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Knowing what might sell

edited October 2005 in - Writing Tales


  • Hello all. This is my first posting. As someone new to writing I have been spending a lot of time walking the bookshelves of our major book stores looking at the enormous variety of fiction available. There are so many things one could write about and so many things that one might be interested in. My question is "How on earth can I begin to know what I should write? If I want to attempt a novel that might take years of my life do I just write what comes to me, what interests me or do I see what already sells and attempt to produce something similar?" Is anyone else asking the same question?
  • Hello,
    Welcome to the site.
    I think most people here would agree with me when I say it is far easier to write about what you know than anything else. If you love a particular genre try that to start with or write non-fiction about a subject you know well. Trying to write something similar to what is already on the shelves is not recommended as by the time yours has been written, accepted and published, the particular theme will probably no longer be current.
    I love horror and humour and fantasy, so that is what I write, it means I enjoy it.
    Whatever you write, have fun with it and let us know how it goes...
  • I think everyone new to writing needs to 'scratch around' for a while to find their chosen genre.  Have a go at a variety of things to find what you enjoy writing.  Use the writing mags for inspiration.  Consider what it is you enjoy reading - this may give you a few clues.
  • Read Dorothy Brande's 'Becoming a Writer.' Its brilliant for tips on getting started, becoming motivated and keeping up the ideas. More to do with how to be a writer and what problems you are likely to meet, rather than an instruction manual on how to write.  Worth looking at.
  • Many thanks for taking the time to reply with this good advice. It's good to know there are answers out there. One of the things I am trying is to make a reading list (and schedule) that includes a number of genres. This way I hope to get a view of what I naturally enjoy and so may like to write. I am trying to read 'as a writer' as they say! This way I will be able to try something new instead of sticking to the same thing. Who knows I may find a fresh angle on what I read over the coming months. Thanks again.
  • You can't know in advance! Look at the Booker price lists - such a diversity, isn't it. And such surprises. Everything that's written well will sell. If you write what you don't enjoy writing about - the forcefulness of style will show. You can still write what you enjoy - there are always similar books out that you can check and compare yours to.
  • Hi Andypandy,

    You've had lots of great advice, which I echo.  I just wanted to say hi and welcome, and wish you luck...Starting off is such fun!  You'll be trying different genres, finding your unique voice and discovering unexpected interests too.  Enjoy experimenting!

  • Big mistake of new writers is to look at best sellers, booker prize,WH Smiths etc.  Put me off for years. Study magazines,writing competitions etc.  Look at small press,county magazines,local newspapers.Look for stories, not markets.  Look for people in action not fame. This is where most serious, published writers start off. In effect, don't be too big to think small, and you will never be out of work.
  • As the others have said, welcome. You have received the best advice already, but I would add don't worry if it takes some time to decide what you want to write. One magic day you will be writing and you will hear your 'voice', could take a year or two but by then you will have a good idea of what you want to do. I have writing friends who do work in two or three genres, others only one. Look on this stage as your learning curve, we all had to do it. Good luck.
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