Sunday, April 4, 2010

Examining Your Genre's Writers

Hi Friends,

Jason Pyles here again. I know you wouldn't think it, but that Fast Freddy Connors is smarter than he looks. I remember him encouraging us to browse through our genre of choice, noting how other writers successfully published the kinds of books we're hoping to someday publish.

Well, Fred is brilliant (though he won't take credit for initially having the idea). Indeed, it works wonderfully well! And trust me, you can glean a lot more than you might think:

For example, through some comparative study, I've noticed that the authors who write in my genre typically make their books between 275 to 350 pages. And since I'm writing a novel and a screenplay of the same story concept, I've noticed that for every one page of screenplay plot, there are approximately three pages of novel plot that cover the same ground — just more in-depth. (These are generalizations, of course.)

You can note how each writer's subplots are interwoven with one another, as well as the main plot; how character story arcs are developed and interrelated; etc. Oh, and I've been browsing through bookstores and just looking at how each author begins, noting what works and what doesn't work. The key is to be analytical and to make good notes for yourself.

In short, I'm glad I tried Fred's suggestion. I would encourage anyone in our group — regardless of your genre — to spend some time browsing through your section at the bookstore and see how the apparently successful writers do what you want to do.

And hey, who knows, at the very least, we can imitate what those writers are doing, and at most, we might even find a way to improve upon it.

Writing away from Salt Lake City,


  1. That is great advice. Not to take anything away from Fred, but the Writer's Market strongly recommends using that strategy to narrow down publishers and even agents who may be interested in your work. Some authors list their agent in the acknowledgements and that is a great way to build a list of agents as long as that author's work has a similar feel as yours. As always, Fred is right on target:)

  2. Hi Jason!

    Just wanted to say it was great hearing from you again...hope all is going well in Salt Lake City. Best of luck and happy writing!


  3. Hi Jo!

    Thank you. Quick question for you: I remember during your introduction that you still managed to write (and take online writing classes) even with your myriad responsibilities as a mom and a wife. I also remember that you said your sweet husband gives you a day, like Saturday morning or something, to get some writing done. I'm in a similar, busy position as a dad-husband-and day-jobber, and I was just wondering if you've figured out a daily system for being a prolific writer, as well as a family member. It seems like a basic, "go figure it out yourself," type of question, but I think it helps to hear other writers' systems. (Anyone else can also answer this, please.) Thanks. Take care.

  4. Jason, I almost laughed when you said the word "prolific." No, wait. I am laughing.

    Just kidding -- I only mean that I never feel like I get as much writing done as I should, and I suppose that's probably true for every writer (especially those of us trying to balance so many things at once).

    But what works for me -- including having an awesome, supportive hubby, as you mentioned -- is purposefully carving time into my calender to write. (And then planting my rear in a chair to do it, even when I don't feel like it). I literally look at the month in advance and check everyone else's schedules and commitments and work my time around it. I don't always get to write every day, but I try to make it REALLY count when I do. And I make sure everyone else sees it on the calendar, too, so they know I'm making it a priority.

    I'm a night person, so my time is usually after the kids are in bed, between 9 and 11. But occasionally I'll plan a weekday with a babysitter for more time. It's a lot of work and a lot of juggling -- most of the time I feel like I'm stealing time from sleep in order to do it. And sometimes I'm SO not motivated, and it's that much harder. (Lately I've been really lazy. I need to give myself a good kick in the rear).

    But really, I wish I knew some great techniques to pass along; sadly, I'm usually floundering myself. I picked up a book once called "Writer Mama," about how to balance everything -- and I thought it was actually a little impractical. One of the tips was to jot down thoughts and story ideas during lunch while your kids are eating. And my first thought was, "Really? Has this person ever eaten with kids? I'm lucky if I have time to grab a paper towel in between the morsels of food that are inevitably flying at each other or on the floor." But maybe my kids are just heathens. I don't know. Lol.

    So I think even the "real live" published writers out there struggle with it, and even their tips are obviously not going to work for everyone. So the best thing, I think, is to just keep your chin up and keep plugging away whenever you get the opportunity.

    Anyway, I hope this helps a little, and I think it's great that we're all able to keep in touch on here. Keep us updated on everything!

    Talk to you soon,