Jul 26, 2010

Writing from the Heart to the Wallet

I see a philosophy throughout many comment posts on blogs: I write from my heart and not to the market. I'm concerned this suggests there is no artistic integrity writing to a market's needs. 

My process in writing is to look at genres and markets and decide which I'd like to write - then I write it. Of course I have to have an interest in the topic (as fashionable as they are, I can't write about teenage vampires in love). When I decided to write a kid's mystery novel, I studied kid's mystery novels came up with a plot and wrote to an outline.

I like my plots and themes, but... I'd be willing to change 90% of my manuscript if a publisher/agent/more-experienced-writer convinced me it would improve the story and allow it to fit within a genre/market. Before you gasp in horror at my ease in selling-out, here's where I'm coming from:
  • I've a limited amount of experience with writing novels and assume almost everyone within the industry has a better idea of what my book needs than I do.
  • I want tweens and teens to enjoy reading my fiction, I don't want to them to have to endure it.
  • In the critiques I've had so far, some input has been a possible alternative (not really better or worse), so, I've gone with my gut, but most has been on keen observations and improved my manuscript.
My opinion is that you can write for a market and write from your heart - you don't have to choose one over the other. Even if you are given strict guidelines to adhere to, each writer's style will be different. Journalists do not choose inspiration randomly, either they are appointed an assignment, or they write to current and relevant issues. Yet, each journalist has their own flair.

You would think there wasn't much room for personalising your work in copywriting, but check out how this clever advertising guru markets the infamous Three Wolf Moon t-shirt:
1,647 people to date have added their own amazing testimonials to the 'awesomeness' of this shirt - you can see them on the Amazon site.

Maybe if I wore a Three Wolf Moon shirt I'd be able to write a piece of literary genius from the heart that has no need to fit into any genre or market. Hmm, maybe that was Kafka's secret.

My inspiration for writing this post has come from:

Writing in the Wilderness
and
A Million Blogging Monkeys

39 comments:

  1. I don't believe you can force fiction. You should write what you want, and if that's from the heart, then so be it. You have to believe, and OK you may need to tweek here and there to fit a market but that's fine if you're thinking of publication. There's always self publication if you just want to go all out and do what you want - liberate yourself and your imagination! Karen.

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  2. I agree with you! After three books not making through the query war, I did think about market more with the fourth and fifth books. For instance, I love unicorns, but I'm not going to write about them. At least not right now. :) I thought Space Pirates would be more marketable.

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  3. The English Writer - You're right, I was thinking from the point of view of market first then write (which is what I enjoy because I like to write for the reader) but you could also write then adapt for market.

    Aubrie - Space Pirates would definitely be a crowd pleaser! ;-j

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  4. Nothing is worse than reading your own book and not liking it. If it doesn't come from the heart, you will feel that. Keep writing the way you do.

    CD

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  5. I agree - and think it's possible to write to a balance of both. Of course, we need to write what interests us or are passionate about, but really, if there's no market for it, I don't see the point if you are trying to be published.

    My goal is publication so I definitely consider the market before I choose a story idea to pursue.

    In the end, there's nothing wrong with writing to either - what moves you or the market but it's sure a bonus if you can do both.

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  6. Thoughtful post and it's a topic always worth considering. I'd have to say I veer toward writing from my heart. And then I hope for an audience. It may be backwards but it's the only way that works for me.

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  7. I agree with you. I think you can write your own story, but be aware of the market at the same time. If we want to publish, I think we kind of have to do this :)

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  8. This is a great post! I just did a post about this on The Literary Lab last week because I had seen so many other posts about it lately. I liked what one person said about it not having to be one or the other. That's always a comforting thought. Since I have gone the way of self-publishing one of my books, I've learned a lot about marketability and writing from the heart without anyone telling me what to change or how to change. It has been a great challenge.

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  9. If you buy that shirt you are so going to have to take a picture and post it on your blog!!
    I love the idea of writing for tweens to love reading the novel and not having to endure it--very eloquently put. Excellent post!

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  10. Everything you said about writing from the heart and also for the market is right on target with my own feelings. Great post!

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  11. My story, I believe, was given to me from the Good Lord above. It free flowed so easily and soon beacme a trilogy. I can't really take any credit for it.

    Stephen Tremp

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  12. My story, I believe, was given to me from the Good Lord above. It free flowed so easily and soon beacme a trilogy. I can't really take any credit for it.

    Stephen Tremp

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  13. I write from the heart then tweak it for market. I want a paycheck and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. :) Just because you tweak it to make it more marketable does not mean you have to make it stink. It can still be great work and it has to be for a sale. Yes?

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  14. I love that there are so many different point of views and approaches to writing :-)

    Thanks for all the comments!

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