writing rengeek magpie mind

October 2014

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writing rengeek magpie mind

ten things I have learned from writing popular fiction

  1. Most people do not read. They skim, and make assumptions. This tendency, however, can be manipulated.
  2. It helps if you honestly like to blow stuff up. Or at least write about blowing stuff up.
  3. All books are broken. Some are less broken than others. Some are broken in ways that a particular set of readers do not mind in the least. If you can find out the group of people who do not mind the ways in which your books are broken, you have identified your target audience. Unfortunately, this fact does not excuse you from actually learning to write.
  4. Can't please nobody if you try to please everybody.
  5. In terms of the market, the quality of your voice is often more important than what you have to say, unless what you have to say is really interesting.
  6. What you have to say matters, anyway.
  7. If you make it too accessible, people will assume it's not artistic. If you make it too artistic, people will assume it's not accessible. Go ahead and blow something up if it makes you feel better.
  8. Despite the number of people who will write in to tell you that they never read the sex scenes, sex does, in fact, sell. It does however mean that if you put the major plot revelations in sex scenes, a certain percentage of your audience will not notice them. [8(a).] don't put the crux of the plot in the middle of the homoerotic kissing scene you've been building to for three books: nobody will notice. Even the ones who aren't skimming.
  9. Be honest. Not all readers can tell when you're phoning it in, but a significant fraction can, and they will despise you for it. And while it might in fact make rejection and critical dismissal hurt less when you can tell yourself that it wasn't your best effort, it's still cheating.
  10. There is always somebody better paid, more acclaimed, or whose books will make you turn green with jealousy. It is the nature of the universe. Carry on.

 

Comments

on't put the crux of the plot in the middle of the homoerotic kissing scene you've been building to for three books: nobody will notice

However, the reason people skim the sex scenes is that they don't do anything. (funny, in my fiction I never use italics almost but in comments and stuff I use them a lot)

I think sex scenes should always do something important -- maybe not the crux of the matter, but something important -- even if it means that some readers have to go "huh?" a few pages later and read back to figure out what just happened.
If *any* scene isn't doing anything, it doesn't belong in the book. That goes for sex scenes, fight scenes, and scenes in which the protag is putting on his shoes.
What about when things are blowing up ;).

Nope. They have to blow up in a plot related manner.
...damn. Guess I still need a plot.

I think blowing things up is the SF equivalent of bringing in a man with a gun. When in danger or in doubt...

I think I need a writing grenade icon. Or something of the sort.
Your blowing things up doesn't have to serve the plot though: it can serve something else in the story.

Actually I think sudden first contact, and here lately singularity, are the SF equivalents of bringing in a man with a gun.
I usually kill somebody. But then, I do that a lot anyway.

skzbrust says he feeds people. *g*
skzbrust says he feeds people. *g*

...to what?

O.o
:: icon lurve ::
Hmm. I think the reason (a reason) that people skim sex scenes is that they're boring. Which can certainly be a function of not-doing-anything...but doing-something doesn't make the scene unboring if the writing, etc., is still generic. In other news, I just peeked at your journal and see you taking issue with the slip and slide of the word 'amateur.' Would it be okay if I stuck around?
Yes. Because people will write scenes that look like sex scenes, rather than scenes in which sex takes place as part of the larger narrative.

It's that whole shorthand symbol (cliche?) versus fabulous reality thing.

As demonstrated rather graphically in my real people slash post the other day.
As demonstrated rather graphically in my real people slash post the other day.
Oh noooooo! I missed a post somewhere :-(
http://matociquala.livejournal.com/753803.html

*g* I am just full of gifts for my friends.
Of course. Everybody likes attention. Even those who hate it.
I can pretend to me ignoring you, if that would help. *g*
> However, the reason people skim the sex scenes
> is that they don't do anything.

They do something to me.

At least, they ought to. I don't mind little digressions in a book, if they are interesting or well-written.
matociquala: Let me echo everyone else who said this is a great post!

Also, I'm suddenly reminded of that line in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives: "You use sex to express every emotion except love." While I'd hate to be in a situation where I end up saying that (or being told that, for that matter), it sounds like a pretty good way to look at sex scenes in fiction.