|Have you stamped your pages with your passion?|
There are two ways to write a book. One, you can think about the kind of story you would love to read and then write it, or two, you can try to figure out what you think the public wants, and write that. Now, I know that there are writers out there who use the latter strategy and I’m sure they’ve done fine with it, but following your passion is a lot more fun (and in the long run, probably more lucrative)!
Once in a while people ask me what kinds of stories I write, and I can tell they’re waiting for me to say I’m working on the Great American Novel – something Steinbeck or Faulker or DeLillo. I have to tell you the truth. I don’t even feel a little bit bad telling them that I wouldn’t write the Great American Novel if I could. You know why? Because it’s not my passion.
I got an English degree in college, so I spent a lot of time reading great works of literature, but they aren’t what got me really excited. Which is not to say there is anything wrong with them, or with loving them. They just weren’t my proverbial cup of tea. I was off drooling over Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (this was back before vampires were cool), Stephen King’s The Shining (still an all-time favorite book), and wishing I had as many cool ideas as Phillip K. Dick had in his left thumb. These days I’m also loving all the great urban fantasy stories steaming up the endcaps in bookstores everywhere.
I’m the same way with movies and TV. I love the big-budget blockbusters like Aliens and Gladiator and Inception. So that’s the kind of story I aspire to write.
So what’s your passion? Maybe you're like me, and you aspire to be a "hack" half as good as Stephen King, or maybe your passion is literature in a YA paranormal market. (Or maybe you're really lucky and your passion matches the market right now!) Regardless, if you’re not chomping-at-the-bit excited about your characters and your story and the world you’ve created, you need to step back and figure out what you really love, and why you aren’t feeling it in this particular story. One way to identify what you’re passionate about in fiction is to list your favorite books and movies. What do they have in common? Are those things finding their way into your stories?
Sometimes people get excited about a particular type of fiction, but they’re afraid they won’t be able to pull it off. I understand that feeling. I was the kid that saved the best pictures in the coloring book for later, when I was better at coloring. And then one day I realized that life is not about doing everything perfectly – it’s about doing it passionately! It’s about daring to try what matters most, and figuring you’ll learn important lessons from your mistakes along the way.
So how about you? How do you put your passions into your stories?