Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


Giving Up on a Book

This has nothing to do with Pitch Wars. I want to set that straight right off the bat. I love my PW manuscript with the fiery passion of a thousand supernovas, even though I’ve read it and rewritten it so many times I’ve lost track. No, this is the story of another book I wrote, and it’s about self-analysis and having reasonable expectations. Continue reading


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Shaking Things Up

Today I took a long look at one of the ways I’ve been defining myself and decided it’s time to drop a self-imposed restriction.

For a long time I’ve been defining myself as not liking fantasy as a genre. But when I look at what I enjoy most I realize I’ve read all of A Song of Ice and Fire and will read the rest of the books whenever GRRM writes them, and I’ve watched all of Game of Thrones and April 24 can’t come soon enough: there’s some hardcore fantasy.

What am I in the middle of in my downtime: Dragon Age: Inquisition and Heroes of Dragon Age. Guess what? Fantasy.

What was my first favorite book series? The Lord of the Rings. More fantasy!

It’s time to come to terms with this. I admit it now. Fantasy is an awesome genre. My intention when I started this post was to say it’s a great genre, but I can’t write it. Wrong! Which stories have I had published? Both fantasy.

Also, almost all the scifi I love best has elements of fantasy woven into it. There’s a slim line, actually, between a lot of fantasy elements and a lot of SF elements. Think Cylons as an army of Orcs, or Last Exile’s Silvana as Galactica or the Enterprise… things intertwine in so many ways. This is probably patently obvious to everyone already. About time I threw off the shackles of thinking of fantasy as something it isn’t and embracing it on an intellectual level for everything it is.

I could probably write for pages and pages about romance-as-fantasy, but I’ll quit while I’m ahead. You’re welcome.

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Writing for the Right Audience

Like a lot of writers, I remember thinking “I should write a young adult novel. They’re easier to sell.” It didn’t hurt that I had one started, a good portion of it sitting squarely in my pocket. That good portion had been sitting on the shelf for years. For NaNoWriMo a few years ago I dusted it off and wrote 50,000 new words for the story, and I liked it well enough to go ahead and start writing the sequel.

I’ve run into a few roadblocks along the way. First of all, the opening chapters were okay when I wrote them eight years ago. Unfortunately, they don’t really match the cadence and style of the later chapters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I like to think my writing’s improved over the past eight years. It’s problematical when I try to retrofit the original words with the newer ones, though.

Second, I’ve written better books since then. Books for adults. In fact, all my other stories have been written for adults.

Third, my enthusiasm for the YA novel is dropping meteorically. I’m much more excited about my latest work in progress (I should be) and exploring the adult emotions for the main characters.

What does this tell me? Right now, trying to brand myself as an author of works for young adults is the wrong thing to do. I have mixed feelings about this: I met so many of my favorite writer friends in the YA community. It’s a lovely and wonderful place to hang out. On Twitter, YA is a friendly and welcoming place, but if my heart’s not in those characters, then I suspect it’s not really where I belong.

I’m still a member of SCBWI. I’m not going to throw away my YA novel, because parts of it are pretty good. But for now, it’s on the shelf. Adult characters, you’ve got my focus.

Has this happened to any of you? Knowing myself, my writing areas of interest, my passions–it’s a good thing. I regret nothing.


On Genre

When I first started writing, the topic of genre confused me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t recognize a work of fantasy or of science fiction. I grew up reading JRR Tolkien, after all. The problem was that it was difficult to identify genre in my own work.

The more I write, the easier it becomes. I’m lucky that way: my latest work is young adult soft sci-fi. The one before that was a little more confusing. I thought it might have fit in the new adult arena, but my favorite beta reader assures me it needs to be categorized as literary (fortunately or not, that seems almost like a death knell for any story). The one before that was adult literary with elements of paranormal.

Part of me likes not being pigeon-holed into any one genre. The works I’ve had published qualify as fantasy, which is something I never thought I would be writing. One thing I’ve realized is that if I try to pigeonhole myself into only writing one genre, I miss out on a lot of possibilities.

I guess I don’t really have anything particularly concrete or insightful to say about this. It’s just something I’ve been considering a lot lately, because we all define ourselves by the things we do. That’s no different for me as a writer than it was when I was a massage therapist specializing in deep tissue work with a side branch of Reiki.

How about you? Do you like to stick to one genre, or are you a jack of all trades like I am?