I’ve always enjoyed catching as much of the morning news as possible, but it feels to me that recently it has become terribly chatty. The hosts seem more interested in entertaining rather than educating, so much so that they talk over the top of each other and laugh so loud (I’m a loud laugher, a bit of a nervous habit I can’t seem to break) that it’s impossible to get the points they are trying to make. Who knows, maybe they are nervous being put on the spot as well, but they are paid the big bucks to get info to us, so they don’t get a pass from this laugher.
But what does this have to do with writing? Puh-lenty.
Are you ever inclined to just write for the sake of writing? To let the words go hither and yon…wow! did that ever date me, with no concern of a message being spoken? And I’m not meaning inspirational versus secular, because every work should have some kind of message. Do you get so caught up on the chattiness that you forget you are on a mission?
When I first started as an agent, I simply did not find the time to do any reading for pure enjoyment. I felt my long hours each week were better spent digging into clients’ works and looking at new submissions. And while I still do that, I realize that at least some time has to be spent reading for the sake of reading. How else do I compare submissions to novels that are selling well in the market?
What I found surprised me.
Some stories seem to have been written simply for the author to be chatty with their readers. No substance, no meat, nothing to sink the teeth into. Whether you write the next great American novel or a sweet little romance where everyone knows what the outcome will be, do you do your best to educate, entertain, and offer at least a little bit of meat to your reader?
In a sweet, historical romance do you give them actual facts about the time period (education)? Do you do your best to develop strong characters who step off the pages and make the reader want to know them on a more personal basis (entertainment)? And do you push the limits of what your genre is meant to accomplish by digging just a little deeper than the next guy who writes this genre?
Weigh in one hand being able to crank out a story, being chatty, and in the other, your responsibility to give the reader something he can’t find anywhere else in that genre. Are you measuring up?