Posts Tagged ‘Ploughman Chronicles’

Ever since publishing my last post, in which I stated publicly that I was gearing up to break my four-year-long novel-writing dormancy, I’ve been in a dark blue funk.

It took me a while to figure out why. Well, to be honest, I didn’t figure it out. A fellow writer (Todd Baker: grillmaster, metalhead, and memoirist par excellence) commented on my post, and his reflections shed light on my own internal strife.

I was suffering from “The Dread.” (more…)

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Kurt R.A. Giambastiani

I’m always curious, when readers leave comments about my books, as to which of my novels is their favorite and why.

The answers are always varied. Sometimes it’s the subject matter, the period, or the setting. For others, it’s the characters who populate the pages. Occasionally, it’s just je ne sais quoi, that certain “something” that resonates with a particular reader.

Recently, though, the question was turned around; someone asked me what my favorite was. (more…)

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Obey the Kitty!Are there “rules” for genre fiction?

I’ve been called out by die-hard Alternate History readers for having “broken the rules” of the genre with my Fallen Cloud Saga. Charges that I “changed too much” or that “that’s not the way it was back then” were among the most common complaints. In response, I can only shrug. There are rules? I didn’t get any rulebook. What part of “alternate world history” is confusing these people?

When I sat down to outline the The Year the Cloud Fell (FC:I), I didn’t check to see what genre label it would sport. I had an idea, I worked on it, and I wrote the story I wanted to tell. My standalone novels, Dreams of the Desert Wind and Unraveling Time, are also good examples. Each one of those books blends elements of several genres: suspense, thriller, romance, time travel, adventure, historical fiction, etc. But I never set out to write a genre-bender. I set out to write a novel.

That’s because “genre,” as it’s used today, has nothing to do with writing, but it has everything to do with marketing.

Publishers want to make money; I can’t blame them for that, but in order to ensure the best return on their investment, they want to stack the odds in their favor. One way they do that is by giving books specific “genre” labels. Humor, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, plus sub-categories like Alternate History, Steampunk, Police Procedural…these are all genre labels and yes, the fans of these genres have expectations about what will be inside a book that bears a specific label. That’s what makes the product predictable, and helps the publisher maximize profits by targeting their budget where it will do the best work.

But it has nothing to do with writing.

The book you have in mind might tick all the boxes for one of these labels. Many books do, and publishers (and agents) love that type of book because it makes their job easier. Unfortunately, none of my books fit so neatly into one category. So, should I change what I write? Should I “write to the market”?

Writing to the market is like setting out to write a blockbuster. You’re aiming at a sly, wily,  restlessly moving target. You’re having to guess, months in advance, what will pique the public’s interest, what will go viral, what will be trending upward on Twitter. In short, it’s a nearly impossible task, and if you succeed, it’ll be more luck than skill.

I write what I want to write. I build my characters, my worlds, my storylines specific to my needs, not the unwritten rules of bean-counters in marketing departments. Writing a novel is hard enough, without burdening myself with writing a book I’m not in love with.


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