Put Your Writing in the Right Box

PUT YOUR WRITING IN THE RIGHT BOX. Maybe you’re wondering what that means, exactly? Well, let me explain.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that a writer has to “know their audience.” It’s a topic for heated debate. Literary fic writers love to say that “anyone can enjoy their books.” If you love romance, suspense, magic, and everything else under the sun – says the literary fic writer – then you’re going to love MY book.

But that’s not the way the cookie crumbles. People like to have things divided neatly into categories: boxed up in clean and pretty receptacles that hold the things they love. But they don’t want everything in ONE box.


For example, say one of your favorite foods is steak. Say your other favorite food is pea soup. But if someone poured pea soup all over your steak, and then said “Bon appétit,” you’d be a little mad, right? You’d be like – what the hell? Why did you just pour pea soup on my friggin’ steak?


Most people don’t just like one type of book. In fact, most people love many types of books. But they still only want to read one kind at a time. Maybe they’re in the mood for a thriller – or maybe they’re craving a passionate romance. They want to know what they’re reaching for on the shelf, so they can satisfy their craving quickly.

But I learned that the hard way. In the past, I wrote for a small and singular audience: ME. The problem is, most people’s tastes and preferences don’t match up EXACTLY with mine. This isn’t to say that, every now and then, I don’t find someone who really enjoys one of my old books. It also doesn’t erase the literary merit of old work. I’m only saying that, if you want to be commercially successful – and trust me, I haven’t managed that yet! – you have to cater to the needs of your audience.

I’ve always written stories with a lesbian-based theme. If you’re a lesbian, you’re going to want to write books with main characters who are lesbians. That just brings you back to the basic adage, WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.

But I was a little too all-over-the-place. I had too many sub-genres, and my work was too heavily influenced by classic literature. My favorite author has always been Charles Dickens, so my writing style, as a younger person, was very old-fashioned.

Now, don’t get me wrong – some people still love ‘em some good old classic lit. But other people don’t care for it all that much. And you have to WRITE FOR YOUR AUDIENCE. So I worked long and hard at simplifying, and clarifying, my writing style.

Now, as an author, you can’t forget to READ WHAT YOUR WRITE. If you’re writing a thriller, read some hair-raising thrillers. If you’re writing a romance, read some sizzling romances. Let the voices of other talented authors, who have already managed to become commercially successful, guide your own writer’s voice.


Recently, I’ve been reading The Chess Machine by Robert Löhr. It’s a historical novel about the famed Mechanical Turk, an amazing chess-playing automaton that was eventually proven to be a hoax. The book I’m finishing up at the moment is a historical mystery, and The Chess Machine has helped a lot with getting me focused and centered.

So, to sum it all up:

  1. Simplify your writing style. Make it clean and easy to get lost in. (And, by the way – I don’t mean “clean” as in kid-friendly. Most adults don’t want to read novels that their own kids could read. A little sex and violence thrown in for spices is only going to help, as long as you don’t overdo it.)
  2. Select a major genre that you can have fun with, and stick with it. Don’t be afraid to throw in your own creative touches — but make sure that the genre is clear-cut. Personally, I’ve decided to go with murder mysteries. The main characters are still lesbians, but the genre is, as we said, clear-cut.

How do LESBIAN MURDER MYSTERIES sound to you? It’s mildly intriguing, right? The trick is, I think, to still try and be original, but to not be so original that no one knows what the hell you’re doing.


And that about wraps it up, my friends. I hope I’ve touched on a few important subjects, without merely repeating what fifty million other people have already told you.


Thanks for reading!



25 thoughts on “Put Your Writing in the Right Box

    1. Palhao, what a great name and what an excellent blogger this person is. Would like your input on a few of my stories from one artist to the others. We need a Palhao at Gastradamus and would love for you to be our first. Keep it up.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful post, C.M.!! I haven´t been aware of this, but I think you´re right – most people do want their different genres neatly seperated from each other. Me, not so much, I´m afraid;) It´s the same with music for me: I kind of love it when the artists mix many different things together and create something wonderful and new (for example MUSE or DeVotchka, if you know them). And I really get thrilled when a novel has it all! But as you said, most people don´t and although it is important that you write for yourself in the first place, it´s also important to write for your audience. I´m sure you´ll manage it perfectly though!
    (Oh, I forgot to mention: I do love the classics like Dickens, Collins, Flaubert (which I´m just reading) but I´m highly aware to belong to a minority here;) )
    Have a lovely sunday! Sarah xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thanks Sarah! Personally, I agree with you — I love things all mixed up and fun, with a little bit of everything. But I learned the tough way most people aren’t the same! Ah, well. All’s well that ends well, as they say. Thank you so much for commenting! I always love to hear from you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi! So sorry for not getting back earlier! Thank you very much! I really like C.M. work and insight 🙂 Of course, I´d love to read your stories! 😀 Getting there as soon as I can. Wish you a lovely day! Sarah

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so much Miss Gentileschi, we would really like your comment on “The Bald and the Brestless” and ” Why servers with less makeup are more enjoyable to snuggle with”.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a simplistic yet fasionable piece. I felt like I was actually jn your head while I was reading this. Our community at Gastradamus would really like you to comment on our stories. We need intelligent people like you to check out are site.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We are still waiting at Gastradamus for your feedback on, “Why servers with less makeup are more enjoyable to snuggle with” and the new and refreshing “The young and the brestlesa”. We would admire your critique and please let it be known in the comment section that way your voice will be heard and it will generate more success at Gastradamus

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you may have a point. It’s probably still possible to have a book that straddles two different genres, but I do think it runs the risk of leaving readers feeling a bit baffled by it all. Anyway, I’m now off to enjoy my steak in a pea soup sauce. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the follow. I read and write a little of everything, so I must be on the right path. Technically, I try to stay between historical fiction and post apocalyptic, but I do tend to stray when I have a great story idea that doesn’t fit either side…so, when people ask me what I wrote, I tend to tell them that I mainly write fiction. it tends to quiet most of them down. But, when pressed, I tell them that I have written horror and suspense as well as fantasy, science fiction, and adventure, but right now I am working on a historical fiction series spanning over fifty years. In between, I write on a dystopian/post apocalyptic series to let history rest for a while. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds awesome. Sounds like, though you like to mix your genres, you stick with the ones that mix well together (like rum and coke.) Thanks so much for stopping by to share! Looking forward to interacting. 🙂


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