01 March 2011

one Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight please...

Well here goes...I've probably built this up so much I'm destined to disappoint. But anyhoo...

When I decided a little while ago that I wanted to write....er-well, let me rephrase: when Maribeth told me that I'm good at writing and I need to write something, I obviously gave it a lot of thought. I thought the obvious ups, downs, ins and outs and came to the conclusion, "oh heck why not?" That was the easy part.

The next step was trying to decide what type of book I was going to write. People say to write what you know and that's fine if you're talking about experiences and specifics of story, but when it comes to the genre, I think it's a more challenging process. because if and when you break into the published world, you need to sell your books in that genre...your books sell your books, not your name. When you get good enough that your name can sell your books, then you can experiment with different genres. ok- back on track...

I didn't really know where to start, but I came to the conclusion that the best stuff to write is the stuff you read. So I went to my bookshelf. I saw a lot of reference stuff about mythology, how things work, history, etc...Then I saw my Michael Chrichton section, Sherlock Holmes, science fiction and fantasy. Then I saw all of those old, crappy (yet fun) Choose Your Own Adventure books... There was a lot of books- tons of books and almost as many different authors and dozens of different genres and sub-genres. So I decided to give it a try: write what I read. I started writing an adventure novel for adults. Then I started a dark thriller. Then a fantasy novel. The list went on and on... However, I noticed something. I kept finding that with each new venture, I was writing for readers who were younger and younger, but something still didn't click. I knew I wanted to write for young adults or younger, but I couldn't find that something to confirm it; to solidify it. 

Then something happened. Something magical.

I rediscovered Roald Dahl. It all started at the library, where I happened across an audio book of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After that is was The BFG and Esio Trot, Henry Sugar, Danny Champion of the World, MatildaThe Enormous Crocodile. Then I picked up The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me and I couldn't get enough. I read that story over and over. I felt like Charlie after he had found the money in the gutter and went into the sweet shop all beside himself and overjoyed. "One Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight please, sir." Here was an author whom I hadn't read since childhood; lost in the annals of my own history only to be rediscovered at a time when I seemed to need it. Sounds cliche, I know....but it was thrilling.

It felt right. I decided then that I wanted to write in the genre that I found to be the most enjoyable. I wanted to write for kids. Sure I've read sci-fi books and mystery novels, fantasy and nonfiction and I've liked them. I've closed many books completely satisfied, but I was never truly excited. Rediscovering Dahl was my moment of enlightenment. The snozzberries finally tasted like snozzberries.

So that's my bit of knowledge: look at your own shelves. See what you've read and try to remember how you felt after you read it. If you don't remember, reread it. Then write in the genre that gets you the most excited. The genre that makes you feel...well...like Charlie.


  1. good thinking. very helpful. having a bit of trouble with this one myself. keep going back and forth over this myself. thanks :D

  2. no problem. I'm glad my sharing has helped. I did struggle a lot with this and from what i can gather, this is the best approach. Just keep in mind the bit about "when you break into the published world, you need to sell your books in that genre..." If the good graces do come your way and you're asked to do it again, make sure you're able...and willing.