Day 443 – Embracing the Void.

I’ve just read a great article by Gwenna Laithland advising writers to use ‘white noise’.

Basically, white noise is the void – the bits you leave out which the reader then projects their own thoughts and imagination onto.

Laithland uses the example of a Harry Potter stage show casting Hermione Grainger with a black actress. J.K. Rowling admits that she never specified her heroine’s skin colour.

I often get caught up in feeling the need to give more detail in description and narration – partly because I write dialogue much more easily and my pages can quickly resemble a play script.

I like writers at both ends of the spectrum. The very precise and detailed, and the void.

So which is best?

I suppose the answer is write with detail when you need to manouveur the reader into a specific place and embrace the void where it really doesn’t matter.

I am still working on this.

Day 404 – Understand This.

Books and Vinyl Records.

The covers, the textures, the background noise.

E-books and digital downloads – somehow books seemed to have managed to miss out the equivalent stages of the CD and MiniDisc.

The future is . . .

. . . Books and Vinyl are making a comeback.

But there is a difference now.

The audiences are expecting something different.

They don’t consume in the way they did before.

Perhaps what is drawing music listeners back to vinyl is the art work of the album covers, the liner notes, the lyrics, the thank yous from the band. The things you don’t get is the same way when you stream or download.

For writers the landscape is somewhat different.

In his article on Medium, ‘The 3 Biggest Trends in Publishing Right Now‘ (June ’18), Steven Spatz writes:

What authors need to understand is this: you’re no longer just competing against other authors and books in the digital space. You’re also competing with TV, social media, games, movies, and more.

Writers are competing for the attention of readers who consume stories in different ways to before.

TV tends to be a character driven narrative over a number of episodes with discernible cliffhangers at the end of each one.

Film provides for 90-120 minutes of attention in one sitting – if there is popcorn.

Games focus on first-person action where you become the main character.

Social Media allows you to comment and influence your friends in bite-size chunks.

When your novel reaches 12 hours on audio-book and your 3rd Person narrative weaves an intricate web of symbolism throughout multiple chapters, you might not get many comments.

There is a market for the above, as I’m sure some people still proudly listen to their minidiscs, but to carve out a career as a writer you might need to pay closer attention to how and what your potential readers consume.

1st Person, quick-paced, climax to every chapter, in a story which keeps you guessing and motivated to chase the story to the end, might be one place to start. I’m sure this will work in every genre.

One hundred-ish page books, where a story is told over several volumes, might be another good place.

After all, Charles Dickens published some of his novels as chapters in his weekly magazine Household Words.

And we are back to vinyl again . . .

Two Kinds of Writing.

In his Medium article There Are 2 Kinds Of Writing. The Best Kind Plays At This Intersection. Nicholas Cole argues that the two kinds of writing are Stories and Articles.

Stories are written by writers who write because they have a story they want/need to write. Articles are stories (or they can be factually based articles in the traditional sense) which have been written with a specific audience in mind.

Read the article, Cole is a great writer and gives a lot of good advice.

If you haven’t read the article yet, or you are happy to go along with my very simple summary, then here is what resonated with me.

I submitted my first completed novel to a very successful agency. I discovered who the agents for my favourite novelist in that particular genre was and started there. I think they had seven of the best-selling novelists in the top twenty, with at least four in the top ten.

They were very polite about what I had written, but passed on the book.

As soon as I read their email, I understood the mistake I had made.

I say mistake – I had written the novel which I wanted to write. I enjoyed every page of writing it. I enjoyed writing the extra bits after my eldest son gave me feedback from reading the draft.

However, I had written a story in a genre which was different to all the other best-selling novels in that genre.

Next month, I will rewrite the story – I have another novel to finish this month – paying more attention to the conventions of the genre and what readers of that genre generally buy. I won’t be selling out. I won’t be completely rewriting it, but I will be making changes which is likely to get it more attention.

So, what are your currently writing? Stories or articles? And how can you meet somewhere in the middle?