Genre Switching for Profit

It’s just not working. Try as you might, you’ve been writing like mad but not seeing any success. You’re seeing either lackluster sales or none at all. This isn’t how you imagined writing would be. What do you do?

There may be many reasons you’re not attracting readers, some due to the genre you’ve chosen. That genre may be unpopular or out of style. It may be saturated which makes it tough for new authors to break in. It could be that your stories are too similar to those of other, more famous, authors in that genre. Perhaps you’re trying too hard, focusing on staying within genre limits rather than telling a good story.

If the problem is due to one of these reasons, have you considered switching genres? Maybe you could try that just for a while, to establish a faithful readership, and then switch back to your favorite genre.

switching genresYou might have rejected the idea of switching genres already. I can hear your reasons now:

  • “I’m no quitter. What happened to the virtue of persistence?”
  • “I hate all the other genres. My favorite is the only one I’d ever want to write in.”
  • “Right now, I might be on the brink of success. What if my next story is destined to be a bestseller?”
  • “There’s no guarantee I’ll succeed in any other genre, either.”

There’s some merit in all those reasons, but on the other hand, no one awards prizes for banging your head against a wall. Sisyphus was forced to roll that stone up a mountain, but you have a choice; you can leave the stone alone and walk away.

Here are some advantages you might experience if you try switching genres:

  • It could give you a fresh perspective. You’ve been looking at the craft through the lens of your favorite genre. With your view broadened, your writing may improve.
  • You will learn new things. As you research your new genre, you’ll benefit from the increased knowledge.
  • Whether due to the new perspective, or what you’ve learned, the experience of writing in the new genre might enable you to write better and more saleable stories in your favorite genre.
  • You might become a huge success. Sometimes, in life, you find you’re quite good at things you hate doing. Of course, phenomenal sales might make you re-evaluate whether you really hate that new genre as much as you thought.
  • You may discover that this experimental method of discarding things that don’t work and trying alternatives, is applicable in other areas of writing besides genre. It applies to writing techniques, book marketing methods, story lengths, etc.

The writing biz is full of examples of writers who achieved success by switching genres:

Author Name Initial, failed, genre(s) Success genre
Agatha Christie Spiritualism, paranormal Mystery
Horatio Alger, Jr. Essays, satirical poetry Rags-to-riches boys stories
R. L. Stine Children’s humor Children’s horror
Dean Koontz Science fiction Suspense thrillers
Louis L’Amour Adventure and Crime Westerns
Mickey Spillane Comic books Detective fiction
Mary Higgins Clark Historical fiction Thriller
Jules Verne Historical adventure Science Fiction

Regular readers of my blog know I’ve dabbled in various genres myself. Although my favorite is alternate history (especially steampunk and clockpunk), I’ve written fantasy, horror, science fiction, and even some romance. The most successful in terms of sales has been my horror story. I’m not attracted to that genre, and it’s likely that the great sales are due to other stories in the anthology besides mine. Therefore, it’s questionable whether I’d really attract more readers if I switched to writing horror.

Has this blog post caused you to consider switching genres? If you do switch, please comment and share your results, whether successful or otherwise, with—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:
December 13, 2015Permalink

Secrets of the Past

Is it possible that some amazing things happened in historical times, but never made it in the history books? Today I’ll discuss the subgenre of fiction known as secret histories.

Wikipedia’s entry provides a good definition: “A secret history (or shadow history) is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real (or known) history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars. Secret history is also used to describe a type or genre of fiction which portrays a substantially different motivation or backstory from established historical events.”

With secret histories the author can deviate from actual history as far as she’d like, but she must return things to status quo or else explain why historical accounts don’t align with her story.

For this reason, secret histories are not to be classified as alternate histories (as I mistakenly did here.  There is no permanent altering of history. Rather the world returns to the one we know. The thrill for the reader is seeing how close the world came to actually changing in some dramatic way.

Secret histories work well as thriller stories with assassins or spies, since they work in secret anyway. Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal and Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle are two examples.

I’ve written secret histories myself, but my stories involve technology, not spies or assassins. In each one I leave it to the reader to speculate how much further ahead we’d be if some inventions had occurred earlier.

9781926704012In “The Sea-Wagon of Yantai,” an inventor creates a submarine in China in 200 B.C. There are obscure references asserting that something of that sort actually happened, and those references inspired my story. The tale ends in a way that explains why more submarines weren’t made as a result of this invention.

steamcover5My story “The Steam Elephant” (which appeared in Steampunk Tales magazine) is a secret history in which a traveling group of Britons and one Frenchman are enjoying a safari from the vantage of a steam-powered elephant invited by one of the Brits. They get caught up in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. This is intended as a sequel to the two books of Jules Verne’s Steam House series.

WindSphereShip4In “The Wind-Sphere Ship,” Heron of Alexandria takes his simple steam-powered toy and uses it to power a ship. If there had been a steamship in the 1st Century A.D., it boggles the mind to think we could have had the Industrial Revolution seventeen hundred years early and skipped the Dark Ages.

LeonardosLion3fAnother secret history is “Leonardo’s Lion” which answers what happened to the mechanical clockwork lion built by Leonardo da Vinci in 1515. In the story, humanity comes very close to seeing all of da Vinci’s designs made real, which would have advanced science and engineering by centuries.

TheSixHundredDollarMan3fI’d categorize “The Six Hundred Dollar Man” as secret history too, when a man fits steam-powered limbs on another man who’d been injured in a stampede. The story takes place in 1870 in Wyoming and it’s pretty clear by the story’s end why that technology didn’t catch on.

RallyingCry3fRallying Cry” is a tale about a young man who learns there have been secret high-technology regiments and brigades in wars going back at least to World War I. Members of these teams cannot reveal their group’s existence, so it fits the secret history genre.

ToBeFirstWheels5In “Wheels of Heaven” I take what is factually known about the Antikythera Mechanism, and weave a fictional tale to explain it.

As you can see, I like writing in this sub-genre. Imagine something interesting and imaginative happened in history, write about it, then tie up all the loose ends so that our modern historical accounts remain unchanged. Leave the reader wondering if the story could have really happened. History that might have been, courtesy of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:
December 7, 2014Permalink

What a Disaster!

Today I’m exploring the world of disaster fiction. There are many, many stories dealing with disasters, from local misadventures to world-wide calamities. I’ll discuss frequently occurring themes in disaster fiction, as well as the reasons people read it. That might help you decide if you want to write such a tale.

DisasterFirst, no disaster story is truly about the disaster. If you want to write about disasters, try non-fiction. As I’ve said before, fiction is about the human condition, so your disaster story is really about the characters, their attempts to cope with the disaster, and how they grow or change as a result.

I’ll make a distinction between disaster stories and post-apocalyptic stories. In the latter, the disaster has already occurred and people are trying to handle the aftermath. In the former, the disaster occurs during the story. I’ll discuss post-apocalyptic fiction in a future blog post.

Types

Though disaster stories are about people, we can still classify them by the type of disaster that occurs, and there are plenty to choose from. You might think all the best disasters have been taken already and the reading public won’t go for one more disaster novel. You’d be wrong; since the stories are about people, there are always infinitely more stories to write.

Disasters can be natural, as with floods or tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, other significant storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, extreme climate change, asteroid or comet collisions, etc.

The disaster could be an accident, such as a shipwreck, airplane crash, train wreck, industrial accident, etc. A car crash probably wouldn’t count, since the disaster really should involve a large number of people.

There are other disasters that aren’t natural, and aren’t really accidents either. Let’s call them calamities, and separate them into plausible and less-plausible scenarios. The plausible ones include pandemics, terrorist attacks, major wars, economic collapse, and loss of electricity.

The less-plausible calamities (my own risk assessment; yours might differ) include: alien invasion, uncontrolled release of technology (such as nanotechnology, robot uprising, creation of a black hole, creation of a super-disease or super-creature, etc.), zombie apocalypse, “return” of vampires or werewolves, and attacks by menacing (usually gigantic) animals.

Themes

You’ll find some common themes in disaster stories. Here’s a partial list.

• Despite how far humans have progressed, we need reminding we are small and weak creatures in a big, dangerous universe.
• As disaster looms, people will react differently, going through the Kübler-Ross ‘Five Stages of Grief’ at different rates.
• A large-scale disaster will collapse the normal societal structure, and other structures will form.
• A disaster brings together strangers who must form a team with a common purpose, such as survival.
• A main character must overcome a personal fear or other psychological flaw and rise to the situation.
• A former leader cannot cope with the disaster; a new and unlikely leader must take charge.
• Often the protagonist’s main goal is either survival (of a group) or rescue of others.
• There are good and bad human reactions to disasters, and the characters who react badly often (though not always) meet a bad end. For example, preparation is better than assuming an unchanging future; clear thinking is better than panic, teamwork is better than uncaring self-centeredness; natural leadership is better than using a chaotic situation to claim power; focusing on the goal is more productive than blaming or finding fault.

Purpose

Why do people read disaster stories? These are among the reasons:

• It’s a chance to “experience” the disaster in a safe way, without having to endure it for real.
• The stories can be taken as metaphors for how we can deal with the smaller-scale mishaps of daily life.
• The tales can be metaphors for some perceived societal defect, as in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.
• The stories offer lessons in preparation as old as the ant & grasshopper fable.

Conclusion

51aDCvEwjvLI would classify only one of my stories as a true disaster tale. “The Finality” appeared in the anthology 2012 AD by Severed Press. In it, a scientist discovers that time itself is coming to an end, not just on Earth but throughout the universe, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. But just maybe the Mayans were trying to tell us something about that.

May all your disasters be the written kind; that’s the hope of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:
November 30, 2014Permalink

Your Writing Voice

Writers VoiceWe call it laryngitis when you lose your voice, but what if you never found it in the first place? To be clear, I’m not writing about a medical condition of the larynx, but rather about your writing voice.

Definition

What is a writing voice? I liken it to your vocal voice in that it is distinctively yours, an individual indicator like your fingerprints, your retina patterns, and your signature. It’s a marker that can be used to identify you.

In other words, a few paragraphs could be taken at random from your published stories, and a reader might be able to recognize that you’re the author.

Is your writing that identifiable? Is it unique? If not, how can you get to that point?

Two Elements

Before we arrive at a way to answer those questions, I’ll cover what I believe to be the two elements of a writer’s voice.

The first is the subject, the topic about which you commonly write. This can take the form of a genre or themeSomeday when you have compiled a full body of work and your name comes up, if people say, “That’s the author who writes about ______,” it’s that ‘______’ that forms part of your voice.

The other element has to do with style. It’s not just the subjects you write about, it’s how you do it. The Wikipedia article on Writer’s Voice suggests that this element; a combination of character development, dialogue, diction, punctuation, and syntax; is all there is to a writing voice. I’m not willing to discount the subject/topic element, though.

Discovery

How do you find your voice? This marvelous blog post by author Todd Henry provides a great way to help you find your voice by answering ten questions. These questions help you reach your inner passions and hopes. In this way you’ll touch the deep emotions and motivations inside.

Why does that method work, for discovering your voice? Certainly the answers will help you determine the subject half of your voice. The answers will suggest topics you should write about or genres to write in. Only by tapping in to your central core of strong enthusiasms will you be able to sustain the discipline to complete what you start to write. If you work at it, those deep hopes and passions will become evident in your writing.

What about the style element? How are you supposed to discover that? I’m not sure answering Todd Henry’s ten questions will answer that. I believe your writing style is a matter of imitation early on, then leading to experimentation, and finally perfecting.

No Guarantee

Let me set some expectations about this process of finding your writing voice. In the end, you’ll have a unique voice, one recognizable as you. That doesn’t mean anyone else wants to hear it. This isn’t a recipe for fame or financial success in writing.

I’ll write a blog post sometime laying out the sure-fire, step-by-step formula for how to become famous and rich by writing.

Sure. Keep checking back for that one.

What’s the point, you’re asking, of this voice discovery process? Why go through it? I’d answer that all the authors who are famous, or rich, or whose writing is considered classic, all of them have a distinctive writing voice.

I think finding your voice is necessary, but not sufficient, for success. You might discover your writing voice only to learn it’s not marketable. If high sales numbers are what you’re after, experiment more. Try slight alterations of voice until you hit the combination of subject and style that sells.

Best of luck to you in finding your writing voice. Still searching for mine, I’m—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:
October 19, 2014Permalink

Fiction Elements by Genre

In earlier posts I’ve blogged about the various elements of fiction (Character, Plot, Setting, Theme, and Style). I’ve also blogged a bit about the various genres of fiction. Here I thought I’d explore how the various genres emphasize certain elements and de-emphasize others.

For the chart, I used the genres listed in the Wikipedia “List of Genres” entry. As the entry itself points out, people will never agree on this list. Even more contentious will be my rankings in the chart for how much each genre makes use of each fiction element.

Fiction elements vs GenreFor each genre, I assigned my own rough score for each fiction element. I’ve placed the genres in approximate order from the ones emphasizing character and plot more, to the ones emphasizing style and theme more.

Go ahead and quibble about the numbers I assigned. That’s fine. There’s considerable variation within a genre. Also, the percentages of the elements vary over time. If we took one hundred experts in literature and had them each do the rankings, then averaged them, the resulting chart would have more validity than what I’m presenting, which is based on my scoring alone.

But the larger point is that the different genres do focus on different elements of fiction. In my view, character is probably the primary element for all but a few genres. Theme is probably the least important, except for a limited number of genres.

Of what use is such a chart? First, please don’t draw an unintended conclusion. If you happen to know which elements of fiction are your fortes, and which you’re least skilled in, I wouldn’t advise you to choose a genre based on that.

Instead, look at the chart the opposite way. Find the genre in which you’d like to write, and work to strengthen your use of its primary fiction elements in your own work. You might even glance at the genres on either side of your favorite one and consider writing in those genres too.

I can’t seem to find online where anybody else has constructed a chart like mine. Perhaps the only one you’ll see is this one made by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:
September 28, 2014Permalink

Formula for Success

Have you ever written formula fiction? Is it good or bad to do so?  What is it, exactly?

formula 2If your story re-uses the plot, plot devices, and stock characters of other stories, then you’ve written formula fiction.  It’s different from the term genre, in that genre fiction makes use of the same setting and style as other works within the genre, but genre fiction may vary plot and characters considerably.  I termed such writers formulists in a brief discussion here.

Although literary critics tend to dismiss formula fiction, there are so many published stories, it’s difficult to come up with entirely new plots and characters.

Usually there’s a good reason why a writer chooses a formula.  It works!  It’s a curious thing that readers enjoy reading formula fiction.  They’re comfortable with the character types, and although they know how the story will come out, they follow along anyway.  Readers can forgive a great deal if the author tells the story in an interesting way.

I’ll discuss plot types in a future blog post, but with formula fiction there’s no real attempt to vary from a proven plot line too much.  Just re-use what’s been done before, perhaps with slight deviations in setting or style, or specific plot events.

The use of stock characters frees the writer from having to include a lot of explanation or description.  After only a few words, the reader understands all there is to know.  Again, it’s possible to vary a bit from the standard character type, but there’s little need.

I said it’s a curious thing that readers would enjoy formula fiction, but perhaps it’s not so mysterious.  Before there was a formula, there was an enterprising writer (or oral storyteller) who conveyed the story for the first time.  It struck a chord.  It was successful.  After that, why not just do variations on a popular and effective theme?

Examples of formula fiction include romance, horror fiction, and space opera.  Each of these has withstood the test of time because each has appealing characteristics that really reach an audience, and keep on reaching generations of new readers.

In the case of romance fiction, readers enjoy the odd or awkward meeting (the ‘meet-cute’) between man and woman characters who seem opposite or ill-fitting at first, then they warm to each other, only to have a parting of the ways, and finally reunite in love at the end.  An overdone plot line?  Apparently not yet, since this formula sells more books than any other by far.

In horror fiction, at least the cinematic type, the audience sees a mixed-gender group of characters who are isolated in some way and face a horrible entity bent on their destruction.  One by one the characters are killed until only a lone female—the so-called final girl— is left to either defeat the entity or escape.  Another plot line that has not run its course.

For space opera, readers are treated to a heroic character in the distant future, somewhere in outer space, confronting a menace threatening the survival of the hero’s people.  The hero strives against the evil force, and just when it appears all is lost, the hero is able to defeat the menace.  This formula continues to work.

Despite what critics might say, there’s nothing wrong with formula fiction, particularly if you’d like to sell your stories.  There’s plenty of room within the constraints of the formula to display your creativity as a writer.  So, like a mad scientist (Mwahahaha!), go ahead and use your (fiction) formula to take over the world!  Good luck, says—

                                                            Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:

The 7 Types of Genre Writers

Some time ago I stated there were two types of great writers—pioneers and giants.  What about all the writers who aren’t great?  Today I’ll expand on my pioneer/giant idea and discuss seven types of writers, as they apply to genre fiction.  I’m not going to list any authors here, but I’ll bet certain names will come to mind as you peruse each type below.

pioneer1.  Pioneers.  These are writers who start a new genre of fiction by themselves.  They discover it.  They often have difficulty finding a publisher initially, since the publisher doesn’t know what to make of a book that doesn’t fit established categories.  Such authors may never be known for the quality of their writing, but will always be remembered as the first to discover a genre.

Copier2.  Copiers. Authors in this category pretty much follow in the footsteps of the Pioneers.  They recognize a new, ripe genre and suspect it might appeal to readers; they don’t stray from ground already trod by earlier writers.  Their books need not be outstanding, just available right away, and designed to appeal to readers hungry for that genre.

formula3.  Formulists.  This type overlaps Copiers a bit, and consists of writers who use a standard plot and only a few basic character types, and stick with them in novel after novel.  Sometimes Formulists develop these models on their own, and sometimes they pick up formulaic plots and archetypal characters from others.  Often such authors can develop a loyal following that remains with them.

surveyor4.  Surveyors.  While the Copiers and Formulists ply their craft along well-traveled paths, the Surveyors are interested in exploring the far reaches of the genre.  They look to the boundaries, experimenting with stories that barely fit within the genre’s borders.

giant5.  Giants.  These are authors of great skill who begin writing in an established genre and make it even more popular.  It is these authors whom we look back on and identify them with the genre itself.

mixer6.  Combiners.  After a genre is well-established and explored, and perhaps starting to get a bit stale, Combiners come along to mix the genre with other genres.  Such books can take the form of mashups and be intended as humorous.  It’s possible for Combiners to end up creating new subgenres.

nostalgist7.  Nostalgists.  Some genres eventually run their course and die out, or at least trail off to a minimum.  Westerns seem to be headed this way.  Nostalgists can come along with books that harken back to the dying genre, attempting to revive it, perhaps with new twists.

I don’t mean to imply there’s anything wrong with any of these types of writers.  All are legitimate.  There’s room in the various genres for each of them, and they can all make money.

Which type of writer, you’re asking, am I?  At first I dabbled in various genres, responding to my muse’s whisperings.  Lately it seems I’ve written mainly in the Alternate History subgenre, and my stories focus on people’s interactions with technology.  I’d have to say I’m more of a Copier than any of the other types.  Maybe most authors are of that type.

My turn:  which type of writer are you, or which do you aspire to become?  In my listing, did I miss any types?  Leave a comment for—

                                                Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:
December 15, 2013Permalink

Meet the Punk Family

If you’re into science fiction, particularly alternate history or speculative fiction, there are some interesting sub-genres to be aware of.  They all have -punk in their name:  cyberpunk, clockpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, and atompunk.

Punk FamilyI’ve blogged about steampunk before, but here I’ll step back and introduce the Punk family.

  • Cyberpunk. This term describes fiction involving a world of the near future where computer technology has made life miserable and degraded society.  Author Bruce Bethke is credited with coining the term in 1980 in connection with his short story “Cyberpunk.”  Major writers of cyberpunk include Pat Cadigan, William Gibson, and Bruce Sterling.  Some cinematic examples of cyberpunk are 1984, Blade Runner, Mad Max, the Terminator movies, and Tron.  In my graphic I’ve depicted it as the parent of the Punk Family since it came first.
  • Clockpunk.  This refers to fiction set in a time when metal springs are the primary technological energy storage mechanism, an era prior to the invention of the steam engine.  A player of the Generic Universal RolePlaying System (GURPS) invented the term.  Clockpunk authors of note include Jay Lake, S. M. Peters, and Terry Pratchett.
  • Steampunk.  This subgenre depicts settings with steam-powered mechanisms, often in time periods similar to the nineteenth century.  Author K. W. Jeter invented the term in 1987.  Early giants of steampunk literature include James Blaylock, K. W. Jeter, and Tim Powers, though there are many, many writers continuing in their footsteps.  Movie examples of steampunk include Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Prestige, Sherlock Holmes, Van Helsing, and Wild Wild West.  I think it’s fair to say this child of cyberpunk has surpassed its parent and all its siblings in popularity.  It has spawned a culture all its own with jewelry, clothing, art, music, and dedicated conventions in addition to books.
  • Dieselpunk.  In Dieselpunk we see the gasoline-based technology of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.  Game designer Lewis Pollak came up with the term in 2001.  Authors of dieselpunk include David Bishop, Robert Harris, Brian Moreland, and F. Paul Wilson.  Some examples of dieselpunk movies are Rocketeer and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.  As with steampunk, dieselpunk also comes with its own visual style — art deco.
  • Atompunk.  This refers to fiction set in the exuberant post World War II age, the Atomic Age.  I couldn’t find anything about who coined the term.  Some atompunk authors are Adam Christopher and Dante D’Anthony.  I don’t know of any atompunk movies made since the sub-genre emerged, but many science fiction movies of the 1950’s can be thought of as proto-atompunk.  There are associated visual styles with atompunk, too:  Googie Architecture, Populuxe, and Raygun Gothic.

There are other, lesser known, members of the Punk family:  Decopunk, Biopunk, Nanopunk, Stonepunk, Nowpunk, Splatterpunk, Elfpunk, and Mythpunk.  Perhaps if these attract sufficient readers, I’ll blog about them too.

The ‘-punk’ aspect of each of these is meant to convey that these are not celebrations of the technology in question.  The idea in these stories is to convey dark and disturbing faults in the societies driven by the technology, and by extension, to point out analogous problems with our own modern society.

My steampunk stories include “The Steam Elephant,” “The Wind-Sphere Ship,” (call that one Iron Age steampunk), “Within Victorian Mists,” “A Steampunk Carol,” “The Six Hundred Dollar Man,” and the upcoming “Rallying Cry.”

I’ve written a couple of clockpunk stories too:  “Leonardo’s Lion” and “A Tale More True.”

Perhaps you’ll enjoy getting to know the Punk Family.  They’re an odd bunch, but they’re getting more famous every day.  Leave a comment and explain what you think about them to the world and to—

                                                        Poseidon’s Scribe

Please follow and like me:
November 24, 2013Permalink

Blog Hop – The Next Big Thing

Many thanks to Charlotte Holley who tagged me to participate in The Next Big Thing blog hop.  I didn’t know what a blog hop was but it seems like fun.  In this one, authors answer questions about their Work in Progress (WIP) and people can follow the links along and see what various writers are working on.  That way readers can anticipate and check back later to buy the books they’re interested in.  It’s possible that one or more authors in this chain may really be working on The Next Big Thing!

When you’re tagged for this particular blog hop, you post your answers the following Wednesday and tag five other authors for the following Wednesday.  Here are my answers:

1. What is the working title of your book?  “A Tale More True”

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?  If I recall correctly, I was thinking about fanciful trips to the Moon in early literature.  I’m a fan of Jules Verne, but he’s actually a latecomer to that topic.  While researching, I came across references to Baron Münchhausen.  My story then sort of sprang into my head.

3. What genre does your book fall under?   It’s alternate history, in the subgenre of clockpunk.  I’ve not written much clockpunk, my story “Leonardo’s Lion” being the exception.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie renditionThere are three characters of interest.  The protagonist is Count Eusebius Horst Siegwart von Federmann.  Count Chris HemsworthFedermann could be played well by actor Chris Hemsworth.  He’d have to speak English with a German accent, but doesn’t have to do it well, since it’s a comedy.  Count Federmann is a brooding character, angry at and jealous of Baron Münchhausen.  The Count is intelligent, determined, and optimistic, but lacks sense.

 

Shia_LabeoufThe Count has a young French servant named Fidèle, and I’ll select Shia LaBeouf for that role.  Mr. LaBeouf would have to speak English with a French accent, but not an especially good one.  Fidèle is full of life, but has the sense to fear danger, though he’s always respectful of nobility.

 

 

The character Baron Hieronymus Carl Friedrich von Münchhausen only appears briefly at the beginning and end of the story.  Since it’s a cameo role, I’ll splurge and pick Robin WilliamsRobin Williams.  I need an older character of plain appearance who’s able to speak English with a German accent and captivate an audience with his words alone.  Robin Williams played the part of the King of the Moon in the 1988 Movie “The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen.”  

 

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your bookA man is so angry about the self-aggrandizing lies of Baron Münchhausen that, just to prove the Baron wrong, he constructs a gigantic metal spring and launches himself to the Moon, where he learns about the nature of Truth.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I will offer it to Gypsy Shadow Publishing to be included in my What Man Hath Wrought series.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  I’m not done with the fist draft yet.  I researched, planned, and outlined the story for about a month.  First and second drafts will take another month.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  It’s a light-hearted clockpunk tale, so there aren’t many comparable stories.  Perhaps the closest thing is that movie, “The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen.”

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?  The muse speaks.  I listen and write it all down as fast as I can.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  Come on—intense jealousy, a space voyage in 1769, and weird Moon creatures.  What more do you want?

At this point I should mention which authors I’m tagging next in this blog hop, but I was unsuccessful in getting any to participate.  I think the hop has been going for about thirty weeks now, with most authors tagging five others.  If you do the math for such a chain, you’ll see how, theoretically, we’d pass the population of the earth in Week 15, and by Week 30 there would be over 2 with 20 zeroes participants.

There only seems to be that many budding authors in the world.  So much for theory.  As Yogi Berra said, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice there is.”

So I won’t be tagging anyone else.  This strand of the chain ends here, with my alter ego, a guy I like to call—

                                                       Poseidon’s Scribe

 

Please follow and like me:
December 19, 2012Permalink

Romancing the Short Story

Bet you didn’t expect me to write a blog entry on writing romance short stories, did you?  Well, for one thing, if you desire to become an author, you should learn to write about anything, even topics or genres you know little about or have little interest in.  You never know what you’ll end up being good at.

Second, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the romance genre has a vast and insatiable readership.  Perhaps not so much in the short story length as in the novel length, but again, what if you’ve got a potentially great romance writer inside you, but you never try the genre to find out?

And, it turns out I have written a couple of short story romances.  “Within Victorian Mists” is a steampunk romance, and “Against All Gods” is a romance story set in Ancient Greece.  So I am nominally qualified to discuss the topic.

To figure out what’s special or different about romance short stories, let’s start with basics.  Any fictional story must have certain elements, including character, plot, conflict, setting, style, and perhaps theme.  We’ll dispense with the last three by saying that romance stories can take place in just about any setting, be written in any style, and can explore just about any theme.

Romance stories are character-driven.  The characters must be intriguing and complex.  The point-of-view character should have aspects with which readers can identify and empathize.

The plot is the emerging love between the characters.  Choose your events such that they enable the characters’ love to either develop, or be tested, or both.

The conflict is the protagonist’s struggle to attain love itself, not the sexual act or the fleeting emotions of love, but the deep and shared realization that the two major characters cannot live without each other.

In a short story, you’re going to have to be choosy.  It’s very difficult, in just 1000 to 10,000 words, to encompass the typical progression of a love story in its entirety, from the first meeting, through the burgeoning attraction, through the testing or challenge, to the final realization of love.  There’s a natural pace to the process of falling in love, and the short story length doesn’t fit that pace as well as the novel length does.

Consider selecting one vignette, one emotion-charged event of a larger love story, and leave the earlier parts as backstory, and just hint at the later events.  To explain what I mean, let’s consider what Christie Craig and Faye Hughes describe as the plot points of a romance story, the events that sum up to the plot arc:

  • Introduction/meeting
  • First acknowledgement of attraction
  • First acknowledgement of emotional commitment
  • Dark moment (what I’d call a test of love’s strength)
  • Resolution

Your short story could consist of just one of those events, and hint at the rest.  Charge your story with emotion, and ensure the protagonist experiences an internal change in the direction of love, and that could be sufficient.  It might be all you can manage within a short story format.

Have you written a romance short story?  Submitted it for publication?  Leave a comment and let me know what happened.  When you began writing did you ever think you’d write a romance? No?  Neither did—

                                                                Poseidon’s Scribe

 

Please follow and like me:
November 11, 2012Permalink