Working on Difference
The writing process starts with an idea...well, if you want to be philosophical, the process really starts with the desire to write...or perhaps the writer's birth. Or conception. But anyway. My ideas sometimes come out of my head, randomly, the desire to write about a particular action in an interesting way, or a particular sort of character, or a particular setting. More often, the desire to write and thus the idea are sparked by a call for submissions. When I said I sold most of what I wrote, part of the reason is that I am often writing to a specific market, which helps improve my chances. Taking that initial idea and identifying the approach that will make it different from most of the other submissions, or at least more appealing to the editor, is the harder part.
Setting is one thing, as I mentioned before. So far, I have written and sold stories set in a spaceship in the middle of a war; a science fictional vacation satellite; a futuristic prison planet inhabited by giant people-eating turtles; an aid station in World War One; a fairy tale land with sea monster; the ancient Greek mythological world; and a pseudo-historical version of France. I'm waiting to hear if my cowboy story sold. [ETA: It sold.]
And now, thinking about it, I am not sure how I chose some of those approaches...I think it has to do with me liking genre. Whenever I see an opportunity to write a genre story, I take it. I could write a story about a girl on vacation, or I could write it about a girl on vacation In Space. Easy decision. If I happen to be doing research for a bigger project, as I am with WWI, why not use that research for a short erotica piece? In fact, why not use it more than once? [hmmm...]
As for characters, I like to vary them in their basics as well as in their more esoteric qualities. "Twisted Beauty" features a man with paralyzed legs; "Worship" an older couple, one of whom is becoming crippled with arthritis. The story can be more intensely involving if the characters have something specific to overcome. It needn't even be the obvious. In "Worship," declining physical condition was part of the problem, but the protagonist's own doubts were even more so. Trusting her partner, and herself, was the solution. In "Twisted Beauty," the protagonist's paralysis wasn't the issue for him as much as continuing with his sex life as it had been before, finding someone who would see him not as a cripple but as a man, who, incidentally, enjoyed a little domination.
Next time, I think I'll natter a bit on uses of different kinds of writing styles.