I Do What I Want

7:59 PM


Yep, bring on the Loki gif.

funny loki thor fangirl loki laufeyson

Today we're gonna get rebellious. Because that never happens around here.

I wanna talk about a thing. This thing is the idea that there are dos and don'ts to writing different genres, that there's one way to approach writing a story, that there are wrong ways to write a story.

You know what I think about that?

"How to write a fantasy novel." "Dos and don'ts of writing a successful sci-fi story." You see that? Throw that stuff into the cold heart of space. 

Actually, no. Do what you want, as I'm saying here. But you get the point. 

By now you've probably realized that this whole blog is basically me ranting on and on about stereotypes and cliches and the problems with (most) YA books, so it should come as no surprise when I say that I think we have a problem with sticking to the norm, being afraid to write unique things, genre-bending things, things that don't fit the way you should write a [insert genre here] story.

Some of my favorite stories ever cross genres and go weird places and do it well. Firefly is a glorious mish-mash of cowboys and space and Chinese lingo and it's flawless. The Lunar Chronicles retells fairy tales in a hard sci-fi setting and that works too. Railsea smashes together Moby Dick, steampunk trains, and giant creatures that live under the earth. Slaughterhouse-Five takes a random dude in WWI and throws him into a non-linear mess of aliens and warped time and imprisonment. These things are weird. They work. 

There is no one way to write any genre. 

So I guess the point of this rant is, do what you want? Don't bother asking "is this too weird?" Just write the thing. You'll find people who will love it, because people love unique. Writing is all about breaking rules, testing limits, finding new ways to say things.

I mean, I can't tell you what to do, but whatever. 

Sometimes I get insecure because my story ideas seem so out there that how could they be anything but dumb? Who on earth wants to read them? Is it even a real steampunk novel? 

What's a real steampunk novel, anyway? 

I don't think we should be afraid to write weird stuff, or experiment, or mash genres. Please do. I'm trying my best because we've worn the usual, the stereotypes, absolutely ragged and I don't have much patience for them anymore. Don't stress about something being too cliche, or too stereotypical, or too out-there, or too distant from any one genre, because that doesn't matter. You've brought your own unique spin to the story you have to tell, and you should flaunt it. Because you're cool like this. I need to hear this all the time so I consider this a note to myself, too. 

Basically: 


25 comments

  1. Yeeeesssss, this so much! I feel that there's a lot of pressure on writers to stick to what has been done before because that's been a success in the past, but definitely trying new things can end up in such amazing books. Get creative! And more steampunk please. Cause I haven't seen much yet unfortunately.

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    1. Exactly! We need more steampunk, and I'm not sure why people aren't doing it. Sigh.

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  2. Ha ha, now I don't feel so bad about the fact that basically none of my stories fit into one genre. I like to tell myself it's because I'm being unique and different and things, and not because I'm scatterbrained and want to write about spaceships AND magic, ALL AT ONCE.

    Heaven forbid we should restrict our potential by confining ourselves to one solitary genre. LONG LIVE THE NONCONFORMISTS!

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  3. I mash runaways and freight trains in a vaguely dystopian sci-fi. I think that my modern fantasy probably incorporates elements of children's bedtime tales. I mash a magic maze with both a quasi-military organization and vicious royalty in different stories: the royalty takes place two hundred years in the future. Mermaids and action? Let's go for it.

    Basically, I love this post, for a lot of different reasons.

    Additionally: resource if you need to write fighting scenes.

    http://howtofightwrite.tumblr.com/

    Fair warning - may contain curses, but they're very thourough and know their stuff.

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  4. So would you say that it's possible to have a Medieval-ish steampunk story that also has magic and dragons...?

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  5. I think everyone needs this thrown at their faces sometimes. As someone writing a YA about teenagers with powers, I worry about this all the time even though I know I shouldn't. I mean, this is such an overused topic, but you know what? I don't caaaare. We all need reminding of this sometimes.

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    1. Exactly! You can take something that's been "done before" and spin it into something totally unique! Do what you want. Own it.

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  6. THANK YOU I needed this right now. Like, really needed it. (no, not just the Loki gif, the whole thing) :)

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  7. Weird stories are the best stories :)

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  8. I can totally get this on the one hand, because like, don't let rules hold back your creativity, man. DON'T LET THEM. JUST DON'T. But at the same time, rules are there for a reason, and sometimes they're good reasons. I'm reading this really sad excuse for a book right now who has a prologue featuring the evil, evil king announcing that he is about to set his evil plan in motion (and he almost uses those exact words, and this is supposed to be YA) and yet, in general, I know that prologues are kind of discouraged among fantasy writers just because they either prove unnecessary or ridiculous. That doesn't mean that you can't pull it off, and I have read several fantasy books with amazing prologues, but I think that without knowing the rules it might be tricky to hold oneself to a certain level of quality if you don't even know you're writing badly.

    Of course, that is editing! And I get the feeling this is, in great portion, about the first drafts when you are creating. And not copyediting or something. There is only one way to spell pan. Probably. In English, anyway.

    I'll stop now.

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    1. There's a quote out there that's basically "know the rules first, so you can break them well" and I think that's basically my life motto. xD I do think it's important to be aware of what you're doing and the general "rules", so breaking them is a conscious choice and for a reason! But with that in mind -- I loveeee experimenting, and some of my favorite stories totally bend rules in a way I love.

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  9. *applauds* I agree... to a point. I think sometimes rules are for a reason and unless you really know what you're doing it's a good idea to just stick to the rules. Like show don't tell. Some rules say don't write weird genres, which I agree is stupid, but I think other rules should be followed.

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    1. That makes sense! There are some rules that you should know, but I personally believe that if you know the rules well and have a reason for breaking them, that's AWESOME. I'm a rebel. xD

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  10. *throws confetti* Finally! Someone who shares my point of view. Yay!

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    1. *dances in confetti, brings out cake*

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  11. Love this! So I've been thinking about this a lot recently in terms of language? I write high fantasy and my fantasy world is kinda ish loosely based on 17th century ish Britain ish (it really isn't, as you can tell, but I'm trying my best, OK?). So this leads me to questions about language. One thing that really annoys me in Game of Thrones series (which I love into eternity, but still) is the Americanisms. Martin's obviously going for a medieval British vibe with archaic terms like "mayhaps" and "leal", but theeen he shoves a "gotten" in there and I'm like mate. Get a British editor PLEASE. (I'd do it!)

    I worry about modernisms in my book? They say "hey" but they don't say "OK" or "cool". But I don't know whether by not letting them say these things, I compromise their teen-ness? Or whether if I put these things in, it would compromise the book's historical-y vibe? But, am I just sticking too closely to conventions of high fantasy? THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS I MUST ASK.

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  12. Today I'm slowly catching up on your blog because I'm SO BEHIND reading it. xD But I never want to skip any of your posts, because I enjoy them!! (I somehow am always behind in the blogs I follow, haha!)

    I just want to make a quick comment here that I SO agree with this point. Genre tropes are worn out, anyway. Bending genres is always more interesting.

    And I LOVE Firefly oh gosh. Sci-fi + western. It's a perfect example of how this works.

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hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.