Indie Publishing – Writing For The 21st Century …by Susan Lute

Steam punk girl with Typewriter.

You can tell Donald Maass’ workshop had a big impact. He left those who attended with a lot to think about, and this is where my thoughts took me. Writing for the 21st Century. What does that look like?

It will come as no surprise that I watched You’ve Got Mail yesterday. No, I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but like most of the films I watch over and over, there’s something new to learn each time, besides the fact I enjoy them as much or more as the first time. If there’s anyone following this blog who hasn’t watched it, which I find very hard to believe by-the-way, I’ll try not to give too much away.

There’s one line that caught my attention. Fox Books, owned by Tom Hanks’ character, Joe, opens “just around the corner” from Kathleen’s – played charmingly by Meg Ryan – independent children’s book store, effectively putting her out of business. During the course of the movie Joe says to her, “It wasn’t…personal.” Her response (paraphrased), and I love it, “What’s so wrong with being personal, anyway? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” Suddenly that makes so much sense to me.

The Mr. is a political geek. It’s personal to him. Having some kind of faith is personal. Writing has probably always been a personal endeavor, but in today’s world with so many on the internet, and with the popularity of Indie books, readers don’t always make a personal connection with the author. In my humble opinion it’s more important than ever to take your writing to the next level. That’s what Donald Maass’ newest book, Writing 21st Century Fiction, says to me. Get personal, put yourself into your story, don’t give your reader what they expect, give them what they don’t expect.

What a fascinating concept. Give your reader something they don’t expect. Make it personal.

How? Pick up Writing 21st Century Fiction. It’s an eye opener.

I’m setting a goal so you all will keep me honest. I’m working on the second book in my Falling For A Hero series. I’ve written 17,664 words. It’ll finish up at 50K, so I’m coming up on the mid-point of the story. But I’m back at the beginning adding layers of internal conflict to make it more personal, for me, and hopefully for readers. At the end of April I’m going on a two week vacation. By the time I leave – yes, I’ll be taking the baby Dell – I want to be at 25K. Doable I think, but the more important thing will be the unfolding of the story. Can I do it? Heck yes!

Will you join me in making a writing (or reading) goal that you can reach by the end of April? The busy lady loves company.


About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on March 25, 2013, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Well said, Susan. I plan to be finished with What the Silent Woman Screamed.


  2. Yes, I want in on making a goal for the end of April! I’m working on an erotic coming of age novella, tentatively titled Auntie Vamp. I’m currently at 5500 words. I want 25,000 words!

    I hope I can do it!


  3. There is a way around this, and I intend to discover it 😀


  4. Thanks to Donald Maass, I’m revising my book from the beginning. My heroine is not right. Thanks to Donald, I know think I know why and I’m trying to fix her. That was a fabulous workshop and the book is well worth buying and reading.



  5. Your comment: “…in today’s world with so many on the internet, and with the popularity of Indie books, readers don’t always make a personal connection with the author” is so true of the Internet world. Though I get comments on my blog or in twitter, they are usually non-descript and in many cases repeats of comments made on previous blogs, as if the poster is simply checking in out of duty, but determined not to engage.

    In contrast, I did a book signing and author meet and greet at Jan’s Paperbacks Saturday evening along with seven other authors. I had an amazing time, and the connections were real and sustained for several minutes. I’m estimating that nearly 200 people came through the doors during the two hour time frame. It was magical connecting with current fans and with new readers.

    This is why I will continue to do book signings and/or readings, even though the number of books sold is small compared to the time spent at these events. I understand most people read my books on the e-reader or tablet device, but that doesn’t mean they are unwilling to engage. The personal connection is important to me. Laughing in shared companionship, talking about books that move me and the readers, being able to point a reader to a book they might like (even if it’s not mine). Actually shaking hands, or touching an arm is so much more intimate and bonding than a pithy response to twitter or a “The book sounds interesting” response to a blog post.

    I realize our lives in this technological world are more crowded than ever, and electronic communication allows us to quickly take care of business and to briefly dispatch our “social” duty. However, I also believe that our use of technology gives a false sense of real connection, when in actuality we are purposefully distancing ourselves from emotional involvement–from getting too entangled in something that may take longer than 30 seconds or a minute. Though I understand the desire to be brief, I find it sad on a personal level.

    As I writer, I engage my emotions with every novel and I hope to draw those out of readers. Though some people can, and do, take the time to share themselves electronically, most do not. For me, it is in those face-to-face opportunities at bookstores and in libraries that I revel in the connection to readers–to people who love books as much as I do and who draw books and their authors into their daily lives in countless ways.


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