Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Decisions, decisions

If you’re like me, you periodically undergo a conscience of crisis. Well, at least one at a time, if they’re well-behaved. The one I’m talking about is the question of writing the story that is in you burning bright and wanting to get out, and writing the story for the market, the one you know will find an agent, audience, and sell. I have two novel WIPs stalled in progress because I can’t even figure out what genre they would fit into and I’m convinced no one will want to read them. On the other hand, I know I could write something in a genre I have no real interest in and have that move.

Elizabeth Spann Craig from Mystery Writing is Murder has a guest post about this very thing over at Alan Orloff’s A Million Blogging Monkeys. Check it out here and tell me: Do you write for the market or yourself?


  1. I think in today's market you have to do a little of both. I wrote MASQUERADE for me, hoping to acquire the market, and REMEMBERING YOU strictly for the market although I like the story and where it's going. It's a tough call to be sure. I think however, that whatever you write it has to be for you and that you like it first and foremost.

  2. I sympathize - I am currently struggling with a similar thing. I have four or five ideas for my next novel, most of which (I think) are unusual enough within the genre to catch an agent's eye just on concept. But the one that is devouring me and shaking me to be written ... is probably the most mainstream and closest to familiar in its broad strokes.

  3. I think that even if you start out writing it for the market, it's still going to end up being yours. Your voice, your style are unique enough to put that SJ stamp on whatever you do.

  4. I will read your stories!!! I'll help you find the perfect fit!!! Well at least suggest something! See you have have someone who will give it a go!!

    I understand though, I always write the story for me, something I want to read but can't seem to find. Then I hope it's perfect for the market, if it's not then I'll hope the next one is!

  5. My theory -- and it's just that... a theory -- is that it's always for the best to stay true and not necessarily write specifically for the market.

    Now, I am not saying that you should avoid writing for a particular market. (Not by any means!) I just mean that if you have a story that is living and breathing inside you, let it out... regardless as to any market considerations.

    I tend to think that if you have something that interests you, there are bound to be others who will be interested by it, too. :)

  6. i just focus on the one that has been planned out more. I'm lazy like that.

  7. Oh, I have to consider this every day, really. But what is heartening is that I ALWAYS go with what I really want to write for me. Cinders, my book coming out in August, was written entirely for me. I wrote it to self-publish it. I wrote it just to please me and no one else, and it has been one of the best things I've written. It looks like others are interested in it, so kudos for that!

    Doing this - writing something entirely for me without having to worry about shopping it around - was a real eye-opening experience for me.

  8. I totally understand where you're coming from! I'm stalled on my ms, too. You feel like you should just sit down and write, but it's so hard!

  9. This is a tough one. I usually don't much care for books that seem formulaic and clearly written for the market. The books lack heart, lack that lingering oomph that changes readers.

    I think one needs to do a little of both. I think (perhaps naively?) that a "from the heart" story can be revised into a marketable manuscript. Many great books come about that way.

  10. I think it would be difficult to write a book solely based on the market but in which you have little interest. Writing a novel is difficult enough as it is. I think you have to go in with energy and interest because that's going to wane no matter what as the thing moves along.

    Can we paraphrase "Field of Dreams"? If you write it, they will read it...

  11. This is just my opinion, but:

    Write the book that is burning to be written, the way YOU want to write it, the story you must tell.

    Forget the market or even genre.

    I say this because I TRULY BELIEVE that it's all about the story and writing. If the story is compelling, and beautifully written, there is ALWAYS a market for such a book. And it is my belief that these are the books that go on to have legs, win awards and break new ground.

    Think Cold Mountain (Frazier), Thomas Pynchon's books, etc...there are plenty of books that are unique and unusual and haunting and that make it.

    I always say to write what is in your heart to write, the readers will come.
    I'd rather publish a book I was proud of then a book that made a lot of money but was crap.

    But, that's just my opinion.


  12. Me, I write for me. If my book got noticed, it would be great, but I just write for me.

    Happy scribbling.

  13. I think you have to write for yourself and then work out how to market it afterwards

  14. I made a big change to a WIP after 2 agents said it would be more marketable that way. The ironic thing was that for the story, that was also the right decision, so I was doing myself a favor. But sometimes that's not always how it works out.

    I think if you'd not enjoy writing something that's really commercial that you know will sell, then you should just keep writing what you want to write :) The passion will show through.

  15. Just for has to be real, from the heart/guts/soul... I could understand someone writing something just for the market to get their name out there...but at the core, I'm a 'to thine own self be true' kind of girl....

  16. Both. That first novel is still my hearts desire; but it may never be anything but a learning mechanism. I want to write; but I want to be published too. So, writing for the market while keeping my fingers stroking my heartstrings isn't too much a juggling act. I don't feel I'm giving anything up.

    Who knows when the markets will change and I'll have the next national best seller sitting around waiting its time.

    Just write Sarahj; if its pleasureable and fulfilling, then its the book that needs to be written by you. Passion will come from doing what you love - writing - so people will buy your creative genius.


  17. I don't write for the market at all. And I'm kind of paying the price. The first two books I wrote had absolutely no true place on the book shelves, as far as I researched. My third book has a clear genre, Middle Grade, but I'm having trouble finding books like it to compare it to.

    The most important thing, though, is that we enjoy what we write. I'd rather write what I love and have trouble stuffing it into the market than write specifically for the market, not enjoy it as much, and then be disappointed if that book doesn't sell (since the whole point would be to get it published, anyway). It sounds cliche, but I'd write what's in your heart.

  18. I saw the post you mention and I think you can do both. Write the story that interests you and adapt it for a market. Just say your passion is vampires but you've been asked to write a romance novel about high-schoolers. Too easy, you'd just make one of them a vampire (oh wait, that's been done a few times).

    I have read material that is totally self-absorbed and I get no enjoyment from it (although it would also find it's own market, I'm sure), but, at the same time, I like to feel the writer has put themselves into their writing.

    Wagging Tales

  19. I write for me first, but I also consider the market. Fortunately for YA, that's pretty expansive.

    I would never write for a market I'm not interested in. But then again, I didn't think I'd be interested in YA and now can't read anything BUT YA. :)

  20. I see your great comments on so many of the blogs I follow I figured it was finally time to come over here and become your newest follower.

    Nice ta meet ya!

  21. I agree with Lola, tailoring your voice to prescription is a sure fire way to smother it. Your unique, individual story, and how YOU choose to tell it, comes first, and the market (hopefully) will follow through later.

  22. I write what I love reading. I struggle to tame my unique voice with standard punctuation.