You’re trying to be original, but pivot on the idea of one size fits all. In other words, writing genre, but you still have to fail fast, fail often, and pivot, they say. Rinse and repeat until you find what readers like. Inspired by the early adopters of agile methods for programming design, this strategy has become general marketing advice for scribes, creatives, and digital movers and shakers. Traditionally, writers would spend a decade or two developing their idea, writing and refining their masterpiece. Today’s world doesn’t have the patience. Decades of painstaking work to produce a work ground-breaking and original, but what if readers don’t like it? Shouldn’t a writer play it safe and cater to known and established tastes?
After a prolific five years, a dozen screenplays, a barrowload of short scripts, several works of fiction and taking a handful of intensive online courses, I’m assessing where I’m at.
Fail Fast, Fail Often
Reading discussions of career prospects, a.k.a. hopes & dreams, in my writers’ groups, I suspect millions of writers are doing the same. We went into this game with our eyes open, knowing how difficult the terrain was and being warned against it, but we had a rough idea, and could see the major landmarks and pitfalls (not all) stretching before us. But, and it’s a big one, the pandemic has changed everything. The ‘old’ landscape is swept away. Most sectors have suffered and some, unexpectedly, have flourished. But we can experiment with variations on a theme whilst maintaining the core fit that your genre readers are looking for.
Moving Pictures Stalled
The film industry has undergone massive change. On the one hand there is an insatiable demand for streaming and TV content. Cue writers’ cheers. On the other, cinemas have closed, whole franchises and film distribution have gone up in puffs of smoke, and film production all but ceased for 2020. Cue writers’ tears. By whatever means production starts up again, and it will, filmmaking will become horrendously expensive with the added layer of Covid-friendly measures, Covid insurance, Covid logistics and all the rest of it.
One Size Fits All?
It’s not the end of the world, but we’re all having to navigate unfamiliar terrain. I’m sure things vary from country to country too. Books are enjoying a boom time, above all audiobooks, but they’re expensive to produce. To self-publish by the tried and tested, cheap ‘n cheerful means, you need to write fast and edit faster if you want to keep up. There are tens of millions of authors ahead of you. Mind you, it’s still true that readers know what they like and will love you if you can feed their tastes and hate you if you disappoint them.
Where does this leave me? I don’t know, to be honest. Having focused intensively on script writing for the last four years, I’m expanding my efforts into fiction once again and my site will be more focused on those projects. I still write scripts, but my content will be aimed at fiction readers rather than fellow writers and screenwriters.
I’m writing Urban Fantasy, hopefully some Magical Realism, and stepping over the boundary into Sci-Fi. I write Supernatural Fantasy and also Supernatural Horror. These are not as different as they seem because they start from the same baseline: human perception. As a writer, I’m fascinated by our different points of view on the world and it drives much of my work.
My published novels are FAR OUT (Futuristic, Dystopian Sci-Fi), FLAT SQUIRREL (Action & Adventure Comedy). They’re less of a one size fits all, more of a mixed bag, I think you’ll agree, but in the spirit of fail fast, fail often, I’ll persevere. That way, I can get to learn what you like to read. TOTRH is released on 31 July. You can snag it at a special pre-order price on Amazon sites. The paperback will be out at the same time. I love writing about ancient Egypt and have planned more stories set in that time.
I have a new Urban Fantasy (UF) coming out soon about a tree spirit. I’m aiming for August but it’s tight for the final edit. However, I’ll be doing a cover reveal in July, so you can check back for that, and I have more projects lined up for the end of the year.
Rinse & Repeat
What genres are you into? Comment and let me know, so I can do the pivot thing and write what you like to read. In the meantime I’ll fail often and fail fast until I find where we all like to hang out.
Filmmakers and production companies can see my screenplays here.