Writing Advice for the New Year

Complaining about pop culture? Is that you?

Many people can't watch television or a movie without complaining about the pop culture of today's world. These people see nothing of value in today's music, novels, art, and other aspects of contemporary culture. They can't seem to find value or appeal in any form of entertainment.

And yet, many of these same people write books!

What's Wrong With This Picture

Yes. They write books and complain loudly about other writers who produce "inferior" books that sell like the often-mentioned hotcakes. The complainers have nothing good to say about contemporary entertainment, and they're stunned because their own books don't sell well.

I think those complainers need to face a truth that seems to have escaped them: they live today, not in the retro 1950's or the counter-culture 1960's or the disco 70's or whatever decade they thought was relevant.

Write For Today, Not Yesteryear

If you live in today's world, which you do unless you have a time machine stashed in the garage, then you must write for the time in which you live. It doesn't matter if your writing is as exquisite as Bronte or Austen or Dickens or whatever brilliant writer you may admire if the time in which you live doesn't support writing of that style, plot, or voice.

If you want to be a professional writer, write for today's readers. That doesn't mean to dumb it down, but it does mean to not be intellectually snobbish and disdain the average reader.

If you're not selling the way you want to be selling, don't disdain the books--and their authors--that do sell. Don't dismiss them out of hand. Instead, read the best-selling books in your genre. See what it is about those books that make readers eager to grab them. Compare your books--plot, premise, characters, tone, voice, execution--and see what the other authors bring to the table that you don't.

Takeaway Truth

Open your mind. Observe. Analyze. Be willing to try something new. Take action. That's a sure-fire formula for improving. And for living with a sense of optimism.

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