Thursday Toss: Which literary wish would you choose?

The other day, I and a group (writers and non-writers) of friends and associates had a highly charged discussion about a simple question I posed to everyone:

If you were granted one wish by the literary fairy godmother to advance your writing career, which would you choose?
A) Be granted all the readers I wanted no matter how or what I wrote.
B) Be granted the talent to write a phenomenal book

The choice, along with the explanation as to why they chose it, was interesting to say the least.

One woman (a non-writer) chose option A and received a few raised brows. She backed up her choice by stating that she, “was about the money and readers brought in revenue.”

Another person counteracted her choice by pointing out, “you bring dirt in the house if you walk through it outside.” We weren’t quite sure where she was going with that analogy, but it kind of, sort of made sense at the time. Still the Option A woman, stood her ground and added, “Look at the Fifty Shades of Grey author.”

As you might imagine the intensity in the air rose a tad higher, after the “oohs and ahhhs,” followed by the pros and cons of the now notorious book.

After the dust settled, (somewhat) someone else (a dabbler in writing) chose, Option B stating that they rather be known for writing a good book than for garbage, even if only five people read it. “It’s about quality, not quantity.” They went on to say that if only five people read their book, those five would have something meaningful etched on their brain, and that would be okay with them.

Author Chinua Achebe’s book, “Things Fall Apart,” was their justification. The book started out with little following or readership after it was published, and is now required reading by many English professors.

That was the discussion more or less, with a lot of debating in between. (It would be a long blog if I retold it in its entirety.)

But I wanted to toss it out there on this rainy (where I am) Thursday. Any thoughts?

Oh, and be wary if your fairy godmother is the one from “Shrek 2.” Your wish may be subject to a little underhandedness. 😉

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Is life too easy for your characters? Bring on the obstacles …

When writing fiction, particularly romance, we have been taught that readers want a heroine or hero who experience tragedy and then rise back from the depths of hell to claim (or reclaim) their true love. My words, but you get the gist.

Short and sweet, a character must overcome obstacles (and many) if your story is to have a satisfying ending, or for romance writers, the must have happily ever after.

If you’re having trouble doing that, an article, “Throw Obstacles at Your Characters” from Writing World may help you get started. This is one of the best writer’s reference sites around. I keep a binder filled with a plethora of articles on the craft and business of writing that always come in handy.

Case in point.

I’m working on my second book, and for some reasons I didn’t think my heroine, a pediatric nurse and single mother, who is afraid of getting involved with another man after a mentally abusive relationship with the father of her child, didn’t have enough obstacles. So I went back to my trusty binder and reread, “Throw Obstacles at Your Characters.”

So far, the list of obstacles in my wonderful heroine’s life goes like this. While camping with the new love of her life, she falls off a ravine, sprains her ankle and gets bitten by a snake. At some point in the story, when she finally finds true love, she loses it. She chooses not to believe the hero when he tells her that her ex-lover, who has slithered back into her life, isn’t sincere and has ulterior motives for coming back. And if a separation isn’t enough, the ex-lover kidnaps her son (and his) to force her hand into marriage. Nice guy, huh?

Oh, and did I mention that professionally, my heroine comes under suspicion for aiding and abetting a criminal in an illegal prescription drug ring?

Hmmm … I think I need more obstacles.

Thursday’s Toss: Would You Let Readers Watch as You Write Your Book?

Here’s an unusual way to write a novel.

An article on GalleyCat, a great site for writers,(and readers!) featured an author from the UK who was about to embark on a project that would allow readers to follow her as she writes her next novel. Apparently anyone who clicks on the link she intends to provide, can offer feedback and watch her work. The author claims she wants to “push the boundaries of the author/reader relationship.”

As a reader, I wondered who would want to sit through that process filled with edits, and backspacing? AND is there an author I admire THAT much to sit through the whole process?

I don’t think so. I’ll wait for the completed book.

Then “Ms. Snarkmeister” (yours truly) starts asking more questions, from a writer’s point of view. Is this author being lazy and hoping to spring ideas from her fans? What if she gets an idea from the solicited “feedback” of her watchers? Will she use that idea? Will she share a cut of her royalties with the reader who came up with the fabulous idea?

Frankly, I like that writing is a solitary endeavor. I’m not ready for prime time writing. There are too many ugly things involved when I write:

1. I tend to write during the wee hours of the morning 1:00, 2:00 sometimes 3:00 o’clock. The last thing I’d want to do is scare away potential readers because the hair is hideous, the makeup is gone, and the coffee is wearing off.

2. I do things with my gummy bears that I don’t really want to share with the public.

3. I’d have to fight with my dog for camera time. He’s quite a little ham.

4. I tend to use every emotion imaginable when writing, which isn’t a BAD thing. But trust me, it could definitely get out of control. (Can you say Dr. Jekyll?)

But nevermind me. Would you let people read your book as you write it? Just tossing it out there!