Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Changing Direction as a Writer


One of the biggest dangers for any writer, at least in my opinion, is that of finding yourself on a treadmill, perhaps trapped in a formulaic type of writing. Even if it’s a winning formula, there is a real risk of becoming stale, and of losing the excitement that is so important to writing. If an author doesn’t feel excited by what he or she writes, there’s little chance that the reader will be excited, either. So it’s very important to keep fresh.

That’s one of the reasons why I like writing short stories – not only a break from writing a novel, but also an opportunity to change pace, and direction. You can take risks with a short story that may seem impossible with a novel. Many writers can’t face the prospect of writing something experimental for a year that in the end simply doesn’t work out. But experimenting with a short story means that you are only sacrificing, say, a couple of weeks’ work if the story doesn’t gell at all.

A few months ago I decided to have a crack at a type of story that has always interested me, and that I’ve never tried before. I’d been reading a book about ghost stories and I couldn’t resist having a go at a ghost story myself. Writing ‘No Flowers’ was a very enjoyable experience indeed, and once I’d finished it, I returned to my novel-in-progress refreshed.

Rather speculatively, I submitted ‘No Flowers’ to ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’, and I’m delighted to report that it’s just been accepted for publication. Of course, it’s very different from my ‘usual’ brand of crime writing, but over the years, I have tried my hand at a fairly wide range of stories, and I’d like to continue doing so. It’s not because I’m dissatisfied with crime writing – on the contrary. I’m sure this approach helps me to return to, say, a Lake District Mystery with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. As to whether I’ll write more ghost stories at a future date – well, why not?

14 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I know exactly what you mean about trying something new. I look forward to reading your story. And, by the way, very nice interview at Scene of the Crime.

Mason Canyon said...

Congratulations on having your short story published. I think a change sometimes from what we do does give us a clear picture when we return.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Spangle said...

Congratualtions on your story being published!

The thing about writing is that it's so unexpected. It can take you on journeys, that you never thought you would go on. That bit for me, is that most exciting part about the process.

When is your story being published?

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, congratulations! I agree that it's important o break out of your writing mold once and awhile. It's good to break boundaries and test yourself as a writer.

CD

Nan said...

How very exciting for you! Congrats.

Dorte H said...

Congratulations!

And I can´t be the only reader who hopes you WILL return to your Lake District series with your usual vigour and enthusiasm. Not that I mind well-written ghost stories, but I do prefer crime novels.

Martin Edwards said...

Thank you, Margot I was glad to do that interview with Syd.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Mason. 'A clear picture' is the right phrase. And it's a good feeling when the fog lifts!

Martin Edwards said...

Greetings, Spangle. I agree about the excitement of the unexpected. Not sure when the story is to be published - maybe in three or four months' time, perhaps a bit longer.

Martin Edwards said...

Clarissa, Nan, Dorte, thank you. Dorte, there's no way I'm giving up crime!

vegetableduck said...

It's interesting that the Golden Age of the British detective novel was also the Golden Age of the British ghost story. There was a lot of overlap of appeal, even though the one offers a rational explanation of events, the other an irrational one. Maybe it's something about finding explanations to mysteries, also the milieus.

Nik said...

Congratulations on getting accepted by EQMM. That's a market I'm still trying to crack. The best way to avoid getting into a rut, as you say, is try something different. My published/accepted books are 4 westerns, 3 crime thrillers, 2 spy adventures, an erotic WWI thriller, and I'm trying to get publishers interested in my fantasy quest, my time travel dystopia and my vampire thriller set in Malta... All grist to the writing mill.

Martin Edwards said...

Curt, you make a very interesting point about GA ghost stories. Thought provoking.

Martin Edwards said...

Nik - wow, that truly is impressive versatility!