Monday, April 11, 2011

A few thoughts on books and writing

So a friend and fellow author has a blog where where she does a lot of reflecting on the writing process, publishing, and other related topics. Her latest post made many points and raised many questions that I've often pondered. Here are a few of my responses to what she wrote.

1) So called "literature" is in not superior to so called "escapist fantasy" books. I'm not a big fan of "literary" writing myself; it turned me off of reading in high school, and I didn't start reading again for several years until I was introduced to Foundation by Asimov. There is nothing wrong with popular books. There is nothing wrong with escapist literature. They can be just as well structured and written as the greatest work of "literature".

2) If a story wants to switch genre midstream, I say let it; the whole concept of genre can be very limiting and hurt a story. I think back to the classic 80s cartoons I loved as a kid, and they crossed all kinds of genre lines, and I loved them for it. He-Man was an action/adventure show, but it also has science fiction elements (robots, gadgets, alternate dimensions), fantasy elements (magic, dragons), romantic elements (Teela & He-Man), dramatic elements (Teela discovering her real mother) and more. A writer shouldn't force a story into a certain genre; they should let the story be what it wants to be, and if it's hard to categorize, then it's hard to categorize.

3) There is a false notion that you should show not tell. The wonder of using words and being a good storyteller means you can show when it best conveys the meaning, and you can tell when it best conveys the meaning (the term is story tell-er, not story show-er). A writer should use the best tool available.

4) If you seem to be writing screenplays, then publish your stories as screenplays. That's the magic and wonder of eBooks--you don't have traditional restrictions. Or get really crazy and turn them into podcasts or audiobooks and sell them as such. eBooks are a cool new format, and there's nothing wrong with experimenting with new forms that don't have a chance of making it in paper.

The picture at the right is another cover someone hired me to create for their book. It was done with a brush-tipped marker and colored with chalk in Corel Painter X.

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