Mark Terry

Thursday, April 16, 2009


April 16, 2009
I'm very widely read in the genre of mysteries and thrillers, ie., crime novels.

I'm somewhat familiar with children's fantasy and adult SF.

Sometimes I try to write children's fantasy and I guess I'm doing okay with it although I'm not yet published in it.

I'm currently working on an SF novel and today I'm wondering what I think I'm doing writing in a genre I don't read much in.

It's possible this is Shiny New Idea syndrome, that the going was getting hard so my mind is casting about for reasons to go work on something else.

It's possible the difficulty I'm having with the SF novel is that I just am not all that well-versed in the genre, at least as it's being published today. (Thirty years ago, yeah, I was better read in it).

There is a school of thought that suggests you should stick with a genre and build your readership and reputation in that area. Today, at least, I agree with it. Yesterday, mmmm, not so much. Tomorrow, who knows?

What do you think?

Mark Terry


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

My knee-jerk reaction is that it would be impossible to write a publishable book without knowing the genre -- particularly not knowing what's been done and what's going on currently. On the other hand, maybe freed of those concerns you'd produce something a lot better.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

That's my concern, but I also wonder if it frees me from the conventions because I don't know what they are.

Or not.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Hi Mark:
As you know, I write romantic comedies, YA chick lit/romance, middle-grade fantasy, and some romantic suspense tossed in, as well as dabbling in paranormal. I've written a caper (one of my faves) and a dark noir (my all-time fave).

In general, writing with pen names across genres has allowed me to earn a LIVING versus only doing one book every year or two. But I know my limits. I would no sooner try sci-fi as give Demon Baby a pot of coffee. So like Eric said, I think some of it is how comfortable you are with what you are trying. I am writing a thriller right now . . . with supernatural elements or dashes of horror, but I think I am nailing the demands of readers in that genre.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Kristine Kathryn Rusch said...

Mark...finish it. You're an experienced writer. You'll do something that's interesting and exciting, no matter what you write. Worry about marketing it when you're done.

SF is slowly losing that "it's been done before so don't try it attitude," thank heavens. Imagine if mystery had that. Well, Lawrence Block writes about hired killers, so we can't...

Enjoy the process!


P.S. What Erica said.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

I think you should write what you love, and the passion will show.

But if you love sci-fi, it seems that you would read sci-fi...

8:38 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

As an aside, I'm really not into sci-fi at all, but I've been watching Battlestar Galactica DVDs recently, on Marcus Sakey's recommendation, and I have to say that when you get down to it storytelling is storytelling. Every genre has its conventions, its cliches, its reader expectations, and I think those things are important; but, Story, STORY, and competent, compelling writing, trumps all, IMO. Give me an intriguing scenario, a reason to care, and some prose clean and crisp, and I'm all yours for several hundred pages.

8:56 PM  
Blogger LurkerMonkey said...

Hmm. Well, I guess I'm the contrarian today, but I'm a big believer in reading lots and lots in your chosen genre, especially reading what's currently successful. I think there's a bunch of good reasons for it ... first and foremost, it's a learning experience. You get to see how other authors handled essentially the same issues you're dealing with. I don't believe in chasing trends, and I think like Jude said, you should follow your passion in terms of genre ... but once you've sorted out the genre, it's at least helpful for me to read everything I can in that genre.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Adam Coronado said...

I've written a bit of (well-received) poetry and have hardly read any. I've recently decided to remedy this by reading Leaves of Grass.

But I get what you're saying.

8:26 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

Write what you love.

Do investigate some SF, though. I had to laugh and laugh at people who thought THE ROAD had such an original setting. People eating people after the apocalypse has been done to death in SF.

Also, it depends on whether we're talking really hard SF or "soft" SF, meaning, how much does the science play in? Is it just a futuristic (in which the setting is your playground but it's traditional to make some statements about the past and present) or is it something set today but with high scientific stakes? Try to find like books and check it out.

But mostly have fun!! :)

10:23 AM  
Blogger Richmond Writer said...

When you expand your horizons you will enhance the talent you use in whatever genre you focus on.

5:09 PM  

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