Ah! There is the "problem." My reading preferences are as diverse as I am! I tend to write diversely.
I can consume a suspense novel in a day. I like a good Stephen King or Dean Koontz terror suspense which takes longer than a day. (SK's The Stand, unabridged, took a year. I read a while, set it aside for long periods before reading a little more and setting it aside again. I think I struggled through reading it because he struggled through writing it. He talks about it in his book On Writing.) I enjoy literary fiction: The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marchez, Possessions A.S. Byatt, and African-American literature like Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. (I am English/Irish/Welsh/German descent. That doesn't really matter because it's not about my ethnic roots. It's about writing a good story!)
While diversity gives me the best of all worlds, mastering one genre likely will get one published sooner. (I don't know that for sure since I haven't published book length yet.)
I'm leaning toward suspense romance with an SK-like twist. He begins a common, everyday life story and at the most unexpected moment slips in the twist that takes us on that horrifying, that other-worldly, ride we have come to expect from him.
He said (SK, I mean) he reads all the time. All kinds of things. I recently read Arthur Clarke's space odysseys: 2001, 2010, 2061 and 3001. I couldn't help noticing Clarke's influence on other writers whose work I read...like SK and JD Robb's In Death series. (A highly instructive surprise.)
If I should complete my current novel in progress, revise it, submit it and sell it, I expect to read a critic somewhere who says, "It could be taken from the day's news headlines." Indeed, the seed for this story began with a news headline and is taking on a life of its own, to address issues like "woman's place in a man's world," with concepts like Tammany Hall. (What, you ask, is Tammany Hall? When I asked things like "what does that mean" my mother always sent me to look it up "so you'll remember it longer." Hehehehehe!)
Should my novel be contemporary, futuristic or historic? I've started writing it as contemporary. And now a thought occurs to me. Someone wrote to an online writer list, "I find myself writing the same story over and over again."
Ah! I can write the contemporary version. Then the futuristic. Then the historical, or any order I want, each to address the point: "woman's place in a man's world."
And you can disagree with what I write, if you wish, because "good" literature gets you to think. And THAT is the goal for my writing because it will give my works longevity for that very reason: It makes you think.
(c) 2010 Cathy Thomas Brownfield
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