The idea that writers should only write what interests them and not write what is currently popular is one of those golden rules that gets bandied about by writers agents and publishers. Probably because when you get right down to it, nobody really knows what will be popular next and maybe it could be what you are writing. That’s a pretty big risk to take on a project that will take you months to complete. But then as a writer, every time you write a novel its a big risk. Maybe no agent will like it, maybe it will languish on Amazon with no reads. Maybe it will in the end, only appeal to you and nobody else.
What if you studied what is currently getting popular and used the tropes of those books to write a novel that should by all means succeed? That was the position that Chris Fox took with his book Write to Market. I read it with particular interest because his next novel is a Military SF genre and he’s specifically writing it with the currently popular tropes. Just putting his own spin on it. When you read his book, and I recommend every writer read it, you begin to see that he’s actually thought about it more than most. I think aside from his arguments, which are quite logical, I began to realize that after writing nine novels of what I like, maybe it couldn’t hurt to write what readers like for once. Just to see how it goes. It’s not like I have a huge audience clamoring to read my next original novel.
One thing that did occur to me while I read Chris’s book was that John Scalzi did the same thing with his first real novel, Old Man’s War. He checked out the book shelves and saw that Military SF was doing well and then went and shadowed the plot of the book considered by many as the first best example of that genre, Starship Troopers. It certainly worked out for him. Although that is a very small sample size, mind you.
So I’m diving into the Military SF market using the same common tropes that the top selling Indie authors are currently using. Of course I can’t just make up a new universe, so I’m setting it before my current Star Saga novels. This will allow me to use it as a funnel in the unlikely event that people enjoy this novel. Of course the danger is when they come to my original plotted books they might be disappointed. So be it. At least my name will be out there as having written at least one popular novel.
It just so happens that Space Opera is becoming popular again due in no small part to the latest Star Wars movie setting the box office on fire. I was hoping that would happen because I have a lot of that lying around my Amazon author page. All I have to do now is grab reader’s attentions and then sort of go, pssst, over here is something like Star Wars but less silly. Wink, wink.
Military SF is an off shoot of Space Opera in specific and Science Fiction in general. In Military SF the focus is usually more on a battle or at least the fighting bits. Where as Space Opera’s scope is more galactic in nature and may or may not directly involve fighting. Usually the tone and pacing is fast and realistic as it pertains to combat. While I’ve written plenty of battle bits in my Space Opera saga, the focus often shifts between points of view of the enemy and the good guys and sometimes pulls away from the combat to include the political maneuvering and some civilian plot lines. In a true Military SF story it’s just about the men and women doing the fighting.
In my next post I’ll start a detailed series about how I write a novel. My intention is to knock this one out as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. So I’ll be compressing my normal timeline for book completion to just a few months. It’s all part of the experiment to see if I can use these techniques of writing quickly and pushing a novel through editing and out for publication in as short a time as I can. Since I don’t write full time, this will all be done on my lunch hours as my day job. A maximum of five hours a week to be spent on the writing, editing and publishing bits. I usually build a model or two for my book covers and that time will be done on the weekends and not subjected to specific hourly increments. I just have to complete the model and shoot it before the book is ready for it’s cover.
Of course this moves out the start date of my next Star Saga novel, XiniX, but I’m okay with that. Ideally this new novel will be released by summer. Being that it’s now nearly March, I had better get cracking.