Learning from the masters

I wasn’t going to post today because it’s Labor Day and my husband goes back to work tonight after a long weekend and I was enjoying vegging in front of the TV eating chili and not doing much of anything.

Then my sister called with some writing questions. She has recently become disabled and been forced out of the working world. She has always had a gift to write, but no time in which to do it. Her newfound schedule has re-awakened that interest inside her. Talking to her; encouraging and answering the questions I could based on my own limited understanding got my creative juices flowing. After reading the other Tsaba House authors’ posts from last week convinced me to blog on my usual Monday.

I believe any author who wants to keep growing and gettting better–and like Sam asked, who among us doesn’t?–can learn things about our profession everywhere we look. I even view commercials now from a critic’s point of view. The most obvious place to look is in the books we are reading. Where did Author X get the idea for that book? How does Author Y consistently reach Number 1 on all the bestseller lists with every book she writes? Is it a fluke? Talent? A grand marketing campaign? Or a little of each? What can I do to mimic his/her success?

It all begins with quality writing. Whether fiction or non, we must strive for perfection as we know it. I realize there’s no accounting for taste. I consider myself an imaginative person, but I never would have suspected the popularity of TV’s South Park or Monday Night RAW among countless others. But these shows appeal to a certain demographic and have made tons of money for somebody more discerning than yours truly.

What I see as quality may be nothing more than drivel to you. No matter how gifted or prolific we are, our writing won’t appeal to everyone. So how can we write the stories on our hearts while appealing to a big enough audience that our publishers at Tsaba House continue to put money behind our projects?

I read a book recently about a woman who was the victim of a crime. Her reaction to the situation was ridiculous. No person on the planet, especially a woman in a remote area with no means of protecting herself, would have done what this character did. And her reason for behaving the way she did was even weaker.

I skimmed through the book, determined to find out what this well-known CBA suspense writer is doing to sell so many books since I hope to write more suspense novels. Undoubtably this book will make some bestseller lists, regardless of what I think.

I agree with Aaron that we can learn from everything we read, even genres outside our normal comfort zone. I prefer character-driven books. But the character must behave rationally, even if that rationale is tainted by circumstances that happened long before the book began.

Have a great week.
Teresa

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