Removing large-scale defaults in my work
I feel like who I am as a writer is always in flux. Which I think is a really good thing and I hope I always keep pushing myself. These are just a few ways that aspects of my writing have moved beyond a norm I’d instinctively set for myself.
There was a time when every story I wrote was in third person perspective. Everything. I didn’t even consider writing in first person because I didn’t tend to like first person stories as much. You can get pretty close to a character even in third person, so I never thought much about it. There was even an interview I read by another author who said she only wrote in first person because she didn’t think she could get as close in third and I thought…”how silly” and “I would hate to only write in first.”
Slowly, I’ve gone beyond third person. I’ve written plenty of stories in first and even in second person (though I’m still iffy on doing whole novels in second because you need to have a really good reason for it). When I sit down to write a new story, I’m far more likely to truly consider perspective and decide which one will be best for the story I want to tell rather than default to the one I use the most often.
I also used to only write secondary world/high fantasy or distant science-fiction. I still default to distant time science-fiction if I write sci-fi because near future seems synonymous with hard science-fiction to a lot of people and I’m much more of a “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…” and “who cares if it’s impossible” type of writer.
However, my default to secondary world stories has altered too. I’ve plenty of contemporary fantasy stories now, and while some of them are ones I think don’t work as well as others, I’m not quite as against doing modern-style stories as I once was. Though…my first love is secondary and likely always will be, so all the loooong books are probably going to be set in another world where I can change whatever rules I want, whenever I want.
When I first started writing, I often reached for male/female pairings in all my writing, including non-romance. I’d have a male/female detective pair, mage pair, master and student pair, etc. You can see some of this in a few of my novels.
Now, of course, most of my pairings are male/male. This is partly because I realized the lack of cross-over in audience and how crafting a particular brand as an author was important. Yet, I still write some of those pairings, just not as romantic situations normally. Again, I’ve gone beyond a default and think about my partnerships that I’m crafting and what I want out of them.
My first ever written project when I decided to get serious was a 90 thousand word pile of garbage. It had been my first attempt at a novel and it proved how little I knew. After that, I switched to short stories because I realized I needed to practice all the parts of a story many, many times over. Beginnings and endings only happen once in a story and they are some of the most important places to get right, since one hooks your reader and the other leaves them with a final emotion (hopefully satisfaction). Short stories allowed me to practice beginnings and endings a lot more than a novel would.
But then I got stuck only knowing how to write short. [Shortish, because most of my stories would be novelette length.] So in order to figure out how to write longer, I strung shorter stories dealing with the same character together. You can see this in Dark Phoenix & Siren Song, two of my first published novellas, as they were both five short stories strung together, each dealing with the same two characters. I think it was an important part of the process because now, despite the fact that I still perpetually underestimate how long something will be, I do have a greater control over an idea and whether it will fit inside a short story, a novella or a novel; my ideas no longer default to any one size.