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Simple But Confounding Advice: Don't Write Stuff You Don't Enjoy Reading

Illustration for article titled Simple But Confounding Advice: Dont Write Stuff You Dont Enjoy Reading

Writer S.C. Butler has some advice that writers everywhere should pay attention to: Write the kinds of books you actually enjoy reading, not the books you think will sell, or the ones you have a killer idea for.

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Writing in SFNovelists, Butler explains:

I tried to write a thriller. It was the last book I worked on before starting Reiffen's Choice, the first book I sold. The problem was, I don't like thrillers. Never have, never will. At least not reading them. (I've always loved thriller movies.) But I had this great idea, and a great ending. A shootout on top of Mt. Washington in a June snowstorm. Very visual. I was sure I could sell it.

But first I had to write it. Boy, was that painful. Like I said, I hate thrillers. My idea was about a serial killer who murders child molesters, and the biggest problem was that I had to write all these molestation flashbacks and come up with about half a dozen creative, graphic murders. Very nasty. I stated really dreading my time at the keyboard.

Even worse, it was boring. I was boring myself, which is a terrible sign. If you don't jump up and punch the air in celebration once every couple of weeks about a scene you've just written, chances are no one else is going to punch the air about it, either. If the writer's bored, pity the poor reader.

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Thank goodness Butler finally switched to working on the fantasy novel he was actually excited about before his gritty gun-toting thriller hero nearly killed him. Anyway, "write what you love" seems like basic advice, but it's something many writers ignore to their cost.

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DISCUSSION

Anekanta
Anekanta - spoon denier

Good advice in any career. Do what you love. Make the thing you think is missing from the world—the thing you yourself would use and enjoy.