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Happy New Year!

Posted: January 1, 2017 by R. A. Gates in Ruth's Words, Uncategorized
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To each his own

Posted: March 7, 2013 by R. A. Gates in Ruth's Words
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There are as many reasons to write as there are writers. Some write to educate or enlighten. Others write to entertain. Story telling is a diverse art which has spawned all sorts of different genres from mysteries to urban fantasy, splatter punk to romance. And, thank goodness for writers, there is an audience for any kind of story the mind can conceive.

Is one genre better than another? Are thought provoking tales that relay a moral message above fun and campy stories? Is one writer better than another based on why they write? Does it matter that there are already thousands of similar books on the market? Is there no room for one more?

Recently, I was told that my story was “generic as hell” and felt like “a bad PG movie” because “faerys are lame main characters.” I felt like the worst hack alive because according to this person, I wasn’t unique enough and wasn’t taking my responsibility as a writer to educate the masses seriously. After a weekend of doubting myself, I got angry. Angry at myself for letting one person’s opinion have more weight than my own.

So what if there are already tons of books just like mine. Obviously, there is a large audience for such stories or there wouldn’t be so many—and a lot of money to be made. The great thing about being an author is that we can all share readers. I love reading the type of stories that I write, that’s why I write them. There are enough sales out there for everyone.

I will continue to write my story the way I want it, regardless if some think it is generic as hell. I know it is special and there are readers out there who will love it. Will I ask this person to read my writing again? Probably not. Some people just can’t separate their personal taste to offer subjective criticism. But thankfully, I have many wonderful writers around me who can be objective and helpful even if they don’t necessarily like my genre.

They say there are no original stories, they’ve all been told. What’s a writer to do then? That’s easy. Take a familiar story and change it up, twist it around until it is totally different and unique again. That seems to be the trend right now in books and movies.

Hook

Hook

This weekend I watched Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Warm Bodies. I review the movies on my blog. H&G isn’t so much a twist on the familiar fairy tale as it is a continuation. It answers the question of what these poor children did after they killed the witch. They became witch hunters, of course. Another continuation story I love is Hook, although that story could also fall under the What If category. What if Peter Pan grew up? Robin Williams is excellent as the grown-up Peter Panning, by the way.

Fairy tales are perfect stories for adjusting because almost everyone already knows the original tales. The characters are familiar and the plots ingrained in our memories, thanks in part to Disney. Changing the setting, or genre, or point of view of the original makes the same old fairy tale new and exciting again. Sometimes the author and/or director can make the adaptation work, such as Red Riding Hood, and sometimes it bombs, like in Beastly. I liked him so much better as the Beast.

220px-10_Things_I_Hate_About_You_filmOne of the most retold plots isn’t a fairy tale, really. Romeo and Juliet has been a big redone a million times (not an exact figure), because it works. One of my favorites is West Side Story. I still cry whenever I hear the song Somewhere. And the latest version is Warm Bodies. I absolutely loved the zombie aspect, very timely. Shakespeare’s work has been modernized to great success. I will never tire of watching 10 Things I Hate About You. The Taming of the Shrew was brilliant originally but the modern twist made it more relatable to today’s audiences—and freakin’ hilarious!

I don’t know about you, but every time I leave a movie theater of finish a book, I always ponder how I would write it differently, how I would change it to be my own. So don’t worry about writing a story no one’s ever read before because that ain’t gonna happen. But you can find a way to freshen up an old classic. Find a plot hole in your favorite story and plug it up with your own vision. Ask what if? Put the characters in a totally different world and see what happens. Swap the good guys and bad guys. What if  Cinderella wasn’t as sweet and innocent as we’ve been lead to believe? Maybe Robin Hood only stole to cover his gambling debts? Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

What are your favorite twisted-up classics?

To become a better writer, I am challenging myself to become a better reader. In the past, my reading time was limited between my son’s at-bats during his little league games and waiting in the car to pick my daughter up from band practice. So you can imagine that not a lot of books were completed. This year, I resolve to change that. Now, I’m not going to promise to read 100 books, or even one a week. I gotta have some time to take care of my three kids and write my next novel, Lip Smacked. But reading for an hour before bed every night is a realistic goal I can achieve. Whether I read a YA urban fantasy, books on writing or tackling a classic, I will read every day. And some time during the year, I will finish reading The Count of Monte Cristo because according to Matt and Kody, it’s freaking awesome! Yeah, we’ll see._48034224_neilgaiman

In addition, I’d also like to read all of Neil Gaiman’s books. Why Neil Gaiman, you ask? Because he’s hot and looks like he could be Severus Snape’s younger brother. (And if you don’t know who Severus Snape is, I really feel sorry for you.) Plus, Neil’s just an all-around cool guy. Right now, I’m reading Coraline to my five-year-old daughter, Angela, so that will soon be crossed off the list.

What are you planning to read this year?