Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Write what you know

We've all heard this statement before. We should write what we know. This idea is so right on the money (until you see tomorrow's blog).

Let me explain the twist to this though.

Time and time again I talk to writers that are diving into a genre because it is the hottest new thing out there. They hear that other writers are doing great things with this and therefore want to jump on the bandwagon. While this may sound like a great idea, it is most likely one of the worst approaches to take. Why? Because in all likelyhood, the writer is not familiar enough with the genre.

It is crucial for you to write in the niche that you know the best. By doing so, you understand the twists and turns to that genre that others might not get. More importantly, you understand the voice that is commonly associated with that genre.

A great example is when I read an erotica manuscript from someone that just doesn't get it. All I see is a pointless plot with a lot of graphic sex. This person clearly doesn't get that there is much more to the genre than simply the graphic imagery.

Now, for you writers that might be struggling. Check to see if you are writing in a genre you know. If not, that may be the entire problem.



  1. I think your advice to write in a genre we know is excellent. As an aspiring author, though, I'm not sure how to recognize where the lines are drawn between genres.

    I began writing a romantic suspense novel but upon completing the first draft discovered I've written a suspense novel with a touch of romance instead. Where does the line get crossed from the romantic suspense genre to the suspense only? Do I correct this by reducing the suspense, or by throwing in more romance? I've heard people say you "write the story that wants to be told," but truthfully that sounds ridiculous to me since I'm the one typing the words.

    I apologize if you've addressed this in the past; I've just discovered your blog and haven't had time to read through all of your earlier entries yet.

  2. AAARRRGGHHHHH...the last illusion gone! I hear you saying that even when you do not have to face a panting writer, you still ask for a ms., just to be nice? Oh man...on top of this miserable winter. I don't know if this makes me feel better or worse...'
    As for writing in the genre you know and buy, it is really an uphill row to be writing historicals, or historical romances, when the market has so clearly swung to paranormals and (some really awful) erotica. At least some of it is very funny. "Ho. A white woman," spoken by an Indian brave whose "brief loincloth" is continually falling off in front of the "white woman," revealing a sea slug of mythic proportion, never seen in the civilized world of White Women, apparently. (I enjoy this stuff so much I can never resisit reading it. There's awful erotica, and totally endearing erotica, of which the latter is a charming example. Can't any Indian tribe learn to sew? No wonder they lost the war. But i digress. thanks for the ever-frustrating honesty. Perhaps i need to add a bagpipe-playing and kilted Vampire to the ms. How silly can this get? A vampire haggis?