Ann Leckie on Breaking One Rule

Ann Leckie is very wise. (And a very good writer. If you haven’t read Ancillary Justice yet, it’s time to pick up a copy.) She posted a comment on my “Break One Rule” blog entry yesterday. I asked her if I could re-post it here, since comments stay on whichever mirror they’re posted to, and what she says is valuable. Graciously, she agreed, so here’s what she had to say:  Continue reading

Break One Rule

Coincidental to last week’s post about how your story is in conversation with whatever else is being published, the old question about whether or not you should write for the market or write what you want to write sprung up on a writer’s forum I’m on. Incidentally, the answer to this question is actually ridiculously simple: If writing to the market helps you sell more, then do so; if it does not, then write what you want. If you’re reading extensively in the field, instinctively saying, “Oh, I like what she did, I’m borrowing that,” or “No, no, no, this is how that kind of story should be told,” then you’re doing the sort of market research required to write for the market, whether you’re conscious of it or not. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of “writing for the market” and only producing derivative work that won’t excite an editor. It’s similarly easy to fall into the trap of writing what you want and collecting lots of “This is beautifully done, but not right for us” personal rejection letters. So, it’s fair to ask, how does one deliberately enter this interfictional conversation, write for the market and sell, etc.? Continue reading

Your Story and Their Stories

Author Caren Gussoff has a post on the SFWA Blog about the differences between spec fic and lit fic. She called out two major differences: that voice/style are predominant drivers of lit fic stories and that lit fic stories are necessarily character-oriented. I agree, and I commented over there with what I see as a third difference. But as it’s also applicable to SF and worthy of greater exploration, I wanted to talk about it in more depth here. And that difference is to what extent your piece is meant to be in dialogue with what other writers are doing.

To explain what this means, I’ll take a spec fic example: The vampire story. Continue reading