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Packing Heat 119: Specializing

I'm off to Vegas for Photoshop World bright and early tomorrow morning, so I'd better post this now!

Packing Heat is a podcast I've been putting out since 2007. My goal is to help other writers stay motivated, and to encourage them to take their writing to the next level. You don't need special gadgets to listen; Packing Heat plays in your browser, like YouTube. Or you can subscribe (and leave me glowing feedback) at iTunes!


I won a pass to Photoshop World in Vegas! I'll take a week off Packing Heat and rejoin you the week after.

Another Yay

Charles just completed the third draft of his 66,000 word m/m paranormal! He also asked me the following:
...as soon as I get caught up on other things, I will go back to make a fourth draft to eliminate participial phrases. I don't look forward to it, but I believe you and I also find that in Stephen King's recent works, such as Under the Dome, he almost never uses participial phrases. I don't want my writing to rely on a construction that is passé.

The reason I am writing is to ask if you can recommend any good advice books with guidelines on how to vary sentence structure and keep writing interesting without relying on dated gimmicks like the participial phrase.

I loved the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. You can find more info about why participle phrases weaken your prose in the chapter about writing with sophistication. There's a really big excerpt on Google Books so you can read a bunch and see if it's something you'd like to own.

When to Specialize

Nobilis Reed asked:
When should an author specialize?  Develop a niche?

I noticed that your books are very focused; always M/M, with only a few genres.  It seems to be working well for you.

So far I've been writing fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk, trying my hand at many different things to see what people like. I'm even considering having a go at urban fantasy to see what happens.

Am I making a mistake? Would I be better off picking something and sticking with it?  Or should I wait and see how what I've done so far is received?

I love writing, but I can write lots of different things, and I'm happy writing in lots of different genres.  I could easily pick one setting and just write there and not get bored.  Should I be doing that?

One thing to remember is that you're already writing in a genre: erotic romance. I think a lot of the categories you mention (like sci fi and steampunk) have so much crossover they could be considered variations of each other.

You'll do better with being experimental if you keep your audience in mind. Someone who likes reading straight erotic SF might also love straight erotic steampunk. I think where the ground gets shaky is when you start playing around with the types of erotic romance you're writing—in other words, writing straight romance then suddenly going menage, or m/m. These types of preferences are deeply hardwired in our readers, and while some established authors do have readerships who will follow them from erotic genre to erotic genre, for many writers it's a quick way to lose a readership.

I'm curious how Nobilis' work would do if it were marketed toward men rather than women, since he's a self-proclaimed "boobiesexual." Most erotic romance publishers are geared toward women, so he'd need to look at some more hardcore markets.

I did a survey and asked my existing readers what kinds of story elements they wanted to see.

Most of them seem to want the elements that already exist in my most popular series, in a new story. Nobilis might consider doing a survey like this, however I'm not convinced that what readers say they want and what they actually buy are necessarily the same thing. He'd need to analyze a big pool of existing sales to really know for sure.

Your Assignment

Take either the current thing you're reading or the last thing you read, and list 10 things you like about it. I find this gives me greater clarity on which elements might work well in the story I'm writing.

(Hey, does this player work in LJ or do we get an error message? I think if you right-click on it, it might play...)

Otherwise, listen here - http://packingheat.net/2010/08/29/packing-heat-119-specializing.aspx


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
Hmm, participle phrases - totally coming up blank lol
Been a long day

Have a great time in Vegas!
Aug. 31st, 2010 07:50 am (UTC)
And YOU have a great time in Hamburg!
Aug. 31st, 2010 08:26 am (UTC)
Aug. 30th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
Congrats on winning the pass!! Maybe you will meet Candy Cane Guy or other horribly photoshopped cover models! ;)
Aug. 31st, 2010 07:51 am (UTC)
Would I recognize any of them unless they took off their shirts and flexed their six-packs? *ponders*
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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