Writing experiment, pattern recognition, and more about why I don’t write for an audience!

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Interesting looking flower that grows on a wall surrounding the bar next to the coffee house where my writing group meets.

As some people know while I’m waiting to hear back from my publisher about The Light Side of the Moon, I’ve been doing a series of writing experiments.

I’ve been rereading some of my favorite books from different authors to quantitate how much description, dialogue, action, etc there is, then looking at my own writing in ways I can improve.

It started with reading Stephen King’s The Shining and Dr. Sleep. I like Stephen King’s style. It’s fast and fun. I began thinking why was The Shining scarier. One word: Isolation

Now the way this experiment works is, I read the book for fun, not looking for anything and then go back to analyze what works and what doesn’t.

I also reread in whole or in part

A few weeks ago, one of my friends talked about how if you write for an audience, one gets readers in that audience and eventually can transcend that audience as more people read the book. People who follow my blog know that is not how I write, but I was willing to get more information on the topic. So then I looked at genre tropes.

***** 

So this is what I learned:
As a reader, if I don’t have an emotional connection with the characters, the author has failed me.

As an author, if I cannot build an emotional connections with the characters for the reader, I have failed the reader.

On to the quantitative:
I tend to be description light and dialogue heavy, but I’ve my own voice and even though it changed drastically between Other Systems and The Light Side of the Moon, it is MY style of writing. What is really interesting about this experiment is I tend to enjoy books that are description light and dialogue heavy with lots of surprises. Yes, I use either consciously or subconsciously genre tropes. (For example:I glossed over HOW Harden figured out the stabilization issue with FTL travel.)

I don’t care about romantic subplots. I like real romance of a faithful husband and wife team, (or husband/husband team, wife/wife team)  rather than people so lost in lust that they forget their duty to everything else in life or worse the two people are in danger and are so wrapped up in being in lust with the other person, they ignore the danger.  Is this why I have problems writing romantic subplots?

I admit when I nervously think of the fate of The Light Side of the Moon, I have two worries

1) The length. It’s pretty epic at 130,000 words

2) Is the romantic subplot what people like when they read romantic subplots? Especially because it isn’t two people who are wildly in love with each other from the first moment that they meet. Nor do they hate each other.

Now the question becomes: why I write that way? Did reading too much Stephen King as a kid, propel my writing in a specific direction? I don’t have an answer. I only have the data.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Joe Follansbee on January 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    There’s a subtle difference between letting a good writer influence your work, and copying the style of a writer you admire. The former comes from confidence about yourself and your writing, the latter from insecurity about yourself and writing. In my own case, I’ve been studying the style of Raymond Chandler for a sci-fi project that has elements of the “hard-boiled detective” novel in it. Chandler writes the most wonderful dialog in the universe, and his descriptions of faces is unparalleled. I’m letting his approach influence how I approach these problems, hopefully without coming across as imitative. Look for a Chandler-related post on my blog soon.

    Reply

    • Thanks for commenting! I look forward to your post on Chandler. To be clear, I am not trying to imitate anyone, this was more of a knowledge based exercise which started because some of our critique buddies were on me about not adding enough description and then one of our critique buddies and I had a long talk about writing for an audience.

      I just wanted to specifically look for that.

      Reply

  2. Being the novice that I am, the only contribution I can make to the conversation is letting you know the flowering vine is a passion flower!

    Reply

  3. The whole write for an audience thing is interesting. I have only ever written for myself, and therefore readers like myself. I agree with you on description but I’m not sure whether I avoid it because I don’t like it, or because I’m not very good at it. Re romance, I like to explore the flaws in monogamous relationships whilst championing the concept of it. Love and lust and greed belong in romance novels and romantic subplots, imo.

    Reply

    • Thank you for commenting. I always felt romance is only one aspect of life which is probably why I don’t tend to read romance or erotica. While I agree that love, lust, and greed belong in some romantic subplots, especially if they are major subplots. However, I think it also has to make sense and not be filler. So greed, jealousy, love triangles, etc are out for The Light Side of the Moon. The romantic subplot is very minor — it’s just what I am most nervous about!
      Learning to love and figuring out what is important in a compatible spouse are the ideas explored in the novel.

      Reply

  4. Sometimes I think it all depends on your reading preferences. I liked your style in Other Systems as it was different to what I’m used to as a reader, but on the same hand, I cared about Abby, which inevitably keeps you reading.

    As a writer, I feel my disadvantages lie with dialogue. I can’t find the right balance to describe the setting in which the characters find themselves – therefore I love description. If I don’t care about the characters and the dialogue is very factual rather than emotive, then I’m afraid the book will fail for me. I’ve had to adapt my own writing in terms of dialogue. I don’t believe that dialogue should just be thrown in for filler material – it must serve a purpose, and that is ‘my’ style.

    Reply

  5. That is a great idea. I try and read as a writer to see what I can learn from their narrative. That’s probably why successful writers like King say you should read, read, read.

    Reply

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