This morning I spent a few minuted talking with a friend and colleague about a book he has abandoned halfway through and about which I never went beyond the Amazon preview. In about of self-assuredness, I mentioned the fact that a book like that I can write in two weekends. Which was not meant literally, but close to it. Let’s say I can crank out ten thousand words a day – two weekends, starting on Friday evening, would mean 50.000/60.000 words in two weekends.
Nice and smooth.
I mentioned this to another friend, about half an hour ago – she’s writing a series, and she was taking a break, and we exchanged a few messages. The point of the discussion was – the time-consuming part is not typing (and she’s a much faster typist than I am), but coming up with good ideas.
Ideas about plot twists, character traits and interactions, ideas about dialogue.
Good ideas and the research to stimulate and back them are the critical point, and they are time consuming.
A lot of genre fiction is formula fiction – you can outline the basic heroic fantasy plot on a post it, and it fits a shelf-load of books. It’s basically fill-in-the-blanks.
Or, rather, it is if the writer does not strive to put something else in. The aforementioned ideas, and the research thereof.
I often complain about imaginative fiction devoid of imagination. And I usually blame this fact on the tendency many budding genre writers have, to read only their genre. It’s pretty hard to have new ideas if all you read is the same sort of stuff that you write.
But there is another factor: if you have read enough genre fiction and you don’t want to bother inventing anything new, writing a story turns into a pretty fast job. It’s basically a matter of typing.
Which leaves a very big question open. A number of questions, actually, these being…
What of the editor?
What of the publisher?
What of the reviewers?
What of the readers?
Are they all fine with yet another standard, paint-by-numbers, formula novel?