Stop Writing Books About Manhattan
Stop writing books about Manhattan.

I know, I know. Your creative writing teachers told you to write what you know, and all you know is how to find cheap apartments, go to parties, and complain about how your boss at the fashion magazine is really a jerk. What your creative writing teachers didn't tell you is that we're all sick of hearing about Manhattan. People in Manhattan do not have interesting problems. They are the most overrepresented voice in all of literature.

Here is a piece of free writing advice. The next time you think of a book to write to pay off your furrier's bills, do all the prep work just like you'd normally do. Develop characters, decide on their problems (Dissatisfied with job? Life? Does a relative die? Are they 25 and suddenly realize that songs aren't written FOR them anymore? WRITING IS AN ADVENTURE.) Steal dialogue-writing tricks from a few good movies or your favorite Sex and the City episode. (Mine is the one where they all fall in love with the same gourmet chef and then join a health spa and then the one with blond hair develops a heroin problem.)

Then, once you've done all that, just change the setting to a rotting WWII-era bunker in the middle of the Sahara and imagine what happens! Everything else can stay exactly the same, and reviewers will call you a genius and then sell your book to buy a hot meal.

Let's be honest: the literary market is clogged right now. Too many books about Manhattan are being published. The only way out is to set the whole thing in the Sahara desert. You don't have any other options here. You don't. You've tried inauthentic voices and failed, and no one wants to listen to your authentic voice. Your authentic voice is either shrill or it's cloying and no one wants to hear how beautiful all the people on the subway are anymore.

The desert is the only answer for you.

In other news, open submissions coming soon. You know what I want to see.

Posted by future on Fri, 29 Feb 2008 11:50:49 -0500 -- permanent link

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