Recently there’s been a trend to jump to a hot topic in writing, one where everyone else seems to be making big money and receiving huge accolades for their work in this genre.
You may have noticed this change in an author that you’ve been following for a while, like a romance author. For years, you have been enjoying her sweet tales of love and courtship and are excited to hear that she has a new book coming out. Knowing that you love this author, you pre-order the book, not even paying attention to the book description, as you know you love what she writes.
The release date comes and you eagerly delve into the book, only to find that your beloved author has ventured into a place you were not prepared to travel. This sweet romance author’s new book is now paranormal romance or even more surprising, erotic fiction!
Now you’re no prude, you’ve read 50 Shades of Grey, but you weren’t expecting this experience with this author in this book! You have a certain level of trust with each author and with this romance author, you have trusted her “brand”, that she’ll take you on a sweet tale of love, hope and starting over and nothing in those stories goes anywhere near 50 Shades of anything!
What happens now? You’ve lost trust and confidence in your author, you no longer know her brand or can trust what you buy from her. It’s like waking up one day as one of those characters in her romance books, where the woman thought she knew who her husband was, only to find out he’s been lying to her and has run off with his secretary. What’s wrong with the old model you ask? When did we part ways and lose the attraction for each other? Is there something wrong with me wanting to read about plain old romance?
In a different scenario, a first time writer, decides that she loves writing about romance and is going to base her books on romance. She’s heard though that paranormal romance is the most popular genre in this category and while she doesn’t know much of anything about the paranormal, she figures how hard is it to throw a ghost and some vampires into the mix of her story…
Readers who love paranormal romance, discover her book and eagerly pounce on it, ready to discover a new author. To their deep disappointment, the writer quickly proves that she did very little research about the paranormal realms and does not understand that even for fictional supernatural characters, they have codes of conduct like everyone else.
I recently read a novel like this, where the author had no concept about ghosts and what she wrote about the ghosts made very little sense. It ruined the story and even worse, the reader reviews reflected their anger in her lack of knowledge of the paranormal. She lost their trust as a writer, for even fiction has to be believable, even in the realms of the supernatural. There’s little chance that she’ll recover from this faux pas with most of her paranormal romance readers.
Another disturbing trend is the write a book in a month and publish it right away concept. This is possible if you write about a topic that you know well and love. If you are trying to write about a new topic that you don’t know much about, this goal is difficult to achieve as you’ll need to do a lot of research to ensure that you fully understand the new topic. I recently saw the disastrous results of one of these books, published by an author who decided to set her story in New Orleans, a city that I and millions of other people love.
A paranormal mystery set in New Orleans, of course I wanted to read the book and I eagerly downloaded it through Amazon. By the third page, I was angry and by the end of chapter one, I was completely disappointed and irritated. It appears that the author has absolutely no knowledge of the city. She described the city over and over through the eyes of the main character, yet the facts and information were dead wrong and at times even insulting. Even major topics like Mardi Gras and Jazz Funerals were horribly inaccurate in their description and the butchering and typecasting of the southern characters felt hostile towards the city and southern people in general.
Now if this was supposed to be the point of the book, to be seen through the eyes of a character who did not like the city or southern people, then as a reader, you understand this concept and go with it for the story. But this was just a case of poor writing and lack of research. The writer would attempt to describe the characters at an event like Mardi Gras or attending a Jazz Funeral, providing descriptions that were completely wrong and culturally insulting. Suffice to say, I won’t be reading any other books by this author or recommending her work as I have less than zero percent trust or respect for her appalling lack of research or understanding of the people, places and things in New Orleans.
As a writer, even when writing fiction, you build trust with your readers. Your stories, even when delving into fantasy, the supernatural, or erotica, must still be believable and the facts of people, places and things need to connect the reader to the story. If you can not set the proper scene, the reader can not enter the story with you and all is lost at this point.
When you are first starting out as a writer, Write About What You Know and What You Love.
It’s hard enough to put your thoughts on paper with a subject you love, much less one that you know nothing about. Later when you’ve sharpened your writing chops, spread your wings and write about topics in which you are not as knowledgeable, just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to research the topic fully so that you can truly engage the reader into the scene and characters.