There’s basically three categories into which the stories I am writing these days fall. This is something I was considering this morning, while I divided my time between a short that doesn’t want to work, and checking how my latest ebook is doing on KDP.
The stories I like.
This is the first obvious category. These are stories written for the sheer pleasure of telling them. They can be based on the weirdest premise, fall between genres, have an unwieldy length. They usually start as “I’ll try and write down a few paragraphs of this—”
The stories for the market.
These are the ones written based on calls by magazines or publishers. They come with specific guidelines and a set word-count and a deadline. These are the stories I am focusing on at the moment, but stories in established series of mine also fall in this category. My control over the story is somewhat tempered by the requirements of the publisher, or by the expectations of an established readership.
The stories that sell.
These are stories written first and foremost because there are bills to pay, and these stories are “the sure thing” – they will sell. You self-publish them and then watch the KDP meters climb as copies get purchased.
Now, in an ideal world, the three categories should overlap perfectly: I write to market stories that I like, and that will certainly be acquired by the editor or make a big splash with the readers.
It sometimes happens, BUSCAFUSCO being a good example.
But it is not always so.
And indeed, writing to calls can be at times draining – one is so focused on checking all the boxes in the guidelines, that in the end the sheer fun of invention and writing gets lost. And often, eminently salable stories are not the sort that I like best.
So, once in a while I just sit back and start writing for the heck of it – stories written for the fun of writing them, without an eye to the market or anything else.
It’s good to keep the writing muscles working, and keep the flow of the narrative natural.
Once the writing gets stilted, it’s the end.