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!

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!

Write To Fall

A Season To Write Series

by A.M. Day

Writing has always been synonymous with breathing to me. Whether jotting down notes, to-do-lists or grocery lists for Mom–writing is writing. And because I was never one to bite my tongue as a kid, venting on paper worked sometimes after Mom made me write hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of lines for punishment.  I even wrote the occasional ‘You’re On My Sh*! List’ lists for high school bullies and neighborhood evildoers.  

“If you take my computer, I will write with pen. If you take my pen, I will write inside my head. I will write long after I can no longer write, I will write until I’m dead.” ~A.M. Day

With that said, by now, everyone who knows me knows that writing is a part of me, like a kidney or a limb. But is there a particular time in a writer’s life that said writing thrives more than in other times? It has been said that the phases of the moon brings about certain energies in one’s life and I believe that is true for some writers when it comes to seasons.  

Begin the begin–The smell of ‘crumble under your feet’ leaves are upon us (and not the ones left by the drought). I’m talking about fall leaves in the Midwest. And as fall fast approaches, I find myself pillaging the cleaning and home fragrance aisles at the local Walmart to pull together that perfect balance of fall scents. Sweet Vanilla and Pumpkins from Airwick won out over the regular Apples and Cinnamon this year. 

Fall…one of my favorite seasons and I can’t wait! It evokes new life and endless hope in me. The cells in my body get a little perkier and renewed (I am a ‘fall baby’). Smelling the crispness of Wisconsin’s night air…it has a hint of fall, swirling between the subtle notes of smoked-wood and patiently-waiting morning dew. A ghostly whiff of Mom’s peach cobbler with the most delectable crust and Grandma’s fry-pies creep inside my memories of childhood.  And I actually celebrate the season change on the first day of fall every year. Hot cocoa w/marshmallows and hot apple cider pleasantly dance in my mouth at night along with Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee from the local coffee house before bed. 

With fall comes a slew of things for me to get done…write, write and write some more. I write in all seasons, but I write to fall the best! I think it’s because most of my best life-memories happened in the fall season. 

What season does your writing thrive in the most? And, why? Share your season with me. I would love to hear about it!