Tag Archives: genre

Unique–just like everything else!

I just finished reading “Pack Dynamics” by Julie Frost, which is a Bunniculaparanormal action adventure sci-fi urban fantasy medical thriller. The novel focuses on werewolves and vampires and a veteran with PTSD that finds himself stuck in the middle of some pretty crazy stuff.

One key feature in the novel is killer bunnies. This is not a new concept–heck, there’s an entire game series about that. There’s the horror movie “Night of the Lepus”. There’s the kids book “Bunnicula”. There’s even Monty Python. We’re told continually as authors to be original, and yet we see ideas like killer bunnies surfacing again and again. So how does Frost get away with it?

While some things get used so much they run the danger of becoming cliché, authors can actually get away with quite a lot if they’re reasonably careful. In this case her bunnies are important to the plot, but they’re not the plot itself. They’re test subjects in some mad science, and don’t actually play a direct role in resolving any of the plot. It works in this instance because they’re used in a way that is not so unusual: lab animals. There’s a reason why they’re killer bunnies, and their purpose for being is to provide the protagonists a believable way of solving a serious problem.

So if you’re going to borrow an idea that’s been done before it’s not the end of the world. Just try to make your idea fit your story in a way that’s believable, and see if you can’t tweak it just enough to not look like a direct attempt to borrow someone else’s idea. Had the bunnies gotten loose and started leaping around ripping out people’s throats I probably would have started quoting Monty Python (“they’ve got…teeth! And they can…leap!”) and set the book aside to pick up something else.

But in starting to write this post it occurred to me that Frost actually borrows an even more obvious idea: this is a vampire and werewolf novel! Those are so incredibly not new that I totally missed it! The point, I decided, is that sometimes ideas become so prevalent they become an intrinsic part of the genre–or even a genre unto themselves. There is a specific audience out there looking for vampire and werewolf novels; they’re not about to complain that the idea has already been done–it’s why they’re reading the book!

So the point is you have to be aware of what’s out there so that you can make your ideas as original as possible, but also don’t sweat too much over it. No one worries any more about putting space ships in their sci-fi–it’s not so much an idea as an expectation, or part of the setting. No one will even question it.

On the other hand, turning those expectations on their heads can be a great source of ideas. Could we have a sci-fi novel where everything happens on a planet that has no space-flight capability? We have an entirely new sub-genre growing in the fantasy genre–a genre sometimes called sword-and-sorcery–using early muskets instead of swords!

If you’re concerned about an idea being too unoriginal you might consider running it past some well-read friends. If you tell them you have an idea for an Arthurian legend where Arthur is actually an oppressor trying to move England away from democracy and into hereditary monarchy, and you have this lovely scene in mind where he’s trying to convince two peasants why they should accept him as their king they might be able to warn you what not to do to avoid it coming out like Monty Python–or at least warn you that it’s been done and you’ll want to refine your idea so as to make it more unique.

On the other hand, if they start getting excited about the idea and extrapolating further based on what you’ve given them, you might know you’ve got a winner.

But if they tell you “Sorry, Arthurian Legend reboots have been done,” well… Find out what they’ve seen before and go ahead anyway. For all we know Arthur reboots could become the next “black-powder fantasy.”

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Of Authors and Audiences

I’ve been thinking lately about authors I’ve enjoyed through he years. Some I’ve “been with” a long time. Some I’ve discovered only recently. And some have fallen by the wayside. Considering how we are constantly told our success as authors depends on finding an audience, perhaps there’s some value to discussing the different ways authors might lose their audience and some ideas for keeping them.

People change. Authors change. It’s quite clear that some authors I used to love are not the same people they were when I first loved their work, and it shows. We’ve diverged over the years to where I just don’t enjoy their work as much as I used to. The things I loved about their earlier work are evidently not something they care about any more.

Now, the flip side of that is that I’ve undoubtedly changed, too. I may care less about certain aspects of their writing than I used to, too. Perhaps while our respective changes only “bumped the dial” a little bit, collectively it was enough to put us on different stations in the end.

Oh, I can still go back and enjoy the books that made me like them in the first place, certainly, but I just don’t pick up their new books any more. And while it’s probably flattering to an author to have people devoted to their old books, financially it’s a problem. We don’t get money from readers who only re-read the books we wrote years ago. We need to them to remain excited about our latest works as they come out.

Some of this may be related to our target audience. If we write children’s books we can pretty much guarantee our audience is going to outgrow us at some point. YA writers may be able to retain their audiences into adulthood, but it’s still going to be more difficult. If we’re fortunate, we can enjoy sufficient longevity as a writer to still be around when they grow up and decide to buy our books for their own children.

However, the interests of children do change over time, and as writers we would have to keep with those changes in order to appeal to subsequent generations. I’ve discovered on several occasions that books I enjoyed as a kid feel dated to my kids. If the writer is still writing that way today it’s doubtful my kids will want to read more.

But even among adult writers retaining an audience can be a challenge. Writers’ interests can change, and your readers don’t always change along with you. Numerous writers through the years have had a single break-out novel only to fail to find an audience with their next work, because it failed to meet their expectations in some way. Or worse yet, if all of an author’s works begin to feel the same, audiences can grow bored and go elsewhere for some novelty.

Similarly, some writers try something different and find their audience doesn’t follow them. For whatever reason their readers as so interested in their original works they just don’t even want to give the new work a chance. I remember enjoying Terry Brooks’ Shannara books as a teenager, but when he came out with “Magic Kingdom For Sale” the tone was so different I was turned off and stopped reading Brooks altogether. J.K. Rowling, whose initial readers are surely adults by now, still has some difficulty getting her audience to read her adult novels.

Other writers just accept that their audience won’t follow them and instead reach out to build a new audience. Richard Paul Evans switched gears entirely to write YA adventures and did quite well at it, and yet it seems unlikely that the fans of his original adult novels got excited about his Michael Vey books.

Brandon Sanderson likewise has targeted the adult, YA, and middle grade markets with his work and found at least respectable success in each. And yet large portions of his audience do cross over with him. I’m one of them. While his Alcatraz books were different enough they didn’t grab me, The Rithmatist is one of my favorites. I enjoyed his Reckoners series of superhero-esque YA books, but I love his Stormlight Archive series so far and can’t get enough of his modern-day, largely reality-based Legion novellas.

So how do we successfully keep our audiences reading us? Well, looking at the above examples there are a few strategies:

  1. Don’t try. Some writers just accept that their readers are going to rotate over time, whether it’s because they write children’s fiction and they’re going to outgrow those books eventually, or because the writer likes to try different things. If you are prepared to have to continually keep earning new audiences you can still build a career on it. Just learn what audience it is you’re trying to attract, learn what it is they’re looking for, and deliver it in spades.
  2. Stick close to home. Many writers find one genre they’re comfortable in, perhaps even one setting or set of characters, and focus on that ad infinitum. Or if they do branch out a little, it’s within the same genre or sub-genre, or with novels of a similar tone or theme.
  3. Write really, really well. Some writer are able to write so well and/or consistently deliver an intriguing style that their readers will follow them everywhere. In the case of Brandon Sanderson much of his success comes from his consistent style and magic systems. No matter what he’s writing, his readers know what to expect, and it’s what they like most about him. So whether it’s the Mistborn series jumping from fantasy to quasi-Westerns, or epic fantasy jumping to near-future dystopic superhero fiction, his readers know they’re in good hands, and they follow along. Stephen King is another author who seems to be able to do this.
  4. Make sure your marketing is solid. The one things you absolutely don’t want to have happen is for your marketing to convince your reader they’re getting one type of book and instead they get something very, very unexpected. I bailed out on Terry Brooks because I was hoping for more Shannara, and instead got something that almost seemed to be mocking the genre I was expecting. Michaelbrent Collings somehow manages to keep his horror readers, his children’s readers, and his YA readers clued in on what type of book they’re looking at via careful consideration of covers and marketing. It would be a disaster for him if one of his Billy fans were to pick up “The Apparition” expecting it to be a children’s book.

The main take-aways here are nothing new. Write well. Tell a good story. Know your audience. But even if you change things up it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the authors I’ve parted ways with through the years are still happily producing and publishing and making money without me. I may not be reading them, but clearly someone else is. The key is, whatever route you take, make it a conscious effort. Know what you’re trying to do and have a plan for how you’re going to do it. Most lengthy careers don’t happen by accident.

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Episode #58 – Picking the Right Genre and Publisher with James Wymore

james-wymore
Growing up on a steady diet of Spider-man cartoons and television shows like Batman and Wonder Woman, James Wymore knew he would someday grow to find his own super powers and join the fight for justice. He did everything right, from experimenting with arson to jumping from great heights, but his ability to control fire or fly never kicked in.

As he went past the teen-age years, he accepted that he probably didn’t have a mutant power waiting to kick in. Neither would he discover alien origins, so he threw himself into discovering enhancements that would bring his latent abilities to the surface. He travelled the world studying arcane magic. Throughout college, he experimented with volatile chemicals, extreme temperatures, lasers, and various forms of radiation.

Eventually, he discovered the power of hypnosis through fantastic stories. He plunged into writing, filling his work with the subtle triggers that would allow him to one-day take control of all his readers’ minds and use them as an army to take over the literary world. Until that day, he works tirelessly to create more and better books.

About James Duckett

James is a geeky, nerdy dude. He writes, sometimes. He blogs, sometimes. He's helpful to people, sometimes. He doesn't like to repeat himself, sometimes. He's funny... looking... always.

His hopes and aspirations of the future is to one day find a way that people will pay him while he sleeps. It is his dream job.

Genre changes

We’re in the process of adjusting to a new dog. We didn’t think it would be this hard. We tend to adopt older dogs, who are supposed to have less energy. This one is defying convention. He paces around the house constantly, bringing us toys and wanting to play.  We take him for walks. We play with him until we can’t stand it any longer.

Every dog has its own unique traits and quirks. So does every genre. It takes a while to understand its conventions, its forms, it’s “rules”. And as my college music theory professor used to tell us, you have to understand the rules before you can break them.  You can have a mystery novel without a detective, for example, but you can’t have a mystery novel without some sort of mystery to be solved.

But why should you care? Why try different genres if you like the one you’re working in now? Well, I can think of a few reasons:

  1. Removing limits – Perhaps you’re limiting yourself, and might actually be a better writer in a different genre. Dan Wells, for example, was determined to be a fantasy writer. Finally he tried something a little different and write a horror/suspense novel. Eight novels later he’s yet to publish a fantasy novel. But meanwhile he’s published suspense, horror, science fiction, and YA.
  2. Experience for crossovers – Some of the most successful books these days could be considered crossovers or mashups. I’ve been reading “Lamentation” from the “Shardlake” series by C.J. Sansom, which is a mashup of historical fiction and mystery.
  3. Focus on new skillsets– Different genres may focus on different aspects of the writer’s craft more heavily. Literary fiction, for example, may require stronger description, analogy, and metaphor. Romance may teach you better character interaction and describing emotions in new ways. Children’s literature may teach you to communicate ideas more simply and directly.

Of course you don’t necessarily need to write in a new genre to learn more about them. The same points could be offered as impetus for broadening your reading list. The more genres you include the more you can pull from those genres in your own writing.

Most writers are also readers, and may be more widely read than most. But if you find yourself in a rut, either in your writing or your reading, considering breaking out into some new ground for a while. You don’t have to stay, but you might enjoy the trip

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

Episode #53 – Transitioning to Horror with Andrea Pearson

Episode #53 – Transitioning to Horror with Andrea Pearson aboutpage

 

To learn more about Andrea Pearson, visit her website at http://andreapearsonbooks.com/

About James Duckett

James is a geeky, nerdy dude. He writes, sometimes. He blogs, sometimes. He's helpful to people, sometimes. He doesn't like to repeat himself, sometimes. He's funny... looking... always.

His hopes and aspirations of the future is to one day find a way that people will pay him while he sleeps. It is his dream job.

Episode #49 – A Journey Through Genre with Tristi Pinkston

Darth EditusThis week’s guest: Tristi Pinkston!

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. After receiving much parental acclaim for my first masterpiece, titled “Sue the Dog,” I tried my hand at poetry. This phase lasted until my early teens, at which point my poems took a decidedly macabre turn and I decided to abandon it in favor of fantasy. That … turned out to be a fantasy.

I was taught at home by my parents. After I graduated from high school, I took two correspondence courses from Brigham Young University in creative writing, and also a course in floral design from International Correspondence Schools. After that, I took a job working at a floral shop, which I loved.
At the tender age of 18, I met then 34-year-old Matt Pinkston of Eugene, Oregon. We were engaged on our tenth date. This consequently sent my parents into shock. After we revived them, we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. I was 19 by that time, which, as we all know is so much older than 18.
We started our family with a baby girl, and then added three boys to the mix.  They’re extremely smart, beautiful, talented, spiritual, well-behaved … well, would you expect anything less of my children?
When my first son was about 8 months old, I had a strange dream which piqued my interest in World War II. As I hit the Internet and did research at the library, the story of “Nothing to Regret” came to life and was published in 2002.
The week after my fourth child joined our family in 2004, my second book “Strength to Endure” was released, written about World War II from the perspective of a German family. It was quite a kick to have a baby boy and a baby book at the same time.
March of 2008 saw a new addition to our family. No, not a child … a book. “Season of Sacrifice,” the true story of my Hole-in-the-Rock ancestors and a labor of love, was printed by Golden Wings. To tell the experiences I had while writing this book would take far too long, but I feel blessed to have been able to help preserve the memory of these remarkable pioneers and to feel of their spirit while I told their story.
With the release of “Agent in Old Lace” in 2009, I headed out into uncharted territory. Well, uncharted for me. I had never envisioned myself writing contemporary novels—I had always pictured myself sticking with historical fiction. But one day, the idea for “Agent in Old Lace” popped into my head, and I wrote it down. It’s undergone many changes since then, and I’m not sure if those who read the first version would even recognize it, but it’s all been for the better. And what a fun ride it has been! I have to admit, I have just the tiniest little crush on Rick Holden.
Most fun of all has been writing “Secret Sisters,” published in 2010. My little ladies bring out my whacky sense of humor, and I know for a fact that they talk to me and put words in my head. I look forward to sitting down to write and seeing what they’ve been up to. The release of “Dearly Departed” in January of 2011 fulfills a dream of mine – having a series published.
I’m a stay-at-home mom, a home schooler, a media reviewer, an editor, a regular presenter at the LDStorymakers’ writers conference, a Cubmaster, and a headless chicken. In addition to the novels I write, I maintain a blog which contains tips for aspiring authors and also my own personal ramblings, which sometimes make sense and sometimes do not. I enjoy reading, watching good movies, and making scrapbooks. I enjoy cooking and consider it a minor miracle when I can get all four children to like the same meal. I also enjoy making shopping lists (which I sometimes actually use), spending time with my kids, and taking Sunday afternoon naps, which are so necessary.

About James Duckett

James is a geeky, nerdy dude. He writes, sometimes. He blogs, sometimes. He's helpful to people, sometimes. He doesn't like to repeat himself, sometimes. He's funny... looking... always.

His hopes and aspirations of the future is to one day find a way that people will pay him while he sleeps. It is his dream job.

When Are You Too Old for MG?

HP 1A scene comprised of seventeen adults, ranging in ages from 21-70, all dressed in wizard robes and playing a game of Quidditch in a field behind a retirement community is probably something you’d only see in a movie. For me, it was just another Harry Potter Party. Who hasn’t heard of the story about an orphan boy who discovers he is belongs to a secret society of wizards? Who hasn’t noticed the earnings made in the movie rights alone—or the theme park called Wizard World? If you haven’t, chances are you’ve been hiding under a rock. The Harry Potter books have surpassed the expectations of any MG reader.

MG—or middle-grade books, may seem like they are written solely for kids the age of 9-12 but reality tells a different story. The party I described started out with adults–only adults, that were reading the Harry Potter books. We read them because there was something in there that grabbed at our heart strings and made us feel younger. More and more I see adults favoring MG books over the books geared toward them as adults. Why you might ask? There are several reasons why readers choose MG.

The first reason is because the books are geared toward children, they are clean books. They are removed from sexual content, vulgar language, and graphic violence. In a world that is at the brink of everything rated R, MG offers content that is worry free. It allows us to escape in a book and not have to worry about what we might find. ss-front-710px

Another reason is that these books help us to relate with our younger selves. Who says your inner teen isn’t still around? The reason I write MG is because these are the books I would have read when I was a kid. I also refer to MG books as “tween” books. Tween books are bridges to help teens cross over to adult. To help them find their way out of the in-be-tween. These books help tweens embrace themselves and help them find their identity in a world full of loud voices. I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful genre a books.

To answer the question above, you are never too old to read MG. Like those happy, Quidditch playing adults, they fell in love with a MG book and embraced the magic found within its pages.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Star Wars and Romance

Couple by Photostock
Image courtesy of Photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Romance is BIG right now. The majority of the publishers I look at are very interested in this genre. Not so much the hot and steamy stuff (although some want that), but clean-want to read over and over-romance. Like all genre fiction, romance too has a formula. It’s not very hard to figure out. I do not write romance but that doesn’t mean I can’t figure out how to do it. Watch any romantic comedy and you’ll nail it. But if you don’t have time for that, here it is:

  1. Boy meets girl. Or called the “Meeting”.
  2. Stuff happens. The scenes or events after the “meeting” that lead up to the “courtship”.
  3. Boy gets girl. Or called the “Courtship”.
  4. Happily Ever After*. Or the “Conclusion”. *however clichéd this might be it is the most important element in writing a romance: there are no sad or unhappy endings in romance, it is not what the audience expects or wants. 52% of all book sales are romance genre so you have to keep within the formula given to appease your readers.kiss-bespin2

Remember that no formula is concrete, but this should serve as the skeleton you build a story around. In order to be a romance the story has to focus on the couple. Sure there can be more plot to the story but overall it has to be about them. Think about 70% of the story focused on the couple and you got it. The presents of conflict should be very present and never forget the laws of attraction. Oh yeah, let’s not forget: never ever mistake a tragedy for a romance. Shakespeare did not write a good romance with Romeo and Juliet, it was a tragedy.84690-004-D096CCF6

Your next steps.

  • The Meeting: this is where you reader decides whether the story is an investment of their time. How the couple meets has to be unique and fun. If you botch up the meeting you have lost your reader. Make it interesting.
  • The Courtship: this is just stuff. Things must happen. Your hero and Heroin will be different for each situation. This is also a good time to have conflict arise in the story. Fighting for these two to be together, obstacles to overcome, ect.
  • The Conclusion: this is just as important as the meeting to your readers. Again, if you botch up the ending it will result in your book being thrown across the room and people telling one another not to read it.

An Example of a Good Romance: Star Wars Episodes 4-5.

  • Han-and-Leia-leia-and-han-solo-30716033-500-212Episode 4, The Meeting: Han and Leia meet and there is an immediate sexual tension between them. He is an outlaw renegade, but who is internally good, she is a sexy princess with a temper and all for the rebellion. You can tell from the beginning that they have it for each other.
  • i-love-you-i-know-han-solo-leia-star-warsEpisode 5, The Courtship: There is still the sexual tension between them, but now we see them blossoming into a couple. By the end of the film we know that they are in love with each other and something good will come of it. It ends perfectly with Leia telling him she loves him and him whispering, “I know”. However they are separated as Han is frozen in carbonate…sad!
  • Episode 6, The Conclusion: Leia plays up her role as a heroine and rescues Han from Jabba, but then latter ends up being captured herself and placed in a sexy costume. They continue with the back story of Luke, but we the reader now know they are a couple. The movie ends with them together—a happy ever after.han_leia_shoulder_1_

Things to Avoid: Never make your hero look stupid. Your hero also has to be likable. No age inappropriate things they are hard to get over. No whining heroes—the heroine has to be able to look up to him. Heroine can seem a little clueless but has to get it together—an underlining core of adorability. Something redeeming about them needs to be shown. Now go use this a write a romance or incorporate some romance into your story. Happy Writing!

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Learning to Write by Reading

by Brenda Bensch

reading

I don’t know about you, but I’m still reeling from the outpouring of information at the LTUE three-day conference held Feb. 14-26, 2013 (Light, the Universe and Everything, for any who are unfamiliar with it).  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to thank at least a handful of the participants by sharing my take on what they offered.

An excellent panel on “How to Read to Learn Writing,” consisting of Adam Meyers, Laryssa Waldrom, Emily Sorensen, Christopher Loke, and Tyler Whitesides, reminded me of several points I’d like to share with my students, my blog readers, and all the LTUE participants who just couldn’t make it to every session all three days.  Among other excellent ideas, they proposed the following to improve your own writing:

1.  Don’t read only “your” genre, but expose yourself to other genres.  Specifically go to the originals” of specific genres, and the really old masters like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Ovid, etc.
2.  Read what you’ve already read.
a.  The first time, read as a fan, to find out “what happens.”
b.  The second read through, notice how the author made you feel what you felt.
c.  On the third read, figure out why the author made you feel that way.

3.  Read to examine POV (Point of View).  How is the story told through that POV? Could you replicate such a stance?  If you’re not sure, figure out how you could do the same thing.

4.  Don’t “just” read: rewrite.  Rewrite scenes from “good” books, attempting to copy the style, tone, rhythm, etc., into a scene from your life and/or book.

5.  Read everything you can lay hands on within your sub-genre.  Figure out the “rules” for that type of writing.

6.  Analyze something in a popular genre.  “Rewrite” it into a different genre.  Vampires in one book might become faeries, farmers, skeletons, pirates, horses, or giants in another.

7.  Go to a library or book store and read the first sentence (or even the first paragraph) in many, many, many books, all at once.  What did you learn?

8.  Most importantly, Live in order to write.  Expand your horizons by doing.  Expand by being.  Go to an art show.  A ballet.  A symphony.  An improvisation troupe performance.  Go sky diving.  Brush up your French, Spanish, Latin, whatever.  Hit that bucket list and do five things from it in a week.  ENJOY feeling alive by expanding.

Why are you just sitting there?  Go read something!

BIO: Brenda Bensch, M.A., is a teacher of multiple decades teaching in Utah’s university, college, high school and community ed. classrooms (English, fiction and non-fiction writing, drama, humanities, etc.)  Brenda writes YA fantasy, adult historical, articles, essays, poetry, adaptations, plays and screen plays. She invites you to “Ask The Teacher” at http://BenschWensch.wordpress.com

Brenda Bensch

BenschWensch@yahoo.com

or on The ABC Writers Guild at

www.benschwensch.wordpress.com

About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn wrote her first book, about a talking grandfather clock, when she was six – and hasn’t stopped writing since. In fact, she can’t “not write,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She hasn’t missed a day of writing in her journal for the past four years!

As a winner in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, Bonnie produced her latest dystopian novel, "Escaping Safety," and is now working on its sequel. She is also close to completing a fantasy romance series, "The Legends of Elldamorae," whose characters have captured her heart and can’t wait to have their stories revealed.

Bonnie’s mantra is, “I write because I believe every story deserves to be told.”

You can learn more about Bonnie, and read her inspirational blog posts, on Where Legends Begin at http://www.bonniegwyn.blogspot.com/

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.