Monday, October 10, 2011

What is Popular Fiction?

I'm thinking about my forthcoming trip to Queensland — I'm teaching in Brisbane on the 22nd October and in  Rockhampton on the 23rd — running workshops on Writing Popular Fiction, and I've had a few questions about it, so . . .
Popular fiction isn't simply fiction that aims to be popular — every writer wants that. Popular fiction includes genre fiction, such as crime, action adventure, romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and so on, though it doesn't have to be a genre novel as such. It includes the kind of books you see in airport bookshops, the books that make you laugh or cry, and take you away — and not just in a plane.  The prime aim of popular fiction is to entertain readers and keep them turning pages far into the night because they can't put the book down.

One of my favorite quotes about popular fiction is this:
"Readers of "serious"  fiction expect to be challenged and like to be entertained; readers of popular fiction expect to be entertained and like to be challenged. They're often the same readers in a different mood." Daphne de Jong.

And here's another one I like:
"One of the problems, it seems to me, is that we have got it into our heads that books should be hard work, and that unless they're hard work, they're not doing us any good.Nick Hornby

Every genre has its own conventions, and this workshop will show you how understanding these conventions can make your story more exciting, satisfying and marketable. 
We'll look at how to make a story compelling;  from crafting an opening that intrigues readers, to deepening the conflict that forms the spine of any good novel. We'll focus on how to make readers care about your characters and want to spend time with them, and how you can sweep a reader into the world of your story, and keep them there.
I'm really looking forward to it - I love talking craft-of-writing with like-minded souls, and I love teaching. And it's a huge source of pleasure to me when new writers get published. 
I'm also looking forward to catching up with writer friends in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and seeing a bit more of beautiful regional Queensland. I was up in Bundaberg in May, teaching writing, and I guess word has spread because I think the Rockhampton workshop is already full. Thanks, people.