Novel Perspective. Share your perspective! Do you genre hop or stick to what you know? I guess in other words, Do you stick to what works for you?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Genre Hopping—Riding the Wave. We’ll touch on writing safe or taking risks.

 

Special thanks to my fellow tweeters for all their help. You rock!