Wednesday on Writing: Stop Writing for Them

Summer Sale!! During the month of July, all my books and stories will be on sale at SmashwordsThree, including the first two stories in my urban fantasy series, The Yo-Yo Files, are free. My short fantasy collection is half off, as is my latest sci-fi novel, Two’s Company. My first novel, Circle Unbroken, is at even more of a discount. Ebooks are available in many formats. The sale begins July 1 and ends July 31. I hope you find something that interests you, and please tell your friends.

I think we have all been here: You look around at the books that are selling in huge numbers. For the sake of argument, let’s say it’s vampires. Vampires are hot right now. Seems everyone is writing vampire stories: new twists on old legends and tales, new vampires, bloody vampires, shiny vampires. And you think: Huh, maybe I should write a vampire story.

Problem is, you hate vampires. Dracula is dumb, people who become blood-sucking immortals just by being bitten by another vampire seems silly, and shiny vampires? Please.

What do you do?

Well, for one thing, if you really hate it, you probably shouldn’t write it. Oh, I know- there are people who do. They can take whatever the hot story is right now, and crank out a decent, if not actually good, story in that world. But that’s not most of us. Or at least, it’s not me. If I am not enjoying the story I am writing, it will show in the finished product. I think many, if not most, writers are like this. (I could be wrong. I am, quite often.)

So, jump on the “hot right now” bandwagon or not?

My advice would be not. For one thing, vampires may be hot today, but in six months? A year? Chances are, something else will have grabbed the fickle attention of the Reader-At-Large. Unless you are a really fast writer (I am not), by the time you have drafted, revised, had critique, revised again, edited, and then submitted or gone through the independent publishing process, that hot book will be ice cold. Even if you can get it done and polished quickly, the publishing industry and the sellers will likely be so inundated with vampire stories that yours will be “Oh, hmm. Another vampire story. Tired of those.”

So, yeah, stop writing for “them”, whoever they are to you. Don’t write what you think an agent or editor wants. Don’t write what the hype machine is pushing this week. Those things change too fast to keep up. Write what you love. Write what excites you. Write the story you would want to read.

Because if you sit down at your writing desk and stare at the page, lip curled, slogging out words in a genre you just can’t get into, that’s going to affect the story. And not in a good way, most likely.

But if you sit down with a gleam in your eye, eager to get this story down in words, chuckling evilly to yourself about all the nasty things you are going to do to your characters before they win the day, that’s going to shine through, also. In a very good way.

If you can write the hot stuff right now, yeah, do it. But don’t sacrifice your enthusiasm and excitement for what might or might not still be popular when you’re done. If you write a good story, there are readers out there who will want to read it.

Don’t write for them. Write for you. They will be there.

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