I try to write a post every week but this month has been a tough month. Last year, August was a tough month because my mother had died. This year, it was a tough month because I had too much to do: too much yard work, caring for the family garden (aphids are wiping out my melons and squash, but all my tomato plants are producing more fruit than sixty people can eat; quite literally) plus I have community obligations and social responsibilities and best of all a load of editing to do. Plus, I’ve begun the background work for a new novel.
Now, all my life I’ver written science fiction, with occasional forays into fantasy. And as always, my writing is about people and their conflicts. Their conflicts within themselves, their conflicts with others, their conflicts with Nature, their conflicts with Society. And any story can fit into any genre. Fantasy and science fiction can become techno-thrillers, crime novels, adventure novels, mystery novels, thrillers, even romance novels can fit into each other.
I’m not just suggesting that someone can write a romance novel that’s set in a fantasy or a science fiction formal, or even a western, what I’m saying is that if your story focuses on people and their conflicts, that story can fit into any genre or even mainstream literature.
But wait a minute, you might say, a novel like “Fifty Shades of Gray” cannot fit into any of those other categories. However, to quote comic John Pinette, I’d say, “Oh, nay, nay!” I’ve read fantasy novels where there’s more sex going on than story. And while quite a few people are attracted to that sort of thing, in the long run it’s just boring. People don’t escape to novels for sex, they escape to novels for adventure.
If fifty variations of “Fifty Shades of Gray” appear on the market, soon nobody will be reading them. It’s better to read the “Kama Sutra”, the ancient Indian guide to sex and love, than to waste your time reading fantasies about sex. Sex might sell, but too much sex and no story equals no readers. (Well, maybe a few, but nothing like “Fifty Shades” received.)
The most important thing to remember in writing is that no book is loved by everyone. Even favorite children’ s books are not loved by every child or every parent. There are, unfortunately, plenty of people who can care less about “Winnie the Pooh” or “The Cat in the Hat”. And for all the people who love the “Peanuts” comics or the TV shows “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” there are as many people who don’t.
So, what am I getting ready to write next? A western. I got the idea for it from listening to a Johnny Cash song, “I Hung My Head”. While listening to this mournful tune an idea popped into my head, What if you got a message from home that just said, “COME HOME”? And what if it took you a week to get home and you found out that your little brother, who had just turned 13, had just been executed for murder? Your first instincts, after mourning your brother, might be for vengeance and payback, but what if you were a law enforcement officer dedicated to finding out the truth, dedicated to justice? Now there’s internal conflict.
Your head tells you that justice is not revenge or getting even, that is just anger and hatred talking. Justice is rising above your emotions to find the truth. But your heart tells you that revenge is acceptable and you want to make the guilty pay for the suffering caused your family. And further, your heart tries to justify it by claiming that your brother’s life has been cut far too short.
Which do you listen to, your head or your heart? Or both? How can you not listen to both?
So, while I’m getting ready to submit my latest science fiction adventure, my head is filled with ideas and scenes and dialogue between characters I haven’t even figured out yet. I haven’t been this excited about writing for some time. I can barely wait to get started writing it.
I’ve loved writing every story I’ve ever written, even though the earliest were nothing more than cow droppings, but here I’m trying something new and as an explorer, who always has to see what’s over the next hill, even if its a five-hundred foot tall people-eating monster, writing a Western is not just a new hill or a new mountain, it’s a new continent. It’s a new world. And what explorer doesn’t want to visit a new world?
So, that’s where I am at. Where are you at?
See you out there!