Wednesday, April 26, 2006

That Terrible "M" Word...

No, i'm not talking about "monkey" *shudder* I'm talkin' about "Market".

It's one of those words that comes up alot in writers circles. Do you "Write the story that is driving you?" or do you "Write for the market?"

Foot, meet dead horse! Start kicking. ;)

The current marketplace kind of glares over at sci-fi with a disdainful smirk and says "Thou dost not bring in the green!" and has a rather prickly relationship with fantasy that does bring in some green, but not the big bountiful heads of cabbage that things like suspense or chick lit seem to.

If you want to write sci-fi or fantasy that can slip into the current market write it either for Young Adults. Or make it a smaller portion of the story. (Near future sci-fi or jurrassic park type technothrillers are probably your best bet there. For fantasy either go heavy on the supernatural thriller or aim at the young adult market.)

Of course keep in mind that the market will probably change by the time you're done writing the "perfect" book for it. :)

My advice is write a story that engages you and carries you away with it. But be aware of the realities within the market.

My sci-fi trilogy, currently working on the second book, focuses on a main character who is Saurian (well actually all the characters are Saurian for the first two books). It's the start of a story that has been building within me since Jr. High. I love it. I love where I want to take it. The world feels almost as real to me as a foreign land I've never been to.

Of course this about the last thing the market wants to see right now (other than maybe a vampire western story). "Why would adults buy a book about alien dinosaurs?" :p

So I have to be realistic, and while I continue to push and prod at the market, seeing if I can find a crazy publisher willing to take a very big risk, I keep my expectations in line with where the market is. I know that most publishers in CBA are most likely going to be at best very leery of it.

So what does all this rambling mean? Do I have a point? I think so.

Basically it comes down to this. Especially if you are writing your first novel.

Write the story that is burning inside of you. I believe that will lead to your best writing (and the desire to make it better than your best). But also be aware of the market and align your expectations accordingly.

If you have multiple stories screaming to get out and one matches the market better than the other. Go with that one.

In the end you have to come to peace with this question for yourself. If being published is the ultimate goal for you, then yeah trying to aim for the market may slightly increase your chances (if you are really good at blasting womprats in a t-16 at warpspeed on the otherside of a wormhole).

But most people, that I have heard from, who suddenly find themselves riding high on that marketing wave, were writing those stories long before the market cared.

So for me. I'm stickin with my Saurians. With maybe some little detours to meet up with the inhabitants of Drennor, or to hang with a giant slug, a stickman and a bubble.

Eventually the market might just catch up with me. And if not? Well, then at least I'll have truly gone someplace no other human has been. God will be there with me, and teach me through the experience.

And in the end. That's enough for me.


Blogger Becky said...

Great post, Stuart. Really well said. So let me ask you, what would you do if an agent said, I really love your writing. Do you have anything besides sci fi?


12:52 PM, April 26, 2006  
Blogger Stuart said...

I'd pull out my brainstorming (and partial first chapter) for my fantasy: Chamber of Origins. Set on the continent of Drennor, where the main character is a Dragonslayer whose memory is scribed with the memories of the last dragon he slayed.

Which is a project I dabble on in the back of my head a bit. Cool story, but not slated for full production until after my current trilogy is written (unless such a topic comes up and a request for a full manuscript is given).

Right now I'm much more jazzed about finishing off Rathe's Tale.

As for any stories that ain't sci-fi or Fantasy...

That feels as alien and otherworldly to me as sci-fi and fantasy feel to many others. :)

1:01 PM, April 26, 2006  
Blogger Camy Tang said...

GREAT post. That's exactly the attitude to take.

I'm one of the ones who was writing a story before the market crested and I'm now riding the wave. When I first started my Asian chick-lit rampage 3 years ago, no one had even heard of it and no one wanted to take a risk on it--I had several editors tell me point blank that they loved the concept but the pub board wouldn't be willing to take a risk, that it was a little too ahead of their mindset. And now? I've got a contract on that same concept.

And three years isn't really that long, either. I didn't waste time--I kept trying to improve my craft.

So you write your sci-fi dinosaurs! You never know. The only thing I know is that God's in control of all of this, and all of us.


6:57 PM, April 26, 2006  

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