Another week heralds another new questioner keen to know what on earth possessed me to tell everyone I’d write 12 books in 12 months. The Rogue Verbumancer is a scientist who occasionally masquerades as a writer on the internet, blogging here and tweeting as @Glempy. Here’s what he had to ask me.
There is one thing that has rather astounded me about your little quest. It’s not so much the writing twelve books thing. That’s a bit mad. It’s an established fact. But it’s only really a surface to the madness. Admittedly knocking out some 600,000 words will be no mean feat, but there is something which I’m finding even more epically daunting. It’s the whole genre thing. I’ve always gotten the impression that writing for a particular genre requires a certain type of thinking and way of doing things. I personally could never even approach the romance genre. Not even with a particularly heavy dose of Dutch courage and a particularly long, pointy stick (Give me knights lopping each other’s limbs of with aforementioned pointy sticks any day). But here you are lunging head long into twelve completely different genres. Is this just a case of some form of prenatural talent granted to you by the strange and unknowable deities of writing? Or something learnt after years of study at the feet of bearded Tibetan writing monks?
Basically, have you discovered some sort of knack that you’re not telling anyone about or are you just stumbling about it the dark with stick?
There were a couple of reasons for changing genre every month. One was to keep me from getting bored. Another was to expand my horizons and challenge myself. And naturally there was an element of cynicism – 12 books in 12 different genres, surely one of them has to be marketable?!
I have been trying to research genres each month, but it turns out I don’t have a lot of time for that what with all the constant writing. So I think really I’ve just skiffed the surface of most of them. My hope is to do some proper hardcore reading before I go back to edit the first drafts, so that if I’ve used any horrible cliches I can quickly edit them out before anyone else sees.
So essentially, what I am doing is writing books withing some very broad brushstrokes pertaining to each genre, and my own writing style permeates all of them. Have I met the needs of each style? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I’m not too worried about it. I read a post on Nicola Morgan’s fantastic blog when I was panicking about Book One (most specifically how accurate it needed to be, as it was historical and at least loosely based on real life) that really inspired me. This is it here.
What I really took to heart was that with a first draft, all you need to do is sketch everything out. You can afford to be a bit hazy at this point, on account of knowing you’re going to go back and fill the details in later, having conducted further research. This makes a lot of sense to me. After all, my arbitrary word count for each book is 50k, which is 22k short of the average first novel… I’ve got words to play with, there! And none of these books are going anywhere as is – they’re first drafts.
I guess that a lot of writers develop specific ways of working, particularly when they’ve been pigeonholed by their publishers into doing one genre. But at the moment I haven’t fallen into any particular habits, because I don’t have to. Maybe if someone gives me an advance for a Paranormal Romance, I’ll worry a little bit more. But until that happens I’ll keep experimenting and having fun within the rough boundaries that each genre seems to inhabit.