There’s this thing in indie publishing circles that’s kind of a hot subject, and that is writing to market. The idea, basically, is to write what readers want to read. Sounds pretty simple, if you’re an author that wants to buy groceries and pay rent and whatnot. I mean, it makes sense, right?
Well, it gets a little bit more complicated than that once you start getting deeper into it, and some people start arguing that writing to market is gross commercialism and selling out and all that. And then there are other folks who are pointing at popular authors saying ‘see? It works! Give people what they want to read!’ and it all often devolves from there, as things are wont to do on the internet.
And then there are those of us that don’t really want to go hardcore either way– I love my readers and want anyone who reads my work to enjoy it, but I started publishing because I couldn’t find quite what I wanted to read. So… what that means really, is that I want to know what the common themes and tropes are in my genre so I can know which ones are what I’m looking for in a story and which ones make me insane. And that’s kind of the problem.
You might have noticed that I kinda like to read? >_>
It’s partly because I like finding a good, fun, stress-free place in the world. (Hint: the news isn’t it.) So, when I read, if it’s a good book, my active mind turns off. So I’m enjoying the story, not analyzing it like I’m in ninth grade English.
Nothing ruins the fun of a good book quite like high school English classes.
If I have to keep my brain active enough to think ‘this is a plot point, I should take note of that, and be aware of what the characters are doing and thinking’ then I am kicked fully out of the story. I might as well be reading the driver’s ed manual, or Hamlet for the five hundredth time (oh, the perils of a theatre degree.) Either way, I’m no longer enjoying a good urban fantasy adventure.
How is that a fun thing to do to a book?
The obvious option is to read it through once for fun, and then if I enjoy it enough, go back through it and find the tropes and beats and analyze the structure. But… (you know there was a ‘but’) that feels an awful lot like homework again.
I just finished Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews, for example, and it was amazing. I stayed up way too late over the weekend to finish it and it was worth every sleepy minute I struggled through the next day. If you haven’t read this, you probably should.
Since I finished it, though, I’ve been playing with the idea of going through it again and taking notes on the major tropes and plot points, and… I can’t bring myself to pick it up again to do that. Because that would suck all the magic out of it for me.
And sucking the magic out of a story seems like the worst sin of all.