Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pact With My Readers

That's a pretty brave title for an (as yet) unpublished author, but it occur ed to me as I was reading yet another book stamped from the "they're all starting to sound the same" mold, that I would never want to do that to my readers. In fact, there are several things I'd never want to do, so here's my pact with my (okay, okay...future) readers.

#1 Each of my novels will be a very different story. It may be the same genre, the same general setting (space, other planets, the future) but the characters won't go through the same motions and do the same things in the same ships with different names.

#2 If my hero is a bad boy space pirate, then he's going to BE a bad boy space pirate and not a boy next door with tattoos and an eye patch. If he's/she's done terrible things in the past, he's going to have paid a price in guilt and remorse and public outrage and scars and stitches, and he's going to have to really work to overcome that.

#3 I don't believe in space pirates. Run-amok salvagers maybe. I have this issue with taking old ideas and putting them in a futuristic novel. pirates, cowboys, knights, etc. Also no sorcerers or dwarfs or elves. (See #6.) That doesn't mean I may not put a new spin on these icons, but that's the operative word. New.

#4 My hero and/or my heroine will be real people who fear, get angry and show frustration. They won't be perfect. They won't be anything close to perfect. In fact, they'll be flawed and driven and angsty and somehow noble because they do fear and get angry and show frustration. And because they care about being alive.

#5 My villains won't act like stereotypes. Every villain is a person with something human about them, with dreams, goals, ambitions. It's how they achieve their ends that makes them the villain. So none of those Snidely Whiplash handlebar-moustache types with a sinister laugh and a black hat that says "VILLAIN" with a big, flashing neon signs and pointing arrows. Aren't the bad guys much more interesting when they carry the subtle evil of someone who thinks they're doing the right thing?

#6 I do slipstream, but I don't do cross-genre. You want werewolves and vampires? Go read a fantasy. It's a big universe out there and I'm sure I can come up with something lightyears more original than another tired old vampire or werewolf. That's not to say other writers can't write fascinating stories that contain them, it's just not what I want in my science fiction romance universe(s). Ghosts, well that's a different story.

#7 I'll listen to what my readers say. If they are saying "I'd really love to read a sequel to that." I won't say, "Sorry, I don't have a contract for a second book." I'll say, "Let me write something for you that you're going to love as much as the first."

#8 I will never write X number of books a year. My books percolate over time and I write them in layers. I can't kick one out by a specified deadline. I can't even tell you when I expect it will be done. Creativity doesn't work that way. At least, mine doesn't. I'll write them until they're finished, and hopefully, you'll never get a rushed, half-baked disappointment because of it. Deadlines kill (muses). As I develop my craft, I hope writing faster and smarter becomes one of my talents so I can keep the deal I made in #7.

#9...I haven't come up with a #9 yet. This pact, like my current novel, is still a work in progress.

Stay tuned.


  1. Interesting list, Laurie. I had a more in-depth comment, but can't remember it right now... :S

    I shall be back maybe mon when I have a brain. :P

  2. Thanks Merc. Yes, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    ( I should be worried?) :)


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