Monday, February 7, 2011

Coloring Outside the Lines

Howdy, everyone. This week's topic is in our chosen genre, do we know who we're writing for? I'm late posting and writing on the fly, which is totally not me, so please forgive the oversight. Greg has said in the past it usually helps him produce humorous posts in very little time (so I bet there is an art to it).

Who do I write for? I know my audience, because I read the genre extensively, but I don't write to them, per se. My writing was originally an escape. We won't go into the boring notion of why I needed an escape, just accept that I did. The book was never expected to succeed. It was purely for my own distraction.

Only a few months in did I decide to share it and see what people thought. Imagine my surprise when they liked it! And we're talking the way, way rough version, not the one on the shelf now. Sure, some people don't like it, but that's always going to happen when you write. Can't please all the people all the time.

But did it change how I write? No.

I listened to opinions for clarity, corrected inconsistencies when pointed out, and whether or not a scene was fleshed out enough. We won't even mention the formatting, punctuation and grammar catches (we'd be here all day listing those many infractions).

If you are going to write in a genre, you'd better know it. Know where you can make stuff up, know where to borrower from accepted beliefs (vampires and sun reactions, for example), and know when to push the envelope. But don't write a romance if you've never read one. Same for spy thrillers and horror. The reader will know.

Happily married couple as co-protagonists in an urban fantasy with sex? You betcha. Why not? If all our our writing was formulaic what would be the point in reading new books? They'd all essentially be the same, right?

I think there is no right or wrong way, you just have to do what works best for you and your story. What about you? Do you write in a convenient mold or do you color outside the lines in your genre?


  1. Aha, C.J., I must be rubbing off on you. Nice topic, though.

    And I sincerely hope you will be feeling better soon.

  2. Nice post, CJ.
    I'm always getting stuck outside the lines. I hate lines, and rules. I was a happier writer before I knew about them. But now I'm a better writer. Miserable occasionally, frustrated often, but a better writer.

  3. Thanks, Greg. I've known you almost two years now. I'm proud to say you are rubbing off on me. Your wit and voice on the page has always been something I've admired greatly. And having you tweak me every now and then in your posts just makes me smile (and sometimes literally laugh out loud). And with the way my life has been health-wise, I'm eternally grateful for every chuckle.

    Thanks, Sharon. I think sometimes when we try to succeed in this industry we're asked to much too compromise based on what the gatekeepers think works best. I often wonder how far removed they are from real readers - because for them it's all about what will sell NOW, you know?

    I'm guesting on Suburban Vampire this week talking briefly about my unique take on vampire love (sorry Greg, but hey at least mine aren't sparkly!) and am eager to see what other guests write as well.