So as I’m trolling through my Facebook newsfeed I’ve been coming across something that other writers are posting more and more. It’s starting to irk me a little bit. Now, I certainly don’t mean to insult anyone here, that’s not my aim. This post is made purely out of confusion…and maybe a tad of anger.
What I’m seeing are questions like this:
“Hey guys! What do you want to see more of in the books you read?”
“What do you guys think is over done?”
“Should I write my next book about witches or about demons?”
It puzzles me when I see these pop up from authors for a multitude of reasons. Firstly I think to myself, “Why do you care?” Why do you care what people want to see more of in the books they read? That’s not a question you should be asking your potential audience. That’s a question that as a writer, you should be asking only YOURSELF.
I strongly feel that to be a writer you need to be able to sit down and write the book that YOU want to read. Vampires are not what a lot of people want to read about right now. I can’t tell you how many times people have rolled their eyes at me when I’ve told them I’m working on a vampire series and said, “Yuck! I’m so sick of vampires.” You know what? Fuck you! I like vampires and I especially like mine and if you have no love for the undead then go find another book to read. It’s not my job as an artist to please you. It’s my job to write the story I need to tell. If it involves vampires and you are cynical about that, well, that’s just too freakin’ bad buddy. Go find something else. I’m not writing for you. Not that I don’t appreciate the people who do like my stories, because I do. I appreciate the hell out of those people, but I can’t exist to please them.
I think a lot of this attitude comes from my early years of writing. When I decided that I was going to attempt to write seriously, about ten years ago now, what I first wrote were screenplays. I read everything I could get my hands on about how to write a screenplay and I apply a lot of those lessons to my novels. For instance, I have NO PATIENCE for filler! When I’m reading a book I can always smell padding. I try my best not to do it and I HATE reading books that are padded. One book I read recently, of a very popular series, was about four hundred pages. You know what? That book could have cut out at least a hundred pages and not lost any of the story at all. I won’t read the rest because a lot of it is just padding. I’d rather read a two hundred and fifty page story that is ALL story than to sift through four hundred pages of filler and purple prose.
Something else you learn as you study screenwriting is that the worst thing you can do is to try and write for the market place. Screenwriters (and other writers too I would imagine, but this is the first place I personally learned of this concept) have a word for people who write based on what’s popular or what other people tell them is a good idea. That word is HACK! When you try to write simply for sales or for the sake of gaining popularity you will quickly lose the respect of other screenwriters, the good ones anyway.
It makes me shake my head whenever I see a young writer (or any writer) asking the masses, “What should I write?” If you need to ask, perhaps you’re not a writer OR you’re ignoring the real writer within you. Writers KNOW what they want to write and do it no matter what anyone else thinks. If you want to write that rock opera staring grumpy cat then do it! If that’s what’s in your heart then write it, just give it some fucking feeling, and don’t pad it full of crap I don’t need to know and don’t care about! Make it all story, just write what’s in your heart. The world doesn’t need what other people think you should give. The world needs what you know instinctively that you have. Don’t shortchange yourself, and don’t shortchange your readers out of giving something that only you can provide. Even if it’s a topic that has been well worn, nobody will tell it quite the way you will. You don’t need anyone’s approval to write what’s in your heart, so stop asking! Grow some balls and write YOUR story!