Monday, February 9, 2009

Writing the Same When You are Different

QUESTION: Why don't authors keep writing the same kind of book? Some of my favorite romance authors have switched to different genres, and I HATE it.

There isn't a simple answer. Here are a few.

* Failing markets. The writer's genre starts losing readers so publishers want fewer books, and fewer books are sold. This happened with historical romances several years back so established authors branched out into contemporaries, paranormals, and suspense novels to continue making a profit at their writing.

* Respect. Romance authors, in particular, get no respect from their non-romance peers, and this gets really old. Non-romances also have more professional cache.

* Authorial control. Romance editors exert more control over the final product than in any other genre so the final product is often more of a collaborative effort. At a certain point in a writer's career, this can get really old.

* Boredom. An author spends months writing a book that takes you an evening to read, and she then starts another book. If every book is exactly like the last as some readers want, this process can become boring. The creative juices dry up. If the author doesn't change gears, the readers will be the next to be bored.

* Innovations. Books, as a whole, don't stay the same. Romances have changed dramatically over the last twenty years, and woe unto the writer who doesn't change with it.

* Bandwagon Syndrome. Some authors see a trend become popular, and they absolutely must write to this trend.

* Changes in an author's life. Writing is an emotional process, and sometimes, things happening in an author's life make them change the direction of their writing. I have had friends going through an ugly divorce who could no longer write about everlasting love when their true love proved to be a cruel, manipulative jerk. One writer lost her young son to a sudden illness. When she started writing again, she turned to novels that expressed her faith in God.

As much as writers want to please their readers, sometimes, they simply must change direction with their writing.



My workshop, "Magic, Monsters and Amour: Creating a Believable Paranormal World," will be offered from July 6 - 31, 2009 at Writers Universe.

In July, I will also be teaching “Keeping the Reader Reading the First Chapter."

I haven't found a sponsor for my "The Big Question: How to Create a Powerful Novel from a Few Ideas and One Big Question." If you know of a group interested in this course, please contact me.

To learn more about these course, go to and click on the workshop links.


AGENT Eleanor Wood who represents sf, fantasy, suspense, and commerical fiction is interviewed at the Novelists Inc. blog

THE BIG EDIT Helen Ginger of the Blood Red Pencil blog talks about "The Big Edit" of a novel and how to look at the big picture like point of view and cleaning up the beginning of a novel. The first part starts here:


Natalie Hatch said...

Marilyn, thanks so much for the link to the Big Red Edit.. gosh I need this right now.

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks, Marilyn, for linking to me. Both of your workshops sound interesting. I hope you find a sponsor for the third. And I agree with you on why writers change. It's good for us to understand the reasons. Sometimes we can really like a series, then suddenly the author veers off into a standalone or a new series and we get frustrated. It's good to recognize that the writer may be just as frustrated. If you really like the author, give the new books a look.

Helen Ginger