You are what you write....

A present for Kirsten

Hello. My name is Paul and I'm an author...ish!

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I've previously commented about the risk of a writer being trapped by the genre in which they achieve success, but I was wondering how much what we write reflects our characters. We might not look like our books but do they represent what we believe and dream about?

Recently, I've been re-reading my five Cornish Detective novels, partly to assess the effect of weeks of editing, as well as to bolster my confidence that they're worth publishing. I'm about to begin another round of querying, so thought it vital that I know my 'product' inside out.

I've tackled various crimes in my stories, including murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, burglary, arson, slavery, prostitution, theft, forgery, drug running, gun running and illegal distillation of alcohol. Researching these things means I'm now equipped to become a master criminal! :eek: The most surprising fact was that cannibalism isn't against the law in the U.K.

Eating people is wrong, but is it against the law?

True crime and fictional crime stories have long been sources of entertainment, dating right back to the mid-16th-century in the UK, when literacy rates improved and printing became more efficient. Tales of crime appeared in affordable pamphlet form, often with a moral message.

Nowadays, with my own writing, I could easily self-publish my books online to a potentially large audience of readers...provided I cracked the dreaded marketing needed to make them aware they exist. How much of a moral message my stories contain is hard for me to judge. It's inevitable that part of me is reflected in the thoughts and actions of my characters...the goodies and the baddies!

It's long been said, that 'You are what you eat' so I wondered if You are what you write. The Chinese have a proverb that says “见文如见人,” which literally means “Reading the document is the same as seeing the author.” This is what we might call our writer's voice. One's personal characteristics seep into the language we use.

Crime novelist P.D. James said, "What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order." That's what my main character seeks to achieve in the criminal investigations he runs. Ultimately, he's after peace of mind—which is something I seek. Happiness is all very well, but it's transient; long-term contentment is better.

Does the genre you write in allow you to express who you are?

What messages about society do you try to get across?

what-we-gonna-write.gif
 
I've previously commented about the risk of a writer being trapped by the genre in which they achieve success, but I was wondering how much what we write reflects our characters. We might not look like our books but do they represent what we believe and dream about?

Recently, I've been re-reading my five Cornish Detective novels, partly to assess the effect of weeks of editing, as well as to bolster my confidence that they're worth publishing. I'm about to begin another round of querying, so thought it vital that I know my 'product' inside out.

I've tackled various crimes in my stories, including murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, burglary, arson, slavery, prostitution, theft, forgery, drug running, gun running and illegal distillation of alcohol. Researching these things means I'm now equipped to become a master criminal! :eek: The most surprising fact was that cannibalism isn't against the law in the U.K.

Eating people is wrong, but is it against the law?

True crime and fictional crime stories have long been sources of entertainment, dating right back to the mid-16th-century in the UK, when literacy rates improved and printing became more efficient. Tales of crime appeared in affordable pamphlet form, often with a moral message.

Nowadays, with my own writing, I could easily self-publish my books online to a potentially large audience of readers...provided I cracked the dreaded marketing needed to make them aware they exist. How much of a moral message my stories contain is hard for me to judge. It's inevitable that part of me is reflected in the thoughts and actions of my characters...the goodies and the baddies!

It's long been said, that 'You are what you eat' so I wondered if You are what you write. The Chinese have a proverb that says “见文如见人,” which literally means “Reading the document is the same as seeing the author.” This is what we might call our writer's voice. One's personal characteristics seep into the language we use.

Crime novelist P.D. James said, "What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order." That's what my main character seeks to achieve in the criminal investigations he runs. Ultimately, he's after peace of mind—which is something I seek. Happiness is all very well, but it's transient; long-term contentment is better.

Does the genre you write in allow you to express who you are?

What messages about society do you try to get across?

what-we-gonna-write.gif
Barnaby, Poirot, Montalbano, Vera, Colombo, Miss Marples, Morse... I love them all. There'll always be room for another detective and can't wait for yours to come on the screen- but avoid self-publishing- try your darnest to enchant some publisher (via agent) to take a risk with your detective. I think the "detective" story will never die because it achieves a fundamental purpose- it restores the balance of good against evil. I've noted your extensive research in ill-doing which is needed, but the detective story, I believe, is not so much concerned with the evilness men do rather than to ripristinate what is good- evilness is used in the same contrasting way as when without darkness we show there is no light. That's why the detective story will always find a reader/viewer because by uncovering the wrong-doer, it fulfils the unconscious desire in man to see, in spite of dire adversary, goodness is always triumphant.

As with regards to your questions- I don't know about fantasy writers, but yes, that's what writing is all about- you, your unexplored self and the effects places, people, beliefs- the whole of life itself has on that self. I've noted however, that writers seldom react in an ostentatious way to their circumstances but seem to internalise everything quite deeply and then spit it out in books... with or without message to society, is irrelevant.
 
Does the genre you write in allow you to express who you are?

I don't know that I write in one genre. I think you could call what I write speculative fiction most of the time. It reflects my laziness.

What messages about society do you try to get across?

I don't know about messages or trying to send messages. I like to try and look at things differently and see what happens.
 
I like to try and look at things differently and see what happens.

That's it, isn't it? You're going a walk.

No meeching, mithering, pulpits or soap boxes. Lord and Lady Hector can do one.

Genre, he-l-p. So many to choose from. None 'wrong'. But form should follow function, in which case, genre form arises organically or else the tail is wagging the dog.
 
Barnaby, Poirot, Montalbano, Vera, Colombo, Miss Marples, Morse... I love them all. There'll always be room for another detective and can't wait for yours to come on the screen- but avoid self-publishing- try your darnest to enchant some publisher (via agent) to take a risk with your detective. I think the "detective" story will never die because it achieves a fundamental purpose- it restores the balance of good against evil. I've noted your extensive research in ill-doing which is needed, but the detective story, I believe, is not so much concerned with the evilness men do rather than to ripristinate what is good- evilness is used in the same contrasting way as when without darkness we show there is no light. That's why the detective story will always find a reader/viewer because by uncovering the wrong-doer, it fulfils the unconscious desire in man to see, in spite of dire adversary, goodness is always triumphant.

As with regards to your questions- I don't know about fantasy writers, but yes, that's what writing is all about- you, your unexplored self and the effects places, people, beliefs- the whole of life itself has on that self. I've noted however, that writers seldom react in an ostentatious way to their circumstances but seem to internalise everything quite deeply and then spit it out in books... with or without message to society, is irrelevant.

Writing in the crime genre allows me the scope to tackle many issues in society, while throwing in unexpected human dilemmas. As American historian Daniel J. Boorstin observed: "The world of crime is a last refuge of the authentic, uncorrupted, spontaneous event."

Film director Alfred Hitchcock reckoned that: "A film in only as good as its villain." I think that this holds true for any story, not just the crime genre. It's the baddies who make things happen, who create tension in a plot...which is partly why it's tricky to write a compelling and interesting good guy or girl who's free of moral rectitude.

I'm still pondering on a quote I came across earlier this year, a comment by Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose: "The only thing worth writing about are love and murder." Does this pithy observation encompass every decent plot ever written? :confused:
 
I like to try and look at things differently and see what happens.

That's it, isn't it? You're going a walk.

No meeching, mithering, pulpits or soap boxes. Lord and Lady Hector can do one.

Genre, he-l-p. So many to choose from. None 'wrong'. But form should follow function, in which case, genre form arises organically or else the tail is wagging the dog.

I'm not sure if I should post it here- but anyway it was nice seeing you yesterday Katie.:)
 
Writing in the crime genre allows me the scope to tackle many issues in society, while throwing in unexpected human dilemmas. As American historian Daniel J. Boorstin observed: "The world of crime is a last refuge of the authentic, uncorrupted, spontaneous event."

Film director Alfred Hitchcock reckoned that: "A film in only as good as its villain." I think that this holds true for any story, not just the crime genre. It's the baddies who make things happen, who create tension in a plot...which is partly why it's tricky to write a compelling and interesting good guy or girl who's free of moral rectitude.

I'm still pondering on a quote I came across earlier this year, a comment by Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose: "The only thing worth writing about are love and murder." Does this pithy observation encompass every decent plot ever written? :confused:

I agree with you Paul, goodness alone just doesn't sell, at least not in fiction. But so as we can enjoy light, we have to have darkness, love is nothing if not accompanied by sorrow... But then, if we as writers proliferate only evil in society so as to create best-sellers, I ask myself: why should the Devil have the "best" books? Hence we rebel against such fatalism, have our own back, and make goodness radiate with brightness by overcoming evil. Because, at the end of the day, we all have to die, and I believe what we are in this world, if there is a continuance of our being after death, it can only be a continuation of what we have been here... And what would you bet that the human soul feels "better" when goodness overcomes evil than vice-versa... we have to be careful here, because if indeed there is a continuation of our being after this life, what we choose here we choose for eternity.
 
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A present for Kirsten

Hello. My name is Paul and I'm an author...ish!

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