Saturday, September 18, 2010

Two Streams of Thought (Part II)

Alrighty, I'm back!

Yesterday I blogged about my first recent revelation. In it, I talk about setting your goal too low (even if you already think its high) and about the persistence of successful people. There are several inspirational quotes at the bottom of that one, so if you're feeling down and need a little "pick me up," see the last post. :)

And on to the second of my two streams of thought...

I read and write fantasy, specifically YA fantasy. As a genre writer, I've been writing my stories as if to an audience of fantasy addicts like myself. Makes sense, right?

Well this week I realized that that's not a great mindset. It pigeonholes my stories a bit. They read in a way that a non-fantasy reader could be easily lost and not too keenly interested to begin with. This in itself is not a terrible thing. The pool of fantasy readers is broad and deep and there are plenty of successful fantasy books that do exactly as I've just described. I'd even go as far as saying that MOST science fiction stories are written as if speaking only to an SF reading audience.

But I'd like my stories to be available and interesting to more than just that one pool. Most, if not all, stories are ultimately about the human experience. Even if a story is all about aliens, it's really telling about how humans are NOT.

Therefore, I suspect if I shift my focus ever so slightly from the fantasy world and focus more on the human experience, a broader range of people might be able to enjoy my stories. No, this is not a gimmick to get more readers, but rather a means to let people, like say my grandmother, to enjoy a story that wouldn't fit in her typical reading list.

I see it more as an opportunity to introduce non-genre readers to fantasy without so much shock of the unfamiliar. Will it work for everyone? Certainly not. I myself cannot stand most murder mysteries, but occasionally an author delights me. This delight is without exception having to do with how I relate to the characters. The human experience.

So what do you think? Do you prefer to write a genre story focusing on the general human qualities, or to dig deep into genre, out of reach to the general audience (ex: high fantasy, hard core science fiction)? Do you target a genre specific audience or the world at large?

Happy writing!


Anonymous said...

Not being familiar with the rules of writing, I must ask..."why can't you do both types of writing?" I love the idea of fantasy your grandmother (me) can relate the story of the two sisters. I have never been able to get that story out of my mind and I need to know the ending. I loved it so much. I dislike reading, but could really get into stories like that one. I would in crafting....don't limit yourself to only once type of craft..???
But what do I know? lol

Anette J Kres said...

I don't really see it as "one or the other." It's more about percentages.

You could write a straight up high fantasy where only fantasy nerds would understand what's going on.

Or you could write a straight up real life story, without a hint of fantasy, that anyone can identify with, but many find lacking in the special "magic" of fantasy.

I suspect neither of these would sell well in the YA fantasy genre.

OR you could write 80% realistic/%20 fantasy
OR 60/40
OR 50/50
OR 30/70

I've decided it's about finding the right balance. At least that's my preference for my own writing.

I used to write 10% realistic / 90% fantasy, but I'm deciding I'd like a more even blend.

And I'm wondering how other genre writers like to handle their stories...