As promised, today I am happy to bring to you a guest post, written by Bram Stoker award-winning author Mark McLaughlin. I was thrilled when Mark graciously accepted my invitation to post, and I hope you enjoy his writing advice as much as I did.
Without further ado, I bring you--
What Will You Write Next…?
by Mark McLaughlin
These days, the world of horror literature is filled with zombie books. I know this because I’m one of the authors who have contributed to the current glut of undead literature. Last year, Wildside Press released my story collection, BEACH BLANKET ZOMBIE. People have asked me if I wrote that book expressly to capitalize on the current zombie trend. Honestly, the answer is “No”: the stories in the book were written over a period of around 17 years. I’ve been writing about zombies long before the trend ever began.
Mind you, I’m not complaining about all the other authors who have chosen to write zombie books. I enjoy creating zombie stories and wouldn’t want to deny any other writers that pleasure. Based on conversations and emails with other authors, I know that many writers have written zombie books simply to jump on the undead bandwagon. But, I’m not complaining about those folks, either. Everyone should be able to write whatever they want to write. In fact, that’s the point of this blog entry: everyone should write what they WANT to write.
Now, let’s say you don’t really WANT to write a zombie book, and you’re only thinking about doing it because you want to ride the current trend. If that’s the case … well, you probably shouldn’t do it. For one thing, the trend is already on the downswing, and by the time you finish your book, the trend will probably be deader than a zombie’s brainless victim. Plus, if you’re not really into the topic you’re tackling, it won’t be your best work.
My most recent book is BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM, a collection of Mythos-inspired horror stories, and I wrote it because I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing stories of cosmic horror. Do I think that cosmic horror is, or will become, a huge national trend? No: it’s too complex of a subgenre and definitely too much of an acquired taste. But hey, lots of people do like it … there’s certainly a readership for it … so that makes it a win-win situation for me. It’s a subgenre I enjoy writing about and that others enjoy reading.
With all that in mind, you may now be thinking: “I like a lot of different genres and subgenres. If I don’t jump on the zombie trend, what trend should I jump on?”
My answer is this: If you must jump on a trend, do some research and find a trend that speaks to you. A trend that excites you. Or, forget about trends and write whatever the hell you want! Who knows, you may write something that will initiate the next big trend, whatever it might be. Every trend has to start somewhere, and maybe what you create will become popular and inspire other authors, because you wrote it with passion and sincerity.
I will add this cautionary note: If you do decide to write within the boundaries of a trend, make sure you are well-read within that trend and its genre, so you don’t end up reinventing everyone else’s plotlines. Fans of that trend will be able to tell if you’re faking it, and they’ll be disappointed if you get any of the details wrong, so do plenty of research. Also, push yourself to be innovative and energetic. If you add something new to the trend and do it with enthusiasm, readers will pick up on that energy and truly enjoy your work.
Good luck -- and get to work! The next big thing ain’t gonna write itself!
-- End --
About Mark McLaughlin: Mark's fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in more than 1,000 magazines, newspapers, websites, and anthologies, including GALAXY, FANGORIA, LIVING DEAD 2, WRITER'S DIGEST, CEMETERY DANCE, MIDNIGHT PREMIERE, DARK ARTS, and two volumes of THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES (DAW Books). His latest releases are the story collection, BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM, the two-author poetry collection, REVENGE OF THE TWO-HEADED POETRY MONSTER (with Michael McCarty), and the story collection BEACH BLANKET ZOMBIE. Feel free to visit Mark on Facebook at www.facebook.com/markmclaughlinmedia.