Much of my time I spent actually writing. However, some of my time I spent really looking at my career and my writing and deciding where I'm going to go from here. Some questions I considered were:
* What elements connect all of my characters?
* What common threads run through all of my work?
* What plots and themes most move me?
The experience was an eye opener. One I highly recommend.
|photo by mantasmagorical from MorgueFile.com|
I write screenplays and poems, novels and short stories. I write science fiction, fantasy, women's fiction, children's stories, middle grade fiction, family fare, and darker, edgier stuff. I happen to think some of the stuff I write is funny -- but realize that not everyone shares my rather warped sense of humor. It certainly wouldn't be classified as "comedy."
So I wracked my brain. Since all my writing comes from ME, I reasoned that there must be some common threads and recurring themes. And slowly -- painfully slowly -- they became clear.
I discovered several things about my writing. For instance:
* I write quirky, unselfish characters with hidden strengths and highly individualized but uncompromising integrity.
* I gravitate toward bittersweet stories, antiheroes, and tragic characters.
* My characters are often trapped in situations from which they cannot safely escape, but which ultimately lead to glory.
* Every major character of mine has almost pathological perseverance.
It literally took me hours to come up with these attributes. When I mentioned them to a writerly friend who is familiar with my work, she responded:
"It is so your writing down to a fine sharp point."And she's right. (Though maybe I could have saved a ton of time if I'd asked her to answer the questions for me in the first place.)
|photo by andalusia via MorgueFile.com|
Since I don't specialize in a particular genre, it's easy to assume that my writing is fragmented; disconnected; that one work is completely dissociated from another, as if I just wander from project to project dumping word clumps on whatever happens to pique my fancy.
Ah, but it's not the genre that connects my works to each other. No. Instead, they are connected by characteristics, themes, and situations.
I now have a whole new feel for my material as a whole, rather than as a series of unconnected pieces. Better yet: I have a far greater understanding of who my ideal readers are.
* My ideal readers like quirky characters with hidden strength and unwavering integrity.
* My ideal readers appreciate antiheroes and the occasional bittersweet tragedy.
* My ideal readers like to root for the underdog, knowing that sacrifice is often the key to success.
* My ideal readers admire characters who refuse to give up, regardless of the odds.
I love being a genre-free writer. But I don't want to be a reader-free writer. Answering those four questions helped give me greater insight into my work. Now that I know what I have to offer my ideal readers, I am better equipped to find them.
Do you write genre-stuff or non-genre-stuff? What common threads connect your words? How do those threads then weave a pattern for your audience?