Thursday, July 9, 2009

If you're gonna get in the fast lane, you better drive fast!

As a driver, nothing annoys me more than people who swerve into the fast lane and then drag along at snail's pace (pedestrians walking on the roads and leaving the pavement for stray dogs is another peeve, but I won't go there today). Let me give you the picture - in Mauritius, we drive on the left side of the road (I know, the 'wrong' lane, lol!) so the fast lane is actually the right lane. Speed limit on the motorway where we have dual/more lanes is 110 kms per hour. That's roughly 75 miles, I think. So there you go, driving at 80 kms (50 miles?) in the left lane (which is fine) and you swerve into the fast lane. Bleeeppp!!! You cannot continue driving at 80 on a lane where everyone is doing at least 100!

The same, imo, applies to writing. If you're gonna write something, write it well (fast lane = drive fast). This follows a lot upon T.J's post, but I won't ask you about the personal line you do not cross. I'm gonna ask you about how you tackle that which you've decided to tackle.

On my website blog last week, I wrote about the feel of authenticity, and how I as a writer strive to bring such authenticity to my work. I used the example of the hero in my current WIP to pen that one.

But what applies to the hero applies to just about every other aspect of a story - plot, twists, characterization, start, middle and end. You expect a tragedy to have a tragic ending. You expect a comedy to make you laugh. You expect a romance to have an HEA. That's authenticity too.

So what then happens when you don't have that? A lot of writers take the line of 'twist, spin, flip' to an extreme. Yes, they do twist, spin, flip an existing genre/category/line/premise. But most get lost along the way. For example, the supernatural hero who is too heroic and has no Achilles heel. The downtrodden heroine who would make even Oxfam look like selfish snobs. The Alpha hero who would make lava turn to ice and ice turn to molten rock.

Or, you get writers who take a romance and add an urban fantasy feel to it. The women's fiction who takes on comedy of errors scheme. The paranormal with fantasy elements. That's the realm of cross-genre, and if you're gonna write cross-genre, you better write it well.

Twist, spin, flip. There are ways to bring this about. Take an exotic locale and turn it into a lair for fantasy creatures. Take another exotic premise and give it new life. Mix archetypes and layer them. When at one turning point, when whatever it is that's established expects you to turn right, turn left at that crossroads and see where it leads you. Many great stories have been penned this way.

But be ready to answer to the genre/rule/scheme you'll be twisting, spinning, and flipping, and ask yourself whether or not there is sense in what you've done/written (a good crit group/partners comes very handy here). Driving fast in the fast lane doesn't mean you drive with no foot on the brake and no eye on the rearview mirror. Driving fast in the fast lane means you are even more vigilant of the road and anything that could unexpectedly happen, all while you feel your back pressing into your seat, your hands sensually stroking the steering wheel while a smile of bliss tugs at the corners of your lips thanks to the exhilaration of the speed and the rev of the engine when your foot lingers on the pedal.

You should have fun with your writing too, but you should never leave that responsible, grown-up part of the writer get lost in the joy and sense of freedom.

Now tell me - do you write in the fast lane? And what is it like for you?

All comments more than welcome!

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural Romantic Fiction, With a Twist
Coming out October 2 - Light My World - Eirelander Publishing
Nolwynn Ardennes - The Promise of Fulfilment
Coming out in January 8, 2010 - Storms in a Shot Glass - Eirelander Publishing

Aasiyah Qamar/Nolwynn Ardennes - Romance the world over


TJ said...

Nobody can deny it. I write in the fast lane. It follows my premise that if I'm going to go there - I better go there in spades.

I enjoy the fast lane anymore but that wasn't always the case. It took me time to grow as an author before I was truly ready to join the speed demons.

Sandy said...

I want more than anything to join the authors writing in the fast lane, but I'm not there yet.

Some day though, I hope.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey ladies!

Thanks for the comments! It's true that to drive in the fast lane you first need to know how to drive, and slowly too at that!

however in writing, there isn't any driver's license test we can pass that will allow us to take the normal lane even - having pubbed 1-2-3 books isn't exactly the yardstick by which you know you can drive fast.

Like you say, it's a question of being comfortable with yourself, of knowing what works for you nd what doesn't, and knowing your writing too that will enable you to take the fast lane.

But I do agree with you, T.J - if you're gonna go there, land smack in the middle of it and don't just linger on the threshold.