>Dragon motivation


Sarah wrote about the relationship you develop with you books — and coming to love them.
One of the things about being a career-writer/professional novelist/ bloody hack (please cross out those that do not apply) is that you write a lot of books. Many (all but 1 of 18 in my case) are sold on proposal. Now… that sounds very nice. You know the book is “accepted”, how much money it’ll earn (at least), when it’s due etc. It is nice. The part that isn’t, of course, is just same as the on spec process: you write proposals which you have no idea if will appeal. You attach hope to them. Sometimes you get pointers from the editor, agent or in my case, co-author. You’re tossing bread on the water… so you try all sorts, from baguettes to good-solid-with-potato-in-it poi. On spec you write the book you want to write – here you offer them the book you hope they’ll want. The simple truth is Murphy is out to get you – or at least me. Quite a few of the books I’ve had accepted would not have been my first choice to write. For eg. Mike (my agent) leaned on me to work on a high-fantasy proposal with dragons. Now, I’m not exactly your typical high fantasy author, being far too inclined to satire, humor and science. Not that I don’t enjoy some of it, but it wasn’t something that I thought was me, really — or that anyone would be interested in a proposal from me for. Yeah, well, you know the story about the ESL immigrant who had made something of horse’s hind end of a job and had his young supervisor roll his eyes and say: “Igor, you know, you know F!$% nothing about this.” And Igor, much affronted draws himself up and says “You young squeakpip! You say I know F!$% nothing, but compared to you, I know F!$% ALL!”
And I proved Igor and I have a lot in common because I also proved I know F!$% ALL. (Remind me of this if I get jumped up in my own self importance.) because that was the one (out of ?8) proposals that got bought. So now I am learning to love it. Because that is the mark of the career-writer/professional novelist/ bloody hack: you can write about anything, you can write it more-or-less to length required, and mostly so that the editor gets something they don’t throw up in disgust over. And yet you make it you own. Put your hallmarks and twists on it. For me that means that although it high fantasy complete with dragons and elves and dwarves and the repressed female heroine… it has internal logic. Rather like a good detective story, the characters have to have motive and opportunity. And when the end comes the reader ought to slap his forehead and say “now why didn’t I see that coming?” I find once I have that internal logic with the motivations established I can love any book. I just struggle to get it sometimes. Well, I did yesterday.
I’m getting very fond of my dragon.
He’s fond of humans too.
And not just roasted.


  1. >I love the cover to The Dragon Done It! It’s one of the best my hubby has painted. And I’m a mystery fan, so that helps. I’m still waiting for my review copy from BAEN for some holiday reading. :-DCheers,Marianne

Comments are closed.