Tuesday, December 2, 2008
What should you write?
Urban fantasies and paranormals are hot right now. Vampire (and other undead) fiction has probably never been more popular. And I’m a practical writer with an eye to the bottom line.
So why am I not writing an urban fantasy?
One reason is simple math. If I start an urban fantasy or paranormal now, it would take me perhaps six months (at best) to complete and edit it. From there, I’d have to get an editor interested. Commercially published books take about two years to hit the shelves, so it could be three years before my urban fantasy is published. Will the sub-genre still be hot at that point?
The other reason is that I write what I enjoy. I like fantasies with a twist – science introduced into a medieval scenario – and so that’s what I write. I do plan on an urban fantasy (which I think of as sub-urban, because it’s going to take place in a hellish other world), but it’s something I’ll write after I’m done with the current book, and it’s something that intrigues me, rather than something written to capitalize on the trend. If it’s never published, I’ll still be happy about having written it.
I could probably force myself to write something completely different. I’ve thought, once or twice, of writing something multicultural, because that’s also popular and Sri Lanka seems relatively untapped compared to, say, Afghanistan. But such a book would risk being either a soapbox or a therapist’s couch. And it would be work.
Fantasies, on the other hand, are fun. And they’re what I love. That love is what kept me going through more rejections than I can count, through the years it took me to learn writing skills, through blunt critiques and requests for revision. And I believe readers can tell when writers enjoy their work and when they’re pandering to current trends.
That’s not to say it’s wrong to write to someone else’s formula. If you’re planning to submit to one of the category romance lines, you’ll have to write to their requirements. But I’ll bet that the writers who succeed here are those who genuinely like what they’re writing at the same time.
Also, if the dream of your life is to write about, say, Shakespeare’s plays as re-enacted by a set of sentient cutlery, all the love in the world may not be enough to get Twelfth Knife or The Taming of the Spoon published. But at least you’ll have more fun than if you made a grim, dutiful attempt to write yet another vampire story for an increasingly glutted market.
(Image courtesy of Loren Petrich)