Sbr Martin's Blog - Posts Tagged "genre"

Wondering what genre my writing falls into? Me too!

Read this post to see some of the classification issues a writer faces when listing her work.

http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com...

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Repost:

What the Hell Did I Just Write?

Juggling Genres in the Modern Market

I had a little extra cash in my pocket the other day, so I stopped at a used bookstore to search for a few titles I’ve been meaning to read for some time. First on my list was “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig.

Tiny wire basket in hand, I waltzed over to the Psychology section, where I found everything but Zen. So I moved on to Metaphysics, where my crisis was not resolved. I turned to the Self-Help section. No help there! The plot continued to thicken in the Fiction/Literature aisles.As a last resort, I decided to look in the Eastern Studies section. Lo and Behold, there sat a tattered copy of Pirsig’s acclaimed work! I’d found it at last. The hunt was over, and I was relieved.

Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself and shake my head in a gesture caught somewhere between disbelief and defeat. I’ve never read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but even I knew that it was no more about “Zen” than it was about “Motorcycle Maintenance.”

Obviously, a quick-handed agent of the bibliopole had improperly shelved the book based on a cursory glimpse of the title alone.

Next on my list was “Son of a Witch,” Gregory Maguire’s follow-up to his novel-made-musical, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” I scanned the Fiction/Literature section of the store, since, without question, Maguire’s work has already risen to more than pulp status.

Not surprised to not find it there, I eyed the Paperback Fiction section, in case someone didn’t hold Maguire in as high esteem as did I. Greggy-boy wasn’t there; nor was he in the Witchcraft section, where I thought the same quick-handed agent might have mistakenly filed him away.I eventually found “Son of a Witch” in the Mythology/Folklore section, along with the other books in Maguire’s “Wicked” series. Mythology/Folklore? Really?!?

I’d had enough. I was mentally exhausted by the entire ordeal. I ended my search in the physical world, deciding to purchase what books I had in hand and search for the others online. Driving home from the bookstore, I was fuming mad. Was there something wrong with that God-forsaken, over-glorified bookrack? Worse yet, was there something wrong with me? Had they put certain books in the wrong sections, or had I looked in the wrong sections for certain books? Was this laziness or miseducation on what categorizes what?

And this wasn’t the first time I’d contemplated the complexities of classification. I’d thought over them only a couple months earlier—not as a reader of books, but as the writer of my most recent release, “pig.”

"Pig" is the story of Lily, a woman holding on to too much pain and too many secrets, including a big secret she's keeping from herself. The entire novel takes place at her husband's funeral, where she sits alone on a couch in the corner, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal.

The narrative comes from Lily's memories, as stirred by the familiar faces of funeral home patrons. Domestic abuse, graphic sex, and devastating loss are but a few of the past events reawakened by Lily's reflections—as are love, mothering, and redemption.

“Pig” taunts its reader with psychological suspense, leaving him turning e-page after e-page to find out how Lily’s husband got in that box, what she’s holding in her hand, and, ultimately, what it takes for a troubled woman to finally let go. Stepping into Lily's past to answer the present questions, the reader is taken on a rollercoaster ride of plot twists and narrative turns where he is shaken, unsettled, and reminded that some stories just aren't meant to have happy endings.

So… what kind of book does this sound like to you? Of course, I hope you’ll say it sounds like a good book, but we both know that’s not what I mean. What I’m asking is: How would you classify this book into an existing genre?

Our friends at the used bookseller would, I assume, have an easy time with this one. Unless they tossed it into the Agriculture section because the title is “pig,” they’d likely place it in the Fiction New Releases portion of the store when it first came out, maybe amidst the Paperback Fiction collection if it had a soft spine.

I’d love for it to be shelved in the Fiction/Literature stacks, as it definitely is Fiction and I can only hope that it is one day regarded as true Literature.

But the mere placement of my book on a physical shelf was not the issue I faced some months ago, and not just because my book is currently available exclusively in digital format. The issue I faced was tossing it alongside other reads on a digital shelf. I wondered: Into which of the dozens of existing genres should I classify my work?

My question was only further confounded by certain facts: (1) any business-minded person knows that cross-categorizing a product increases its exposure, in turn, optimizing sales; and, (2) Amazon gives you the option of listing your book in as many as three different categories.

Three! One would think it would be easier to place a work into three categories than to place it into one. But it’s not.

Amazon’s Literature & Fiction tab seemed to be an obvious choice for my novel, though that one choice burdened me to make other choices. On the site, there are 20 subgenres listed under the Literature & Fiction genre, some of which continue to splinter off into sub-subgenres and the suchlike.

The Mystery, Thriller & Suspense tab may seem unintimidating at first, as it has only four second-tier subgenres. But don’t be fooled—those four spider-web out, out, and out some more.

Between these two top-level genres, there were quite a few subcategories into which I could have placed “pig,” and a couple more above them that would’ve worked too. But there was, and is, no one, two, or three that fit my title to a T.

Psychological Thriller. Suspense. Tales of Intrigue. These are subgenres that also describe the thoughts that raced through my head when listing my book.

There’s a little Romance in “pig,” some Gay & Lesbian themes, perhaps a little Erotica in the right light. The protagonist is a female who suffers and finds salvation in her own way—this is the stuff of Women’s Fiction, no?

The boozing, violence, and crime could cast it as an Urban Life yarn, while the matters of marriage and motherhood could make it a Family Saga. It ain’t what the Greeks would consider a Tragedy, though it’s pretty damn tragic at times—maybe Drama would be a good match?

It’s set in Pittsburgh, PA, and there are references to Las Vegas. I could label it United States, right? I can’t call it British, since the English accent of a main character is faked, which is kinda funny if you think about it. Is this enough to make it a Humor tome?

I’m sure you get my point by now. Even for we who create what is read, the task of genre selection is an arduous one, made even more daunting by the fact that where we place our books determines who sees, reads, and embraces them.

I understand that Amazon’s genre breakdown is designed to make the shopping experience easier for consumers, but the leveling structure is somewhat complex and makes it easiest only for the reader who already has a very clear picture of what she wants to find.

To make matters worse, we must remember that Amazon, albeit the biggest commercial vendor in the universe, is not the only site or system out there that categorizes writers’ works. Shifts and changes in the literary world are creating new genres and subgenres at an alarming pace, resulting in a mass market with no uniform system of classifying the written word.

Not that a uniform system would help all that much anyway, considering the quick hands of the bookstore employee mentioned above, and, considering the fact that I may think my book is an apple while my reader very much considers it an orange.

Ah yes, the readers! How could I market my book to catch the most readers and/or get the most reviews? I don’t want anyone inadvertently being repelled by, or even attracted to, my writing because it was mislabeled along an already blurred line.

If I list this book as Erotica, would conservatives give it a cold shoulder? Would I lose male readers if I tag it Women’s Fiction? Are folks blistering on the Bible Belt gonna run for the hills if I brand it Gay & Lesbian?

This reviewer reads only Romance, and that fellow won’t look at anything but Genre Fiction. Ms. So-and-So likes Dystopia, whatever that is. A famous Harvard professor has a one-palate taste for “Contemporary Fiction,” but isn’t anything that’s written today “contemporary” by definition? Whom, if any, of these reviewers should I query? And what should I put in, or leave out of, my pitch?

Should I even care about any of this jazz?

Well, if I want my book to sell, I’m gonna have to. There’s no other way, really. I have to call it something, even if there was never any something I intended it to be called.

When I sit down to write, I have only one goal: to write a good book. My style of writing is marked by the fusion of traditional, as well as new, genres. Without following any recipe(s), I take a little of this and a little of that to create an unforgettable read. I don’t avoid things like adult content for fear of rejection. I don’t add a character or plot element just to make my work qualify as A, B, or C.

So, as I write with no particular genre in mind, it’s not too big a shock that a particular genre is hard for me to find. Nonetheless, juggling genres has become a personal pet peeve. For very practical reasons, I still find myself second-guessing the genres I eventually selected and asking my self, “What the Hell Did I Just Write?”

Think you can answer that one? Take a gander at “pig” and let me know what you think.

“Pig” is available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0....

For a daily slice of “pig,” visit http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig.

Video Teaser-Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWkHow....

Also by sbr martin: “in wake of water,” available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater.

Check out sbr martin’s Goodreads author profile for blog updates, reviews, giveaways, and other cool stuff—http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin.

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Keep an eye on Donna's blog - she'll be reviewing "pig" at a later date.
It's Friday the 13th! Of what are you scared? Check out my guest post on Cynthia Shepp's wordpress, where I compare supernatural villains to more natural ones. It's also part tribute to one of my favorite authors, Anne Rice.

http://cynthiashepp.wordpress.com/201...

There's a giveaway attached to the post - so read the whole thing and follow the rules for your chance to win!

Please take the time to explore Cynthia's site. Book reviews, author interviews, and editing services to boot - she's a busy gal who knows how to get the job done with tons of style and grace.

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Repost:

A Friday the 13th Tribute to Mother Rice

How Vampire Fiction Influenced My Writing on Human Nature

I was first ensnared by vampires in 1994 when, like nearly every other lovelorn teenage girl in the world, I ran to the theater to see blonde beauty Brad Pitt star alongside top gun Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. The film was moving—deep and disturbing, yet inviting. It made me want to be a vampire a little bit, and not just so that I could keep company with two of Hollywood’s hottest hunks.

Since I was about 12 years old, I’ve been one of those people who is deathly afraid of death. To this day, I still have severe panic attacks when I attempt to contemplate the unknown. It’s always been an immobilizing fear that’s more than taken my breath away. So the idea of immortality seemed like a good thing to me. To live forever, to never die or face the unknown, if, that is, one actually faces anything after death—this seemed like a ticket I wanted to buy.

I overlooked a vital component of Interview though. I wasn’t able to see the suffering in Pitt’s pale eyes. All I could see was the promise of something more that his character’s eternal life offered. It wasn’t until two years later, when I decided to read the book on which the movie was based, that I caught a glimpse of the immortal’s inner struggle and turmoil.

A friend gave me a copy of Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” which I read in less than two days. In no time, I was off to the store to pick up the second installment in Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, followed by the third, the fourth, and the fifth.

Fortunately for me, I caught word of Rice’s work around the same time that she was coming out with additional books in the Vampire Chronicles and developing another bloodsucker saga, the New Tales of the Vampires. For the next few years, I spent a lot of time with my nose buried deep in any one of Rice’s books, reading, rereading, referencing, and reviewing. I’d say I was hooked, but that’s definitely an understatement.

In Rice’s volumes, I discovered something I’d never known before. The Vampire Chronicles were the first books I ever read for leisure’s sake, rather than as an academic assignment. Rice’s prose was more vivid, more alive, than anything I’d ever read in the classroom. The storylines were rich with flashbacks and side-stories so elaborate, so fascinating, that my jaw dropped several dozen times (per book).

What stood out to me most were Rice’s characters, the depth with which she explored them and the lengths to which she developed them. By far, they were the most intensely real and unquestionably human characters I’d ever encountered.

Keep in mind, however, that they weren’t actually human characters for the vast majority of pages. They were vampires.

But before they were vampires, yes, they were humans. And that humanness, that abstract idea of humanity, did not, for the most part, die when certain characters crossed over; if anything it was merely chilled to an icy cross between distraction and desperation.

The crux of my own mortal crisis was put before me via these beguiling beings. I saw in them a personification of my own greatest fears, and learned that perhaps I’d feared the wrong things.

By the time I was done with “The Vampire Lestat,” I’d already seen more than enough evidence that immortality wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The promise was not a promise, but a curse. The remaining novels in the series went on to prove just that.

The sadness that some of Rice’s characters bled—oh, the sadness! There is no beauty in an immortal life, nor even any life as life implies an end. Sinking but never reaching bottom, falling but never landing, the vampire is burdened to linger in an unceasing decline as all the world around him changes and decays. The deaths of human allies, the troubles of mankind, and disassociation from nature—war, disease, disaster—to these things the vampire bears eternal witness.

So it was that I learned not so much to fear death as to fear life, to fear all the things that one is tasked to tackle during her time on this planet, whether in a finite or infinite frame. This is not to say that Rice’s work made me afraid to live. Not at all. Indeed, it made me want to live as much as I can before my time comes.

Her references to art and music, to history and culture, to sensation and perception, remind me that this life is a mixed bag. For all the darkness one must face, so too there is light.

And I needed to be reminded of that light, and recall familiar characters to whom I could relate, when my own life’s story began to unfold. Losing my mom, my only sibling, my father, and my grandmother within seven very short years, I felt like Louis, Lestat, and a handful of my other favorite characters. I was alone, neglected, forgotten. Forsaken, perhaps. The immortality I once craved would not remedy this. It’d only make it much, much worse.

Rice’s words helped me grow, from a teen to a woman, from a happy-go-lucky idealist to an open-minded realist, and from a reader to a writer. They allowed me to take a look at the human experience, as enlivened by nonhumans, and ground my perspective as an individual and a creator.

When I began writing novels, I couldn’t help but write according to how I read. It became my goal to see the complex plots, realistic characters, dramatic story-telling, and cross-genre style of Mother Rice’s work reflected in my own fiction.

Note that the stories I write are not Horror, at least not in any traditional sense. There are absolutely no paranormal, other-than-natural elements in my work. I write about people, human beings, some of whom are far more monstrous than any preternatural inhabitant of Rice’s literary world.

Through the Vampire Chronicles, I was able to hone my understanding of what does and does not constitute a real “monster.” Lore and legend, along with pop culture notions, would have us believe that vampires are dirty, rotten beasts of prey. Evil. No good. Mean-spirited, depraved, inclined to do only harm.

This is not the typical Rice vampire. Rice vampires border on being tragic heroes, for whom the reader cannot help but feel empathy and compassion. These characters are troubled creatures. They simply are not monsters.

But some of my human characters are. Dirty, rotten beasts of prey. Evil. No good. Mean-spirited, depraved, inclined to do only harm. Yeah. These words are better suited for my characters than for Rice’s.

Take, for example, Bender, the male antagonist in my most recent release, “pig.” He’s not a very nice guy. He beats his wife, calls her despicable names, and makes her live under his thumb. He drinks too much, shoves chewing tobacco in his mouth every chance he gets, and is generally pissed off because he never found fame.

Let’s look at Louis now—the vampire who was interviewed in the first title of Rice’s series. Louis didn’t too much like the idea of killing humans for blood, so he’d drink from rats when he had the chance. With limited exception, he never wanted to pass his Dark Gift on to others, because he didn’t want another to suffer as he’d done for centuries without end.

Louis could deliver a world of hurt if he wanted to. But he doesn’t want to. Now, Bender, on the other hand, he’s lookin’ to give far more pain than he’s willing to receive. Louis’ immortal existence brought suffering and torture mainly to Louis himself, while it was others who suffered and were tortured during Bender’s mortal stint. So who’s the loathsome swine here?

This post is live online as of Friday, July 13, 2012. That’s right—Friday the 13th. It’s a day we think of Jason Voorhees, the undead, and other things that go “Boo!” But these aren’t the scariest things in this world.

We are.

We, the humans, must endure a human condition not unlike the inescapable humanness and humanity embodied in the plights of the vampires in Rice’s series. Life, loss, death, upheaval, decline, and lots of other scary shit goes on around us, unstoppable forces eroding our very existence as if we stood as timeless pillars on a plane of perpetual fast motion.

We, the humans, have in our genetic code a primal disposition toward the gruesome, an uncanny ability to turn human circumstances into inhumane situations. Abuse, adultery, alcoholism, asshole-ism run rampant on this planet. We are the victims and the aggressors of the most heinous acts imaginable.

A scorned wife cuts off her cheating husband’s penis. A militant extremist storms into a youth camp and opens fire. Shoe bombs on airplanes and child molesters next door. You name it. The world of supernatural fiction suddenly seems so much more appealing. It’s easier to assign such base emotions and actions to something that is not human or living. We don’t want to confront the realities we are capable of, or have already committed, so we look for a scapegoat, something nonhuman to absorb our more prurient human inclinations.

Vlad Tepes had a penchant for impaling his captives on wooden stakes and is rumored to have feasted on their remains. Countess Elizabeth Bathory liked to take nice warm baths in the blood of young virgins. History has noted these blood-lusters, and they were human. But talking about Dracula as a fictitious supernatural character, rather than as none other than Vlad Tepes, heir to the Dracul reign, allows us to think that we humans are better than we really are.

Just as blind faith has been argued as an opiate for the masses, so too can be unyielding interest in the preternatural. We need something to dilute the truth and shade us from the inevitable, the unsavory, and the unknown. Immortality quashes the quandary of an afterlife. Nonhuman monsters allow us to sidestep human accountability, while simultaneously engorging the ever-present imp of our universal perverse.

But what of the fictitious bad guys like my Bender?

Writing him does the same thing that writing a vampire does, by putting real fears into fiction. But it does something else as well—or, rather, doesn’t do something else.

It doesn’t allow the reader to shift focus away from human instinct and incident. It tells the reader that shit happens, and that it happens because of people just like you and just like me. People. A man whose artistic ambitions failed, who is unhappy in his marriage, who looks at sex as a disgraceful and distasteful act is capable of cruel things. And his battered wife is capable of murder.

Have you ever cheated on a significant other? Ever slapped or hit a loved one? Ever wished somebody dead or called them a foul name? If you did these things, how’d you feel afterwards? I’m guessing you probably felt bad. Maybe you felt a little freakish, kinda like a monster.

And if you felt that way, if you did these things or merely contemplated them, guess what: You’re not alone. You’re one of millions upon millions of other likeminded people, though you’ll find only a small fraction willing to admit to these primitive impulses.

You can step into my fiction to confront those parts of yourself that are human, that you don’t necessarily like. Find a character to relate to—a victim or a perpetrator—and hunker down with human nature. See real life threads mimicked and woven into fictitious elaborations. Embrace what you are, what you were, and what you never want to be. Hide from yourself no longer.

In closing, I feel the need to issue a disclaimer. I love me a good vampire novel! The first half of this post should show just how much I’ve been influenced and affected by the work of the mother of all vampire yarns, the Queen of the Damned herself, Anne Rice. So don’t think for one second that I’m dismissing the subgenre. We need these types of stories to function as a society. Alls I’m sayin’ is that we need my brand too.

Wanna meet my monsters? Find “pig” on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0... and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig.

Video Teaser-Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWkHow....

Also by sbr martin: “in wake of water,” available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater.

Check out sbr martin’s Goodreads author profile for blog updates, reviews, giveaways, and other cool stuff—http://www.goodreads.com/sbrmartin.

Read it. Live it. Love it. sbr.

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Today, my blog tour lands me at the cyber-home of author J. Dane Tyler, where I expounded on my own writing history and process.

Check it out at http://jdanetyler.wordpress.com/2012/...

Just like me, JDT has some mighty cool initials! But that's just gravy. Take a look at his blog and you'll quickly discover that he's more than just a cool name - he's a name to know.

His site features a "Short Stories" section that'll keep your jaw dropping for hours. And, once you're done exploring his free content, don't be surprised if you find yourself on Amazon purchasing his books, which are only $2.99 a pop (http://www.amazon.com/J.-Dane-Tyler/e...).

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Repost:

Writing as a Reader: My Novel Approach to the Novel

I have been fortunate enough to study under the greats when it comes to literature and the art of writing fiction. Chuck Palahniuk schooled me on plot twists and the intentional consequences of inserting highly technical medical jargon into otherwise smooth text. Anne Rice educated me on the finer points of character depth and development.

The idea that one character can be both a protagonist and an antagonist at the same time was taught to me by John C. Gardner, as well as by Gregory Maguire. From Mr. William Faulkner, I learned how to further broaden a narrative’s “God” perspective. William Shakespeare, Jean Racine, and Nathaniel Hawthorne were but a few of my other instructors, joined by nonfiction scholars such as Sigmund Freud, Bruno Bettelheim, and Howard Zinn.

Needless to say, though I’ll say it anyway, it was not directly under these greats that I studied. Practical considerations such as time and geography aside, I can’t even begin to fathom the tuition cost of a fabled institution that had all these famed artists on staff!

Every writer is first and foremost a reader, and I am no exception. It was through my academic and personal studies that I discovered and dissected my own writing curriculum. By reading the works of others—from the backs of cereal boxes to the most brilliant works of fiction—I learned invaluable lessons that have influenced the ways I live, learn, and write.

That said, I have had no formal, official, or university-approved training in my art. In college, I took only those writing courses required for graduation and the completion of my psychology major.

I am what some would call a self-taught writer/author. But what beauty I now create came from once-upon-a-time rocky soil. Writing was not always my strong point.

When I started high school at The Ellis School in 1992, my first English assignment was to write a critical analysis of Beowulf. After working at my typewriter for hours, I submitted a paper I thought was pretty damn good. My teacher, however, did not agree.

When the paper was handed back a week later, it was returned without a grade. The words “See me” appeared in the front page margin. What I had considered damn good was, in fact, a crude and poorly-written book report that lacked analysis and sentence variety.

Rather than conceding to my inadequacy, I confronted it, determined to equip myself with stronger skills. Though I embraced help from my high school teachers and a faculty tutor, I placed the brunt of the burden on myself. The scholastic guidance I received was but the first step in a long process that lead to my proactive adventure with the English language and my own understanding of the elements of artful and effective writing.

I honed these self-taught skills and put them to use in my undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving stellar marks in courses requiring essay work.

It was in my junior year that I again met a familiar situation. After working at my laptop for hours, I submitted a psychology paper I thought was pretty damn good. When the paper was handed back a week later, it was returned without a grade. “See me” appeared in the front page margin.

What I considered damn good was, in fact, so damn good that my instructor questioned whether I had actually written it and dismissively accused me of plagiarism, requiring me to defend myself in front of the head of the Psychology Department before penal action was taken.

Armed with samples of my writing submitted to other professors, I met with the department head, who thoroughly reviewed my work before tabling the claim and calling the instructor into her office to begrudgingly apologize to me for her false accusation.

The next scrutiny my work received was of a far more honorable sort. I was given an English Composition Award for a piece I’d written in an undergraduate legal writing course, a remarkable feat as such awards are rarely doled out for professional writing coursework.

After college, I studied law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where my writing was recognized by publication in the school’s Journal of Law and Commerce and by an invitation to speak at the 54th annual Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Having tackled critical composition and legal analysis, I next moved on to wrestle other forms of writing. Since 2011, I have worked as a freelance reporter, accumulating journalism experience with media outlets such as CBS Local Media Pittsburgh and AOL’s Patch Network. At Patch alone, I wrote approximately 150 articles over the course of ten months.

My debut novel, In Wake of Water, marked my entry into another genre of writing—fiction. Less than four months after its publication, I finished my second novel, Pig, which was honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Of my manuscript, Publishers Weekly wrote: “The ultimate resolution of the story makes for quite a surprise… (Martin) is able to build good characters, flawed and believable, yet familiar; so that at the end one is saddened, but also, in a strange way, enriched.”

A review like that is evidence that I’ve been doing something right. But what?

I’ve been asked about my writing process countless times. My answer is always the same: I write with the intention of writing a good story. To some, this seems like an evasive answer, like I’m purposefully trying to conceal my trade secrets.

Dagnamit, I’m not trying to be cagey! I’m being perfectly candid.

I don’t sketch out a plot. I use no outlines or plans other than those in my head. I just think about what I want to write until I am ready to write it. And, as I write it, more thoughts come to me.

When penning (or, rather, typing) Pig, I started off with a general idea of the story I wanted to tell, the story of a woman reflecting on the loves and losses of her life. My main objective was to have her be a well-rounded person who endured both pits and peaks during her existence. She, as well as the cast of supporting characters, was to be both beautiful and flawed, just as we real people are.

I decided to have her life recounted in a setting where reflection is quite common: at a funeral home. I have experienced the deaths of many family members, and, therefore, understand and appreciate how the faces of funeral home patrons can stir memories, both good and bad.

Along that vein, I formulated the general structure of the imminent novel. I set out to alternate present tense happenings at the funeral home with past tense recollections of the main character’s life.

At the beginning of my writing process, that’s all I had in mind. I didn’t yet have the specifics of the story. I let those come to me, one chapter at a time. I’d sit down, write a chapter, and then think about what should come next.

What else would I want to know about this character or that event? What would shock me? How about a red herring, something that seems important but is nothing more than distraction? Where can I hide a clue to a secret I’ll reveal later? Can I make my characters any more believable? Any more compelling? Why did she do this, he do that, or they do the other thing?

Etc., etc., etc. until completion.

And, speaking of completion, I wrote the end of my novel when I got to the end. I didn’t have the ending in mind at the beginning. The conclusion flowed from me as the chapters before it had done, in a natural, coursing manner. In many ways, I think the resolution was there all along. It was just waiting for me to find it.

Perhaps my approach to the novel is novel, although I doubt I’m the first person to ever write this way. Given my background, or lack thereof, I write the only way I know how—as a reader. It is my greatest hope that my work will affect other readers as strongly as reading others has affected my work.

Read it. Live it. Love it. sbr.

Books by sbr martin:

Pig:
available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Pig-ebook/dp/B0... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sbrmartin.pig

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/In-Wake-Of-Wate... and likeable on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inwakeofwater

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Reblogged on The Writers' Nesst at http://writersnesst.wordpress.com/201... on July 19.