Now for the real post

I took a self-imposed vacation from social media the last few days. I won’t go into the details except to say I got tired of the double-standard some folks on both ends of the political spectrum seem to embrace. It was step way or go “Hulk smash” across a number of social media platforms and that wouldn’t have been pretty. In fact, I’m still bothered by it enough this morning I drafted a post about it and filed it away in the “drafts” section of the blog. It helped to write it down. Now I just have to put it behind me.

I want to take a couple of minutes this morning to talk writing in general. Over the years I’ve been doing this, there is one thing that I’ve never understood. When you decide to write in a specific genre or sub-genre, how can you do so without reading that genre? To me, it is part of the research any writer should be doing. You need to understand what the genre is, what the “rules” are and what tropes readers expect or don’t expect. You need to see what the trends in the genre are, not just on the traditional publishing end but the indie end as well.

Then there is research in general. I have yet to write a book, or even a short story, where there hasn’t been some sort of research involved. It might be researching the legalities of certain actions if I’m writing suspense. It might be researching weaponry, especially if I’m writing fantasy and my characters need to be armored. It might be naming conventions and what certain names mean. I might not always have the research done before I start writing, but I make notes as I go about what needs to be filled in or clarified, etc.

Little makes me want to plant a book against the far wall more than the lack of even rudimentary research by an author. I was reading one last night and stopped after the second chapter because the author didn’t even check a map of the area where their story was taking place. Here’s a clue. Fort Worth is not EAST of Dallas. Denton is not SOUTH of Dallas. How hard is it to open a map of Texas on your computer and look at it to see the general location of major cities?

Just because you write fantasy doesn’t free you from having a world that makes sense. If you have magic, there must be rules and those rules must be followed unless you have already set up for exceptions. Handwavium only goes so far before you get into Mary Sue and Deus Ex Machina situations. Genre doesn’t matter.

Okay, enough bitching from me. It’s Monday. I haven’t had enough coffee. So let’s leave it with this. Remember what you like to read and ask yourself why you like it. Now, figure out how you can use that knowledge to make your writing better.

I’ll be back in an hour or so with a snippet. Coffee first.

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