Just Another Day at the Protest Emporium

Guy of Guy Morley’s Protest Emporium was checking his TwitOrders when he stumbled on a doozy.

It was in the belly of the day, when he was usually too tired to listen to any more protesting opinions. But, as Jimmy the Millennial had taken the day off to join a medical marijuana rally, Guy had no choice but to respond to the orders.

One question went precisely like this:

i totes just found out bout ur store dere! dju have protest sign Legalize Gay Abortion? 4 reels? cuz i need me one of them before dey take r rights on dat,. u know wut im taking bout cuz u a biznass owner (@rondaonahonda)

“Legalizing gay abortion?” Guy dropped into his chair to try and riddle that one out. “Is that even a thing? What the flip does that even mean?”

Eventually, even without Jimmy’s guidance, he came to realize that this Ronda must be the same Twitter fiend who had been trolling him recently, and this question was just another example of a patrolling troll trolling another business.

At least, he thought it must be, because gay abortion couldn’t be a thing, could it?

Shaking his head and standing, Guy Morley deleted the TwitOrder question and walked to the fabricating mill in the back. He had an order of pink hats to fill for the upcoming woman’s march, and had no intention of being late. If rondaonahonda was legit, she would Tweet him back . . .

It’s great that we can have protests, exercising our rights, expressing our opinions. But it seems that many people just like to make a big noise. After all, our young people boast that they ‘know how to be loud and get attention’ (like babies?) and act as if this is making loud noises or being the loudest in the room is somehow progressive. We have to wonder, exactly what are our protests teaching the next generation? I don’t know. Just food for thought. At least they’re trying.

Writing What Readers are Passionate About

At some point in your writing journey, you are going to ask yourself this question: ‘Should my next book be what I want to write, or should it be something readers want, something touching on current events and thought?’

That is a very important writerly question!

Having spent years writing what I am passionate about, what interests me, and receiving only middling interest and occasional bursts of sales, I began to realize that the old adage ‘write what you love’ may be archaic.

Perhaps a better one would be, ‘write what people are passionate to read, and try to become passionate about it yourself.’

Of course, there are those lucky few newbies who write what they want and this just happens to be what readers want too. (Those lucky buggers!)

The Write Practice has an eye-opening post about this very thing, here. You might do yourself a favor by checking it out.

Eventually your passion will collide with reader passion, and then you’ll have a winner on your hands. Right now, despite having spent weeks creating extensive outlines on two novels I would love to write, a different idea has struck me, one that is very much up with current events and in a genre that is currently on fire. The best part is that I am feeling the passion monster chomping away at me to write this one.

Another example that helped me realize this point, is the fact that one of my most-viewed posts (consistently earning every month) happens to be one about a very serious current events issue–gun control. No coincidence that.

It’ll happen for you too. Just keep tapping away at those keyboards!

REMEMBER!

Spending years writing what you are passionate about is still a good practice, as it will increase your writing skills, and make you ready to craft a great piece of writing that people want to read. So even if your early manuscripts end up stuffed inside dusty drawers, they have served a great purpose. They were necessary stepping stones.

Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer: What Makes it Unique Among Fantasies

Merriam Webster describes a ‘fantasist” as ‘one who creates fantasies.’

But as any fantasy reader knows, there are many types of fantasies and fantasists.

While reading Oathbringer, I finally figured out what makes Brandon Sanderson stand out among today’s fantasists. There are 3 distinctions in his writing that set him apart from his peers:

  1. He is pretty much the only fantasist today who isn’t dropping the f-bomb and s-missile on every page. Other writers seem to think that having your characters say—and think—the ‘F’ word makes them realistic. Really, it’s just distracting. And, just as with real men who constantly cuss, it becomes addictive, and is soon their go-to word. Ultimately it limits their vocabulary and makes them, in some respects, one-dimensional. (See my ranting post on the overuse of profanity in manuscripts here)
  2. His women are strong. Of course, plenty of other fantasists write strong women. Unlike the others, however, who infuse their females with strength by making them snarky and kick-buttery) Brandon’s women are strong because they are complete personalities, full of complexities and passions. They are neither dependent on men to complete them, nor do they need to hate or destroy men to feel complete.
  3. Brandon subverts the modern urge to create anti-heroes and characters we love to hate. I’m not sure–in all the Sanderson fantasies I’ve read– that I have encountered any despicable character. In fact, in Oathbringer, book 3 of the Stormlight Archive, even the apparent baddies are shown in a certain favorable slant of light, rather than as fully dark or anti-heroic. After spending a little time with the Voidbringers, Kaladin says he feels a certain kinship with them.

How to Be a Top Fantasist

So even though Brandon Sanderson doesn’t write subversive or revolutionary fantasy, I consider his quiet literary rebellions a high mark among today’s fantasists. Respectable is a good word for him. His work is refreshing and . . . clean. Another clever fast-one he pulls on the Powers That Be is the Cosmere, his version of Stephen King’s Dark Tower, where many or most of his books take place in a connected universe.

I can’t remember where I read it (maybe I heard it from the horse’s mouth), but Sanderson said that, when he was publishing his first novel, Elantris, he explained to his agent that this book was set in a vast interconnected literary universe. But his agent told him that publishers are weary of debut novels being part of a series. So, cleverly, Sanderson left hints in Elantris that would connect it to his later works while letting it be published as a standalone novel.

The lesson here is that, like best-selling fantasist Brandon Sanderson, you should be more interested in establishing your own literary integrity by writing your way in your style. Writing fads come and go, but great books are never forgotten. They continue to be picked out, bought, read, or listened to by fans who appreciate their individuality and unique creation.

The Rebellious Writer

In sum, rebel against common tropes and embrace the revolutionary writer in you. Brandon Sanderson ignores the current trend of peopling his worlds with despicable characters and of dropping f-bombs by the payload.

Michael J. Sullivan forgoes anti-heroes and clichéd women heroines by crafting likeable, genuinely decent dudes and likeable, genuinely decent dudettes. Travel to his world here

Instead of writing grimdark fantasy, the popular fantasy subgenre today, Eoin Colfer embraces his inner comedian to create funny fantasy, which should be especially welcome in today’s grimdark reality.

And lest we forget, there’s Jasper Fforde’s brilliant Thursday Next series, which is . . . like nothing else.

Ask not which author you wish to imitate. Ask what you wish to write. Don’t be afraid to create against current trends. Your greatest works are lurking inside you right now. Write them down!