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Week 282 – Genre Before Character Or Plot, An Asterix For Adam And Irony From Not Being There

Maybe it’s just me and my limitations but I was wondering how many writers choose a genre before they start to write?

Do you sit down at your computer with a cheese sandwich and a pint of gin and say to yourself, ‘I think I’ll write me some Science-Fiction.’ And off you pop to other worlds and multiple tentacles very cleverly using our social problems as catalysts for metaphor and parallel.

All my inspiration comes mainly from a single line and I go where that takes me. I would love to be able to plan something out and intertwine certain points that I want to make into my stories but that very seldom happens.

I also wonder about our more descriptive writers. Do they do the same with an image as I do with a line? Do they want to *tackle a feeling in visual form? Is it a case of a gnarled tree with a red hue before the plot takes shape?

There’s no point questioning the romantics as their answer to everything is ‘Aren’t clouds fluffy. But not as cuddly-wuddly as true love and babies.’

I wonder if you can actually teach writing? Obviously, the mechanics can be taught but I’m not sure about content. Everyone of us is different and I’m sure that there may be similarities with the way certain writers approach their work but overall, they go their own way.

You see many creative writing courses and by the very title, you would think that this is all description heavy. So that may suit some but not others. If you’re going for a more rustic and realistic approach, would this benefit?

Most people can learn to write and as Diane says at times, ‘There are words and they are in order’ but not so many can put across an interesting story.

We then come to the huge question of validation.

Do you need to be published in some form for you to believe that your work is any good?

If you’ve submitted your work and it’s never been accepted, does that mean it’s bad?

I believe that all art forms need talent, first and foremost, there is no doubt about that. But you also need a helluva lot of luck. You can be the best ever but you have simply sent to those who don’t get what everyone else would.

And the opposite sadly applies too many times.

We’ve all seen examples of the terrible becoming a fad simply due to initial acceptance. This doesn’t mean that it’s any good.

I would have loved to have made a living out of writing. Not because I wanted to be famous. I just, for one time in my life, wanted a reasonable income for doing something I love.

If you want to become famous and rich, you go for it. Ambition is ambitious and there is nothing wrong with that. But with great ambition comes the need for acceptance of great disappointment.

No matter your nationality, you need to find some inner Scots, you need to be ready to embrace the shitstorm of negativity.

Okay onto this week’s stories.

We had three new writers, one very deep author and one very shallow man.

To all our new writers, we welcome them, hope they have fun on the site and as always, we want to see more of their work.

Our topics this week included; an empty stage, joining, retirement, a hitman and paranoia.

As always our initial comments follow.

 

First up was our first new writer.

It’s been a pleasure having Jane as a part of our selection and publishing process. She is a delight to work with.

We think there is an awful lot more to come from this very talented lady.

Walk On By‘ got us off and running.

‘Super pace, excellent tone and even though it is long, it’s enthralling.’

‘The MC’s inner thoughts are brilliantly portrayed.’

‘The MC tried so hard it was heartbreaking.’

 

I was next up on Tuesday.

I hope that the idea of this story becomes the norm. Memory rooms should be available to every poor soul who is afflicted by this bastard of an illness. Us going to where they are is the way to go. Too many of us try to drag them back into these times and that just doesn’t work.

As always I need to thank Diane and Nik for all their support over the years.

Where They Are‘ was published on Tuesday.

 

On Wednesday we had one of our deeper writers.

Harrison Kim’s work always leaves you thinking and considering.

The Line Man’s Last Drive‘ broke the back of the week.

‘I love that every single set-up is open to interpretation.’

‘I guess that he’ll be cleaning up in the clouds or maybe sweeping up in the other place.’

‘So much to ponder on.’

 

New writer number two was published on Thursday.

The World From This High‘ was Andrew Jason Jacono’s first story on the site.

‘The capitals through the dialogue were interesting. Was this to show separation??

‘Dark scary and sad.’

‘You can’t convince yourself that he’s ultimately going to be fine, but he’s okay for now.’

 

And we finished with our last new writer.

A Sunset Of Blue Smoke‘ was Katriana Bryant’s offering on Friday.

‘I kept going back to this.’

‘The scene setting was excellent.’

‘I was intrigued by the white suits.’

 

Well, that’s us as done and dusted as a clean freak at an ash scattering.

I’m getting a repetitive stress injury due to writing this section.

Keep on commenting guys – It lifts the site. (Or tell us why you won’t comment! – That could be interesting.)

And have a go at The Sunday Re-Run. (Or tell us why you won’t have a go! – That also could be interesting.)

Just pick an older story that you’ve enjoyed, send us an introduction or spiel and throw in a few questions for the writer. We’ll publish exactly what you send us.

Just to finish off.

I see that our version of The Borgias had a wedding this week.

I don’t know if it is a myth about Americans being jealous of Britain having a Royal Family – Trust me guys, if this is true you aren’t missing much. When you think on it, you are going against your idea of The American Dream. British Royalty is a born privilege and not an equal opportunity turning into a self-made success.

There was much Hoo-Hah about a missing Prince and where he was when the photos were being taken.

He was out the picture offering a flower girl a tenner.

Not being in a previous photograph would have been a better idea.

To all our American Friends – Liberace was as much royalty as you’ll ever need!

 

Hugh

 

*This is two weeks in a row I need to thank Mr Kluger for giving me inspiration.

Last week it was his story that we were considering that gave me the Marvin Gaye idea.

And this week his answer to one of Leila’s questions in the Sunday Re-Run gave me the catalyst for this.

Cheers my fine friend!!!

Image – pixabay.com

11 thoughts on “Week 282 – Genre Before Character Or Plot, An Asterix For Adam And Irony From Not Being There”

  1. Diane,
    The image really did make me laugh and then I realised, so…
    …Could you confirm that the image is crumpled up paper and not crumpled up tissues.
    I’d hate anyone to think this had anything to do with my thoughts on Liberace or even more worryingly yoan Andrew thing.
    Hugh

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Diane.
        I didn’t want to ruin my street cred!
        …Okay, I’ve no street cred but I didn’t want to ruin the already low opinion!!
        Hugh

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe that some writers have a specific genre in mind, but the good ones do it because they love, say, Westerns, and feel compelled to write their own oater, and aren’t moved just to capitalize on a specific market. I would say that our example Zane Grey had better had really really love his genre on the off chance he becomes successful in it. If he brings home plenty of gold to the publisher from the lone prairie, he’ll have to get as big as Stephen King to get a chance at doing something else.
    Personally, it’s characters first. I don’t give a damn how interesting the story is if the people in it are boring.
    I believe the image to be a discarded letter writ by Liberace to Michael Douglas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leila,
      Now that would be a challenge – Write an exciting story with boring characters or write a boring story with exciting characters!
      Going with boring on both fronts is often tried but never works!
      Ah Michael Douglas and Liberace – Too many thoughts!!
      …And all unprintable!!!
      Thanks as always – You make my day!
      Hugh

      Like

  3. For me, it is characters first, characters always. The rest takes care of itself. I am but a minion to the voices of the characters. If I have it right (not always!!) the characters take over and tell me what is going to happen, what they see, what the damn genre is, if any. It is the same for descriptions: I see what the characters see. If I try to impose my vision on the story, it turns into shite right quick. Or, better, when the character breaks “The Wall” and tells me: “I wouldn’t say that, you silly oaf! What are you playing at?”

    Publishing? Oy! I probably put in thirty to fifty hours a week whilst engaged in work linked to writing. I would guess that half of that is the fun stuff: writing, pondering, listening to the characters as they haunt my dreams. The other half is the drudge work of submissions and all the dreck that goes with it. Does it give me validation to be published? Yes, it does. Do I make any money at it? Yes, but not much more than a street urchin beggar in Dublin, circa 1843.

    What I can say is this: The greatest joy and reward I derive from writing a story is when whatever I have written touches or moves a single reader. That is the best high ever, and the best reason I can come up with for continuing to scribble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, I would agree with you esp. the last paragraph. To touch and move the reader is what I want, above all. I have plots that come from dreams, and the characters are often composites of people I’ve known in my life… then after a while, like you say, they tend to take on a life of their own. Endings are difficult, because the characters keep on performing. The ending has to relate to a theme, I guess, and often I don’t even know the theme until after I’ve written several different endings. Genres are cool, I never thought I’d ever write in the speculative fiction genre, or in horror, but sometimes I can’t find anything real to write, and the unreal becomes tempting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Harrison,
        Thanks as always for your input.
        That is a very interesting point regarding the ending having a theme.
        I’ve never really considered that but the more I think on it, I reckon you are onto something. I can’t say I consciously think this way, but as all stories have a point to them, that point develops and maybe that is more writer input than natural character development.
        All the very best my friend.
        Hugh

        Like

    2. Hi Marco,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.
      I totally agree with your thoughts on characters. If any new writers ask us for advice, part of it is always that they will know when they are getting there when the characters start whispering to them.
      Sadly some writers shy away from where those whispers take them.
      Great to see you around the site!
      All the very best my friend.
      Hugh

      Like

  4. Whilst I’m a virgin to the world of writing fiction, I’ve had a few historical pieces published. Strict demarcations between fact and literature belie the collisions of history, fiction, myth and memory (see my https://www.londonfictions.com/james-curtis-the-gilt-kid.html – no apologies for the self-advertising).
    In answer to your questions:
    1) I doubt people set out to choose a genre, they wish to tell a tale. When writing history, I tackled questions unanswered by others.
    2) You take your inspiration from a single line. Likewise, I’ve always noted down interesting turns of phrase, eavesdropped on conversations etc etc. These observations spark me.
    3) Regarding images, I find it helpful to think cinematically. If stuck, I visualize how the story unfolds.
    4) I’ve only studied English up to A level (a long time ago), so unqualified to talk about the value of creative writing classes. Though some sort of training can’t hurt. Here are two pieces from the Guardian for and against such classes:
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/20/creative-writing-course-snobbery-writers
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/04/creative-writing-courses-waste-of-time-hanif-kureishi
    Reading in the genre in which you wish to write (unconscious emulation) helps.
    5) Validation depends on the kind of boost you’re looking for. I know that far more people read my (now aborted) blog on crime history than read my essays in paywall protected peer-reviewed journals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stefan,
      Thanks so much for such a detailed reply.
      I was interested to read the two articles.
      One says black the other says white and there are only a few opinions that merge. All their points are fair and it comes down to the individual on whether or not they would want to sign up to any of these workshops / courses. I think as long as they go into them with the understanding that none of it is a guarantee of anything, then it is completely up to the person.
      We have been doing this for over five years now and the one thing I would totally agree with is that a lot of people can write very well, but there are a lot less who can write an interesting story.
      All the very best my friend.
      Hugh

      Like

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