Friday, April 6, 2012

Looking Out for Number One... or Is That Number Two? Writing for Yourself or For the Fans?

So, you've got a hankering to write a hard sci-fi or a classic whodunit, but your fans are clamoring for more super-heroes or demon-witches turned romantic spies. Hence this week's questions for the roundtable.

Providing we're not otherwise contractually obligated for a certain book or series, as creators, how much do we try and placate our fans, even when we would rather be writing something else?

To whom do we owe our primarily devotion, our drives as writers or our fans? Do we do what we want to do, put our own preferences as creators first?

Matt Adams: Writers owe it to themselves to write what makes them happy. Otherwise, what's the point? Why slog through a story you have no passion for? My first book is a superhero novel, setting me up as the "superhero guy" whether I like it or not. I love the genre and will embrace that. Every book I write, though, does not involve superheroes. My novels span several different genres (really, science fictional subgenres): space opera, high-concept sci-fi, sports sci-fi, fantasy.

Right now, I can afford to do that because I'm a newbie author. If I make any money at this point in my writing career, it's a bonus. I'm not doing it for a living. My answer would likely be different if I had to sell books for my livelihood. Then, I'd have to gauge what my fans wanted. If they overwhelmingly cried out for another superhero book, I'd write it, but I'd also work on that paranormal romance idea I was jazzed about writing. In related news, if I have an idea for a paranormal romance book, please discourage me from writing it. I don't think I have a knack for the genre.

Patrick Tomlinson: My primary devotion is to my rent, car payment, and disposable income to dispose of upon young women.

David Boop: I write what I'm inspired to write, never to the fans of a specific genre. The fact that I write what some people want to read is a blessing.

John Morgan Neal: One of the reasons I created Aym Geronimo the way I did was so that I could tell all kinds of stories. Sci-fi, adventure, action, mystery, horror etc etc. My other properties were horror/adventure (Rex Solomon), western (Gone to Texas/Death and Texas), and Sci Fi heroes (THEM: Atomic Age Heroes). So I tend to do what I want. Now if someone were to give me gobs of money...

Ed Crandell: I write for me. The fans are just along for the ride. ;]

John Hartness: I tend to write multiple projects at once. So one thing I'm working on is for a deadline or the fans, and another thing is something new that I want to play around with. Like this week I've done half my time on the new Black Knight novel, because it's on deadline, and half the time on a redneck steampunk short that I wanted to write.

Mark Bousquet: I went through this a couple years back. More people seemed to like my first novel, Dreamer's Syndrome (a contemporary fantasy) than my second, Adventures of the Five (a kid's book), though I liked the second novel much more. I got a more enthusiastic response about Five, but a larger overall respnse about Dreamer's. So I did the only logical thing - I wrote something completely different for novel #3.  So I guess the answer is that I don't write specifically for the fans but I'm certainly not blind to their likes and wants, either. Knowing that there are people out there who want more adventures with my characters can help me through the slow times.

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For more information: Patrick Tomlinson, David Boop, John Neal, Ed Crandell, John Hartness, Mark Bousquet