Speculative Genres

“Respect the genre you’re writing in.  In an effort to put your own stamp on it, don’t ignore the established conventions of that genre – or you’ll alienate your core audience of loyal buyers.”             Kathleen Krull

In Fantasy the established conventions are called “tropes” and include world building, swords, dark knights, wizards, quests, heroes, dark lords, ancient worlds, and magic.  Readers look forward to reading about these various things appearing and combining in their story.  I can’t blame them, ever since I was hooked by Fantasy stories three years ago, that’s nearly all I’ve wanted to read.  Not single books, but entire series because I love the worlds so much.  The magic is enchanting and the stories of heroes and quests and wizards are mesmerizing.  Add a little romance to it and, I want that!

I wanted that so badly that I wanted to write my own books, but in the middle of my first draft, toward the end, in fact, I learned that I had cancer.  I couldn’t write in my manuscript during treatment.  I was too worried and ended up just looking at my notebook, night after night.  Even when I learned it had only been a treatable form of stage one cancer, I couldn’t work on my story until the radiation treatment was complete.

When I finished my story afterward, I found out I no longer liked my story.  “Anyone could write this,” I told myself.  So I went about changing it.  I made some of the bad people good guys and I made it a Fantasy story.  Kind of a modern day Urban Fantasy, but Fantasy nonetheless, with links to ancient myths and tropes and I even had an idea for a sequel.

Ideally, I’d like to make four of this series. It is based on a story of how I wish my own life went.  I enjoy my novel so much now, but I realize there is so much that goes into a novel – scenes, showing, settings, conflict, structure, and that thing that concerns me the most, being beautifully written.  If I can master that, I tell you, I will have it all wrapped up.  Then nothing can stop me.  Not anything.

I’ll just keep taking breaths, a little at a time,

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Critics

The important thing is that you make sure that neither the favorable nor the unfavorable critics move into your head and take part in the composition of your next work.    Thornton Wilder

Too often a writer will write to please critics, or to please an editor or someone else while they work on their Work in Progress and they forget the most important thing to do is to write for one’s self and for one’s own enjoyment.  I know I would move  forward and backward trying to either write my novel to live up to my expectations and then turn ’round and try to live up to some imaginary individual’s expectations.  The most important person to be happy with your work is yourself.

We can get feedback from all kinds of people, critics, editors, beta readers, critic partners, writing groups, and so on but in the end your own instincts are the most important.  It’s the most important that your own taste is met by your writing and not someone that you’re inventing that you are concerned with impressing in some unusual sort of way.  My best intentions come out with outlines and structuring and the more I work that way, the happier I am and that I feel I am producing a better quality manuscript.

Can’t say it enough – trust your instincts, and learn as you go.  You’ll be better off if you learn to produce a quality story on your own, without trying to please others before you are even finished with your first draft, before you are even faced with rewriting!