Gotta Write Who You Are

Photo © 2009 Ahmad Hammoud CC BY 2.0

In How To Write Page-Turning Scenes, Holly Lisle tells the story of a writer who lived SF. He decided to write a fantasy-comedy, just because he thought he could sell it. And sell it he did. And then he sold another one, and then again and again and again… ten titles. Except it made him miserable.

As Holly tells the story, “he hated the book, hated the readers for being so stupid that they liked that crap (his words, not mine), hated the fact that fantasy comedy was the thing that had done well for him, because he hated fantasy, he hated comedy, and he’d just done it because Robert Asprin and Piers Anthony were at the time raking in the dough with fantasy comedies… When I talked to him at a con one year, he was one miserable dude. He’s doing work-for-hire now.”

I’ve never forgotten that story.

Holly has filled Page-Turning Scenes with excellent advice about how to, uh, write page-turning scenes. Ironic, that in the midst of it all, this sidebar story has glued itself to my memory.

Then today, R.A. Evans told his story, with a flip-side theme:

There was a time when I ran from the label of being a “horror writer”. It’s tough enough as a self-published author to be taken seriously, but adding the extra burden of a horror tag to my bio made the chances of people rolling the dice on my projects even scarier – and not in a good way!

Like Holly’s mystery-author, R.A. thought about switching genres. In his case, it didn’t even require writing another book.

My plan was to adjust my author platform, but instead of labeling my books as horror I would check the box next to Urban Fantasy. I just couldn’t pull the trigger on it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not nearly the genre snob I appear to be – to each their own is my philosophy. But then a funny thing started happening – my books started selling…

The problem hadn’t been that I had written a horror novel. The problem was that I hadn’t embraced being a horror author.

(Go read his entire story over at Joanna Penn’s blog: “The Stigma Of Writing Horror: How The Genre You Write Matters As Much As The Story”.)

At some point, at some level, we all identify with the stories we write. How to do that safely and successfully is a different post. But to do it, period…

How can we help but be what we write? What do you think?

Keep writing!


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