Tuesday, 13 January 2009

New Year's Revolution - N M Browne


I thought for a New Year I am going to try a new approach to writing and come up with something that might sell well. How novel and innovative, I hear you say, how ambitious and how doomed.
Be that as it may, I have decided to have a go. So far I have a knee tremblingly handsome hero and a beautiful, feisty heroine. (I know this last is not strictly necessary, but I am a feminist and I don’t do swooners.) Should this work of potential popularity be funny or melodramatic? Should it be romance or horror? Should I try for something original - a vampire romance meets James Bond in fairyland? An everyday story of a skeletal scarred wizard with a dysfunctional family in a doomed love triangle with a teacher? Should I go for some genre bending – gothic comedy, chick lit horror - or keep it clean and neat and stick to fantasy?
That’s the trouble, there isn’t a recipe is there? I have a worrying feeling that this attempt at popularity will end up like every other – abandoned in favour of a story I can care about. I will end up doing what I always do and write whatever it is my recalcitrant imagination will deliver and hope for the best. Ah yes, our old friend hope again, would any of us ever write without it?
The trouble is that there are too many good writers, producing too many good books and while that is great for readers it is tough on writers. How do we stand out from the crowd? How do we trap the zeitgeist, hit those over stimulated teenage nerves, inspire cynical publishers to lunch, launch and love us and, more to the point, put some promotional money behind us? Damned if I know.
So, back to my heroine, do you think she should be an orphan with red hair and untapped magical powers – what if I gave her a lightning scar?

7 comments:

Lucy Coats said...

Mary H, in one of her EXTREMELY useful Fantasy Workshops seminars, advises against red hair in heros/heroines as well as any defining birthmarks. Naturally, I totally forgot about this when I created a feisty heroine with red hair, a birthmark like a cloverleaf and different coloured eyes. I know you'll write a good 'un whatever she looks like, Nicky. You always do!

Anne Rooney said...

Why no red hair? Does it make it hard to cast the star of the inevitable film of your best seller? Good luck, Nicky!

Lucy Coats said...

In my notes I just have written down: 'Red hair and green eyes--avoid stereotypes. Write against type.' There are an awful lot of red haired protagonists in fantasy books, I suppose.

Nick Green said...

Interesting conundrum. I feel that the subject of a story - what I call in my private language the 'about-ness' of a story – is the biggest mirage. People are always saying things like 'Wizard stories are big now' - 'The hot topic is teenage secret agents' - 'It's vampires' - 'It's dark fairies' etc. No. It is, and it has always been, how well the story is told. I realised this very late, in my teens, when I was reading piles of fantasy and wondering why it didn't move me as Tolkien had done. Then I stumbled into other genres and realised that genre meant nothing to me: only the story and the characters could decide whether I liked it or not. Who cares if it's a wand, a sonic screwdriver or a ballpoint pen? The story is the thing, always the story.

Marie-Louise Jensen said...

If you write romance, you have to put up with a lot of reviews saying 'sappy ending'. I still think it's worth it...

Mary Hoffman said...

I'm sure if they put that glam new photo on the back it will sell shedloads!

What hasn't been done already?

I think love affairs with centaurs would be really awkward.

Nicky said...

i could probably use an alternate version of Catherine the Great in there somewhere...