How Does One Decide What to Write About?

Part of the allure of being an independent author is the idea that you can write whatever you want, whenever you want. Sounds great, right. But, if I wanted to sit down and write the next 50 Shades of Grey, I’m not sure the result would be very good or, based on my expert knowledge of the subject matter, very long.

At the moment that you declare yourself an author, how are you driven to pick a direction? There are so many genres and sub-genres. There are so many forms of writing. How do you select what direction, or directions, you will take to funnel your creativity.

Here are some of the choices:

  • Mainstream Novels – Contemporary fiction that is geared to a wide variety of readers fall into this category. Love stories, coming of age, dramas and other similar works that seek wide readership and commercial appeal are considered works within this group. The needle moves in this classification of books. Breakout books like the Harry Potter series or the aforementioned 50 shades phenomenon can occur in what would normally be considered a genre.
  • Literary Novels – Books that somehow push the literary envelope or expand the craft fall into this category. They can be avant-garde or experimental in nature.
  • War Novels – This one is pretty self-explanatory. Think some of Tom Clancy’s works or classics like From Here to Eternity.
  • Comic Novels – Books that use humor or satire to poke fun at real life situations fall into this category
  • Philosophical Novels – Think George Orwell or Ayn Rand
  • Message Novels – Books that seek to teach a lesson or make a statement about the social or political climate fall into this category. Think of books like The Grapes of Wrath that dealt with the Dust Bowl era in the United States or todays LGBTQ novels.
  • Religious Novels – Fiction that emerges from religious scriptures or ideas make up this category.
  • Erotic and Pornographic Novels – Thanks to books like 50 Shades of Grey, these books have become more mainstream. If the preponderance of authors in this genre at indie book gatherings are any indication, this trend is going strong.
  • Action/Adventure/Thriller – These books are filled with action and often take place in exotic locations.
  • Romances – The genre of authors like Nicholas Sparks fall into this category. These novels have more plot and less intimacy than the erotic genre.
  • Historical Novels and Family Sagas – These books usually have some root in a historical event or period and tell a plausible story that surrounds that history.
  • Westerns – These books usually take place in the West or Southwestern United States in the post-Civil War period.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy – These stories are based on a setting and technology that opens up other possibilities allowing the author to use elements of story telling that are heavily or loosely based in science or in fantasy lore.
  • Horror/Occult Novels – These books are usually written with the intent to scare or shock the reader and differ from science fiction and fantasy in the areas of body count and gore.
  • Crime Novels – Books that are mysteries, detective stories or spy/terrorism stories are woven around some criminal event, usually a murder, and the journey through discovering wither who carried out the crime or how the person that carried it out will be caught.
  • Animal Stories – Books where one or more of the main characters are animals make up this genre.
  • Medical and Nurse Novels – Books that take place in a medical setting like Coma or The Clinic fall into this category.
  • New Age Novels – Books that focus on mystical or metaphysical topics are classified in this genre.
  • Juvenile/Young Adult Novels – This is another genre that is leaning toward mainstream thanks to the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series.

So, how did you fall into writing the genre(s) that you’ve selected? Do you have difficulty with any elements of writing in this genre? What did you need to learn or strengthen in your knowledge base to successfully write in your chosen genre?

Let’s have a discussion about it.

Science Fiction, Horror & More—Why Speculative Fiction Matters – From Kristen Lamb’s Blog

On Friday, we explored how shame is the beating heart of great fiction, how probing the shadow sides of human nature is what can separate the mundane from the magnificent.

All fiction has its place. Some fiction is purely fun and escape and the world needs more fun and feel good. Certain books are simply a holodeck to get away from the mundanities of life, the overwhelming pressures of being an adult (kids, laundry, bills, car repairs). They serve as a place of rest and we all could use more of that!

But that isn’t all fiction.

Read the rest of this post HERE.


I don’t believe in miracles or luck. I believe in hard graft, grit, a ton of sweat and the 70,000 words of baking time needed to make a book.

So until I either win the lottery or publish and sell enough books I can replace my salary, I’m pretty sure I will live in a constant state of unhinged mania and excessive perspiration.

It also means I constantly seek out new ways to make myself as productive as possible. ‘Efficiency’ is my middle name… mostly, when I’m not, you know, procrastinating in the time swallowing beast that is social media.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Self-Publishing a Debut Literary Novel: The Actions, The Costs, The Results – From Jane Friedman’s Blog

biographies of ordinary people by nicole diekerGuest post by freelancer and novelist Nicole Dieker (@hellothefuture).

On May 23, 2017, I self-published my debut novel: The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989–2000. It’s a Millennial-era Little Women that follows three sisters from 1989 to the present; the second volume, which covers 2004–2016, will release in May 2018.

There’s a lot about my book that is, shall we say, extraordinary. (Someone had to.) I funded the drafts of both volumes through Patreon; 61 supporters contributed $6,909 over eighteen months in exchange for two draft chapters per week. I queried the first volume in the traditional publishing market, and after hearing multiple agents say that the writing was very strong but that the book was “too quiet” to be marketable, I started asking myself whether I could market the book on my own.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Shifting Priorities of Your Writing Career – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Orly Konig-Lopez

College then work. It’s a right-of-passage most of us go through in one form or another. Some multiple times. And I realized recently that I was on wave two.

College Years = Aspiring Author

This is when everything is shiny and possible and fun. You take classes, hang out in coffee shops, meet new people. You put in long hours studying, sometimes longer hours partying. Each new class brings on a new level of excitement and the possibilities are endless.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Plotting for Pantsters

There are a lot of heated opinions about whether plotting or pantsing is the best way to write a story. As an avid plotter myself, I was curious to hear about Dario Ciriello’s process, which contains a little of both. If you find yourself stuck on either end of the spectrum, today’s post might be just what you need to hear.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

5 On: Dario Ciriello from Jane Friedman’s blog

In this 5 On interview, author Dario Ciriello talks about breaking writing rules, what publishing other writers taught him about the business, and how little he as a writer cares about what other writers think.

Dario Ciriello is a professional author and editor as well as the founder of Panverse Publishing. His fiction includes Sutherland’s Rules, a crime caper/thriller with a shimmer of the fantastic; Black Easter, a supernatural suspense novel which pits love against black magic and demonic possession on a remote, idyllic Greek island; and Free Verse and Other Stories, a collection of Dario’s short science fiction work.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

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