Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Love Stinks - Write for the Market!

By Aaron Michael Ritchey


I am a Libra.  I see both sides of things.  I’m a scale, but not very balanced.  I generally tip back and forth between extremes.

One part of me says, only write what's popular, Aaron.  Make every character vanilla.  Choose safe paragraphs.  Don’t take chances.  If people want a Hollywood happy ending, give them one.  Don’t be difficult.  Sell out.  Sell out as much as possible, for as much as possible.

The other part of me wears black, smokes cigarettes, and reads Sartre.  It’s my art, dammit.  It’s my story.  It’s my characters, and they are bleak, broken, passive, but they are real.  They bleed.  And it might not all end happily, but there is wisdom in suffering.  Stay true to your vision, Aaron, and damn what anyone else thinks.  Forget your critique group.  What do they know?

So I’m conflicted.  A lot.  I probably make a terrible scale.  That’s it, I’m a failed Libra.

I think the ideal is to write the book of your heart in such a way as to make it marketable.  I’m kind of in love with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!  Part of his process suggests that we should think about our audience and the demographic appeal of our characters and our story.  I’ve failed at that.  Even the stuff I’ve written for the market, I really only considered about what I think is cool.  And, um, I’m not the mass market.  I’m a rebel, Dotty.  I’m different.

So I need to consider my audience, and I need to pry my mind open and keep it open.  I take my work to my critique group to improve it, and if I’m not willing to change a thing, I’m wasting everyone’s time.  Of course, some things people say I can disregard.  Not every piece of criticism is golden.  Some are just plain wrong.

I truly believe Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight because it was the book of her heart, not because she was writing for the market.  And she was very successful.  And I think, though I don’t have any evidence, that Nicholas Sparks wrote The Notebook to appeal to the market.  He was very successful.  So in the end, no one really knows what is going to work and what isn’t.  There are no easy answers.

Write what you love.  Pay attention to the market, but don’t be a slave to it.  And when someone wants you to change your story, listen, but in the end, listen more to that innate genius that is inside us all.

Above all, love the book you are writing now.  Because you are putting your life into those words and pages.  Your very life.  The precious minutes of your existence. 

Probably not something to take lightly.


About the Writer:  YA Paranormal author Aaron Michael Ritchey has penned a dozen manuscripts in his 20 years as a writer. When he isn’t slapping around his muse, Aaron cycles to look fabulous, works in medical technologies, and keeps his family in silks and furs. His first novel, The Never Prayer, hit the streets on March 29, 2012.