Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Finding Your Fiction "Sweet Spot" by Marie Wells Coutu

“We want 19th century prairie romances.”
“No 19th century prairie romances. But we do want Amish.”
“I’m interested in seeing World War II settings.”
“Please don’t submit anything related to World War II.”

Do the fast-changing trends in publishing frustrate you? Are you struggling to keep up or to decide what to write? Have I got a deal for you: your own personal Make-A-Novel Board. You can create it yourself:

Marie Wells Coutu

Draw a card like you would use to play Bingo (or find one online). Fill the squares with various options, such as a time period, a genre (romance, suspense, sci-fi, Amish, etc.), or a setting (prairie, small town, city, England, etc.). Get at least 3 coins, put the card on the floor, close your eyes, and drop the coins one at a time. Open your eyes and voila, you have the makings for your next best-selling novel!

You might wind up with an Amish sci-fi set in Hungary, but hey, it’s about as scientific as the industry. And about as helpful as chasing the trends.

Here are some more realistic ways to decide what type of novel you should be writing:

Literary Bingo
  • List your five favorite novels of all time. What do they have in common?
  • What activities do you choose when you travel? If you prefer historical museums, you might be a historical author. If you like taking the ghost tours, suspense may be right up your alley (but watch out for the surprise around the corner). Go for the parasailing, scuba diving, or surfing? Try your hand at writing adventure novels.
  • Do you have a favorite place (or places)? Maybe it’s your hometown, maybe it’s a mountain cabin or a vibrant big city. A ranch in Texas or an island off the coast of Maine? Or some place in your imagination (for you sci-fi and fantasy authors)?
In other words, stop trying to find the “next big thing” and focus instead on what you love. That’s where you’ll find your passion and your best stories.

I started writing contemporary novels set in places I knew well—Minneapolis, Charleston, and Nashville (with Guatemala, which I’ve never visited, thrown in for good measure). I love those stories and enjoyed re-imagining biblical women as characters in those locations. And, confession time: I didn’t think I could write historical because I might get the details wrong.

But once I realized how much research was needed even for those books and admitted that I love the research, I decided to switch to historical. My current work-in-progress is located in a region of western Kentucky that has been on my heart since my college days. It’s an area rich with history and peopled with figurative ghosts of interesting characters. I’m loving exploring the psyche of its former residents and bringing them back to life in my book (and making notes of ideas for future books using the same settings).

Yes, I’m breaking with the advice of sticking with one genre until you are established. But I am willing to take that risk. Most of the novels I’ve read that have stuck with me have been historical, so I think I have found my “sweet spot.”

And if historical isn’t in great demand right now, I’m okay with that. It will come back around.

Join the conversation: What led you to the genre or setting you’re writing in? Have you found your “sweet spot” or are you still searching?

About the Author
Marie Wells Coutu’s novels often deal with characters who suffer from Imposter Syndrome. At least, they worry that if their secrets are discovered, their lives will change drastically.

Her latest release, The Secret Heart, is a modern reimagining of Bathsheba and David’s story, featuring the governor and first lady of Tennessee. Keeping their secret is destroying their marriage, but revealing it could mean the end of any political career. Find out more at myBook.to/TheSecretHeart, visit Marie’s website at www.MarieWellsCoutu.com where she shares devotional thoughts regularly, or follow her on Facebook at Marie Wells Coutu, Author.

The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu
The Secret Heart

Beautiful Shawna Moore married Hunter Wilson, the governor of Tennessee, after a whirlwind romance, only six weeks following her first husband’s death in Iraq. Now, she wonders if the governor loved her at all or only hoped to avoid a scandal.

An investigative reporter—and friend of Shawna’s—is asking questions. If he discovers the truth about Shawna’s baby, Hunter’s chances for reelection could be ruined. But keeping the secret is destroying their marriage. Will Shawna convince Hunter to choose his family and drop out of politics, or will he continue to put his career first?

For a sneak peek, download the first chapter here.