Beyond Blinders



"There's a whole other world out there ," my agent told me a while back. She was reminding me of other possibilities, which authors in my (or any) genre totally ignore. Limited by our own successes, however modest, we fail to consider other ways of earning a living and finding creative fulfillment.

It feels safer, sticking with the area we know, and getting to really understand and master our own small pond feels manageable. But it's limiting as well, which is one reason I make it a point to read broadly. My list of favorite books includes historical nonfiction, memoir, lots of mystery/suspense, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and let's not forget romance.

But for a long time, it never occurred to me that I could learn valuable lessons from authors in other areas of writing beyond my chosen genre. I was very wrong on that score, and in the past few years I've broadened my horizons with literary techniques borrowed from screenwriting (thanks, Chris Vogler), gleaned in college English class (and Flannery O'Connor), or picked up from wise and eloquent thriller writers on the 'net (love your blog, Tess Gerritsen).

Interestingly, however, I meet a lot of authors in my genre who seem content with blinders. As incoming program chair/VP of my area RWA chapter, I'm hoping to let in a little light by inviting some prominent speakers from (gasp!) other areas of creative writing. Because strong dialogue is strong dialogue, great characterization great characterization, and the fine art of wresting a living from the world of words is a miracle worth celebrating!

So who are the best speakers/teachers on writing you're heard or read in the last few years? Or what classics have helped you untie some knotty writing problem?

Comments

Suzan Harden said…
Hmmm... I think Homer is out unless you happen to have Bill and Ted's time machine. But I then I'd have to learn ancient Greek, and I suck at other languages.

What about Haywood Smith ("The Red Hat Club") or Kim Harrison ("Dead Witch Walking"), ladies who are in RWA but don't necessarily write the usual romance?
Diana Driver said…
Colleen,
One of the writing elements that thrilled and impressed me in your book, Triple Threat, was how you smoothly you segued from literary writing to genre writing. The transition was so subtle and so masterful that it took my breath away. I don't think I've ever read such a perfect combination of the best of both worlds.

You've raised the bar - that's for sure.

Congratulations on a job well done!!

Diana L. Driver
Thanks so much for the suggestions, Suzan!

And thanks to you, too, Diana, for the very kind words on Triple Exposure! So glad to hear that you enjoyed the book!