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.

Vowel Movements

Consider this:

The following is a satirical poke at the Powers That Be Running Things.

Our children are being raised in an age that tells them:

    • All men are evil pigs. Apparently there are lists proving as much—written by angry women, of course. Soon, men won’t even be allowed to look at a woman without being accused of sexual harassment. The future is female!
    • Gender is an option. This is the new catchall tagline for transgenders (I mean gender non-conforming, genderqueer, trans-man, trans-woman or gender-fluid people). I suppose that, technically, gender is an option, if you’re cool with assaulting the natural order of things by subjecting your body to unnatural levels of certain hormones. Oops, I used ‘unnatural’ in the same paragraph as ‘transgender’; I must be an evil pig man! Somebody call the Cut, put me on the Crappy Media Men list.
    • If you happen to have black skin, you must be oppressed. When Obama was elected president, I thought ‘Well good, maybe having a black president will eradicate any residual racism in America.’ But instead, he reminded black people that they were black, as if this were ‘something to overcome’ rather than a non-issue, and cleverly managed to instigate uprisings and condone media coverage of manufactured bigotry. Suddenly white people were racist descendants of slave-owners, trying to keep the black man down. Media specials included footage (which quickly turned viral) of white police officers shooting black individuals. Naturally we were never shown the beginning of these videos. You couldn’t help but wonder why—except that eventually the truth did come out (and was swiftly silenced), that the apparent victims had in fact broken the law and then either: ran from the police, resisted arrest, or pulled a gun on the police officers). It also never came out that white police officers shot far more white perps than black. Maybe there are more stupid white perps than black . . . but if so, the news people must’ve seen this as less sensational. Either way, the best method for old school racism turned out to be the old classic standby: smashing storefront windows.
    • Gay Power! Being gay is better than being straight because being gay means you get preferential treatment, and if you don’t, then everyone else is just being homophobic. Those narrow-minded poopies running the courts clearly have an agenda. And if a store owner refuses to make me a gay-inspired cake, then I’ll sue the bejeebers out of him. How dare he stick to his religious beliefs and rights! What about my rights to demand and to get anything I want just because of my sexual preference? Love yourself!
  • Gun control. Down with the S.A.F.E. Act! If I want a thousand rounds for my semi-automatic, then innocent Americans have nothing to say about it, gull-dern-it. I wanna hunt me sum deer. I need my AK-47 and all the ammo I can carry, the Constitution says I can, don’t tread on me, I have the right to ‘bear’ arms, as many as I want—theytookourguns! (But not really.)

 

  • If we’re being completely honest, the only group it is still politically correct to marginalize today is the Straight White Christian Male. If you are a SWCM, you must be a homophobic racist small-minded evil pig man. Better start seeking ‘alternative lifestyles’ and try to be more progressive.

Visualizing the future of such a generation gorgifies me. Who will your son/daughter be when he/she/other grows up?

Well, men are evil, so your son will have to start by becoming your daughter.

Step 1: He’ll have to take massive doses of estrogen, and undergo SRS. Hopefully your . . . offspring will resist the urge to commit suicide (there is a 40% chance this will happen for any gender-fluid person. But the media would have you believe otherwise).

Next, your daughter will have to hate men (now the opposite sex), because men are evil. So she will have to prefer women, which may or may not make her gay, I’m not really sure at this point. Next on the list is getting some skin treatments to make sure she is: neither white (to keep her from becoming racist) nor exactly black (to keep her from being oppressed).

Now that she is Michael Jackson, she will have to arm up. We’re talking gun shows, trunk-bunkers, gun cabinet parties, the whole nine millimeters baby!

Finally, she needs to reject all organized religion as the work of corrupt idiot pig men and instead embrace ‘spiritualism’ which is really just atheism masquerading as self-worship—or maybe it’s the other way around. In either case, I’m right, because according to Oprah there are no wrong belief systems.

Now imagine an entire generation of these confused, angry, traditional-values-shaming people running the world. I guess it wouldn’t even be that bad, so long as the government pays to arm teachers, and our heroes keep overdosing on ‘prescription meds’ or turning out to be sexual predators (here’s looking at you, Mr. Cosby), instigating a massive movement that allows an entire gender to jump on the bandwagon of opposite-gender-hating #MeTooism.

Side Note: I’m starting to think trans-women make up the smartest group out there.

I guess what I’m saying is, I feel for the marginalized SWCM’s of America. Maybe you’ll say they had their time in the sun. But could someone please pay attention to this minority group, make special arrangements for them and give them preferential treatment just because they feel marginalized? No? Okay, I guess they’ll just have to take to the streets and march to the beat of their own drums.

Let’s print up some pickets and Google some inspirational slogans. Everything’s copasetic!

That was fun. Have a nice day and, as always, God bless. (P.S. try not to take things so seriously; life’s short, so have a little pun.

The Best Books Take You Away From Hard Times

As Dickens would say, ‘It was the worst of times.’

When real life gets tough, when it seems every phone call is more bad news, you need something to take your mind off of crap, something vivid and entertaining, engrossing and imaginative. You know what I’m talking about.

Now, there are options: You could take a trip, but your problems might just follow you; you could play board games or tennis, but forty minutes of the former will make you bored and forty minutes of the latter will give you tennis elbow.

You could even watch movies, which is great for a break from reality. But after two hours, it’s over, and the actors and set pieces never really engaged your imagination. They were like a Monet painting, nice to look at, but devoid of personal engagement.

Books, my dear Watson, are the perfect remedy. Well-written novels force you to imagine what you are reading. You brain transforms text into images and living scenes for you alone. An author writes about events on a windy desolate beach, and you are instantly transported to the Outer Banks, your problems and sufferings a thousand miles behind you. (The best part is that the trip cost you no more than the price of the book.)

Some books you enjoy but then never really give them a second thought.

Others are rare gems. You know the ones—those wonderful books that transport you to another world, or to a different, better one than this one(because it’s about other people’s problems), and which you so loved that it earns an eternal place of honor in your readers’ memory. Such winners might even merit a second or third reading. I want to provide my personal list of these types of favorites. Perhaps you’ve read some of them yourself and enjoyed their gift of: lifting you out of your no good very bad terrible day. Maybe there are a few titles you have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing. If that’s the case, go ahead and pick them up. They might just take you to new worlds and times, and lift your flagging spirits.

I believe in the power of books to engage our minds and to bring us joy and peace in the hard times—as well as in the good times. I trust these titles can do this for you:

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Abhorsen Trilogy
  • Harry Potter series (naturally)
  • Song of Ice and Fire (AKA Game of Thrones)
  • Gaunt’s Ghosts (Dan Abnett’s brilliant Military Sci-Fi series)
  • The Dragonbone Chair
  • Christ Clone Trilogy (makes the Left Behind series look amateurish)
  • Dresden Files (just good plain fun)
  • Codex Alera (because only Butcher can combine the Lost Roman Legion with Pokeman on a dare and create intelligent entertainment)
  • Almost anything by Brandon Sanderson
  • Fablehaven
  • Leviathan Series (Scott Westerfeld)

Not surprisingly, only one title represents a stand-alone book in this list. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell might just be my all time favorite fantasy. Yes, it starts out slowly—like The Dragonbone Chair—but this is intentional and intelligently handled. Reading it is like watching an old-school fuse light and chase, growing ever closer to the explosive finale; tension and excitement build with every page.

You get lost in 1820’s England and in the disturbing fantastical realm of Fairie. And that’s the point, isn’t it? To lose yourself in the fabricated worlds of great writers.

Which beggars a question crucial to all writers: What makes these books and their ilk so dang engrossing?

Well, a number of factors lead to their superior quality and desirability, making them books you continue to think about long after you close the cover.

For me, the most obvious reason for their engrossing nature is to be found in the fact that they were clearly crafted with care after long developmental stages by their creators. George R.R. Martin spent months creating just the back-story for each of his 7 Houses of Westeros.

 

Then there’s the personalized touch. James BeauSigneur, who wrote the Christ Clone books, is a former intelligence analyst for the NSA. Clearly he employed his experiences and unique perspective to write intelligent apocalyptic thrillers.

Another factor is that these authors all understand the importance (and are not afraid of the risk) of taking their time to develop their worlds and characters. Every book and series in my list becomes more absorbing the deeper you dive into their fictional worlds.

So dive into some deep adventures in reading and don’t be afraid to learn from them and to use whatever unique perspective and strength you have to craft your own engrossing tales. Reading and writing are, after all, both excellent methods of turning your no good very bad days into your best life now.