Sunday, May 13, 2018

[Link] The Eternal Question: What Should I Write?

by Chuck Wendig

One of the questions I get most frequently over email is this:

What should I write?

The question presumably meaning, what kind of thing should I write? What genre? What story? Maybe it’s the first thing you’re ever going to write. Maybe it’s just the next thing in a long line of written things.

And the answer to this question is simple.

That answer is:

How the fuck should I know?

I mean, I’m not you. At least, not until I get my SOUL TRANSPLANT HELMET working, but that’s at least five years off — maybe seven if Elon doesn’t call me back (seriously, Elon, get your shit together, gimme a ring, Musk). Because I am (presently) not you, I have no idea what you should write. Because the advice of what to write is not a thing that has an easy answer — or, really, any answer. You want the answer to be something concrete, something that is the result of plugging variables in and punching the CALCULATE STORY button, but no such thing exists. You can’t “run the numbers” and end up with the perfect answer (“Ah! I should write — let’s see, mumble mumble, carry the three, put the DNA on the slide, shake the shoebox with the cat inside of it, et voila — I should write The Terminator meets The Gilmore Girls as if written by Mary Shelley. Bestseller status, here I come.”)

It doesn’t work like that.

But what I can do is tell you how I come to terms with what I should write next. Because this isn’t a question just some writers have — it’s a question that plagues us all, I think. It plagues us at the start. It plagues us throughout our career. It plagues n00bs, midlisters, even bestsellers. It plagues traditionally-published authors and indie authors. It is a question I ask myself even as I’m writing one thing because I always need to know what’s next? And what’s next after that? If this book is successful, what else can I write in that vein? If it tanks, how do I move to an adjacent track that still makes sense? Where am I? Why am I wearing pants? Is this a curse? Did I spit in the Pants God’s eye? WHY HAS THOU FORSAKEN ME, OH PANTSLESS PANTHEON

Ahem, sorry.

Here is what I do to determine what I’m gonna write next.

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