Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's An Author To Do?

Currently Reading: Thoroughly enjoyed Elaine Cantrell's The Best New Toy of the Season! wanna hear a story? I've got a good one.

It starts with a woman who is surprised by her instant attraction to a man, and who against her better judgement, goes off with him for the best sex of her life.

For his part, somewhere during the slaking of his lust, he discovers he's feeling a different emotion, and could this woman he's chosen be his predestined mate?

They declare their love for each other the next day and vow to live happily ever after.

What? You've already read this? Or even....already written it?

Congratulations! You're one step closer to publication!

There's been a lot of talk lately about writing to market, writing 'formula' books, or should authors write what's burning in their fingertips? Most of the advice follows 'write what you know'. But there's a catch.

When I first began writing, the 'formula' was boy meets girl/boy gets girl/boy loses girl/they make up and live happily ever after. I didn't want to write 'formula', so I wrote the book I wanted to read. But nothing happened.

So the next thing I wrote followed the first premise. But instead of stopping at the end of 'I love you', I took it a little further. I threw in a sub-plot about a problem in the woman's past and why it affects the choices she makes.

My second follows the formula loosely, in that the danger stems not from the fear of losing her heart, but her job. And my 3rd one asks the question, what would you do if you came into contact with your ex-lover three years later and discovered the reasom for the breakup was someone else's manipulations?

Yes, the formula works. And so does the mainstream formula. But doesn't that get boring after a while, when you can pretty much predict which chapter/page everything happens?

Here's what I propose for new authors: Write the formula book; get your foot in the door. Then you can submit those stories close to your heart.

Kenny Chesney proved it could be done in his career. His songs weren't selling, so he wrote and recorded the cheesy 'She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy', and it made him a star! he's established, he's recording and selling the songs he wanted to perform.

See there? Sometimes conformity works.

But sometimes, you get lucky and that offbeat, fresh story also grabs an editor's attention. So submit your original idea first. If that doesn't work, go with the formula. Once you're published, you can submit your others.

So What's A Struggling Author To Do?
We had this dicussion last night at our weekly Laptop Society. One of our members recently returned from LA, where he's been meeting with producers concerning a script he's co-writing. On one hand, he thinks the ideas his friend has is so out there, it's impossible to comprehend anyone taking it seriously. On the other hand, at the second meeting, the producer is now talking series TV, not a movie, and wants him to break the script into thirteen, sixty page scripts, and oh, by the way, we already have actors who want to be a part of this.

Instead of being thrilled, my friend is torn. They're offering him a lot of money to do this, but it would mean moving out there for a year, and putting his own career on hold. He doesn't see himself being able to devote time for his own novel writing, and worse, not seeing his child for months. He feels as if he would be 'selling his soul/selling out' if he accepts the money for this 'insane project', and would he even want his name attached to this, since he can't believe Hollywood is even considering this? He went into the second meeting, fully expecting the alcohol from the night before having worn off, and to be told, 'Thank you very much, but I'm sorry'.

And then I whipped out my notebook and showed him the blog post I had written earlier in the day. While he agrees with me, he does have other circumstances which need to be considered.

So what would YOU do? Take the money, put your life on 'hold' for a project you don't believe in, but will get your foot in the door? Or listen to your gut and turn it down?

I'm off for a couple of days to play in an indoor water park with my kids, get my hair done, do a little self-promotion, and try to recover my files from my old hard drive. I don't know if I'll post or not; depends on if the motel has free internet, or if I'll have access to my mom's desktop.

Play nicely while I'm gone?


Phoenix said...

Torn huh? I'd sign on the dotted line and thank God he sent work my way. Write the movie script some other time. Sounds like it's a complete story to itself anyway.

Gonna be offline for a week. Happy spring break Molly, wish I could swing by.

Molly Daniels said...

That IS the movie script; only now it's no longer a movie, it's a TV series.

Yeah, I'd sign on the dotted line too, but this is a guy who came home early because he missed his daughter too much.

A year away from my kids? I'd have it built into the contract they pay for a plane ticket home once a month.

Regina Carlysle said...

I can be HAD. I would sign in a heartbeat and not think twice. The other details can always be worked out. And YES, I've written the same basic plot many times. With variations, of course. There are no original stories out there, only the authors TAKE on those stories.

Sandra Cox said...

It would be hard to walk away from a movie series......
Have fun!