I’ve been preparing for a while now for the upcoming Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, at which I’ll be pitching my novel (set in the same world as my story “Spies and Taboos”). One of the questions in the numerous “How to Pitch to an Agent” type articles has always been a bit difficult for me to answer, not because I had no answer, but because I had too many. It took quite a while for me to come up with a concise answer that I actually felt reflected my own writing. So I wanted to discuss the question What kind of writer are you? and why the answer really is important.
Let’s start with the obvious: why ask this question of writers at all? It’s an important question that a serious writer should be able to answer quickly. It means you’ve examined your own work and are able to put it in its appropriate place among the greater writing conversation. For agents it’s especially important because if you don’t know what kind of writer you are, how are they supposed to know if they’re the correct fit for you. With very little time or space to convey why they should pick you, a clear answer gives them a sense of you as a writer.
For the longest time, this question was very difficult for me to answer because I write in so many different styles. I have some comedic works, some extremely dramatic works, science fiction, high fantasy, urban fantasy, random weird things that are difficult to categorize. How did I condense all that down into a single answer that didn’t ramble on and on?
It was actually when I first began this blog that I figured out the answer. When trying to find a theme to write around, I realized that what connects all my different styles and genres was the fact I was a world builder. Whether it was science fiction or high fantasy or urban fantasy, and the tone within the story, was entirely dependent on the world I created around the characters and the story.
One of the biggest jokes between in my writing group is the fact I can’t write short, because I always want to go out and experience the worlds I create and tell all the stories there. It’s why many of the short stories I write are character back story rather than stand alone pieces that exist outside these worlds. And even when I do write a standalone story, like I’d intended to with “A Cure for Homesickness,” a world grows up around it wanting to be explored.
In preparation for the conference, I’ve further refined my answer to be, I’m a character-driven world builder. In one of my creative writing classes I said, “If literary fiction is the study of the self, fantasy and science fiction are the study of how our world affects and influences us.” I think that says more about me as a writer than anything else. I love to change the world or create a new one with new rules and then set the characters loose to developed within that world. I love to see what could be if things were just a little (or a lot) different.
That’s my answer to the question, What kind of writer are you? Comment below and tell me what yours is.