February 7, 2012

Writing is Like Trying on Clothes

Today I would like to give a warm welcome to Jenna McClure.

In my either years of writing two books (hey, I’m a slow writer!), I’ve learned a few things along the way. One of the most important things is that I hate shopping. Huh? What do writing and shopping have in common, you ask? You’re probably thinking “no wonder you’ve only written two books, because you relate shopping and writing!”

For most people, true, the two are not related, but it came to me one evening lying in bed thinking of ideas for my next novel, that writing is like shopping for several reasons. Some of them may make sense, some may make you gag. Either way, this is how I see it…

  1. Size. Most of us know what size clothes we wear (except when designers go and change them on us), and it’s the same with writing. For example, what size book do I want to write? Some would say there is a direct correlation between the size of your jeans and the size of your book, meaning more writing = more sitting = more eating = more gaining weight = larger clothes, but that’s not what I’m referring to. Just like you have to try on clothes to see which size fits, you have to figure out what length of book you want to write. Do you want to write a full-length novel of over 100k words, or would you rather write shorter novellas of around 60k words? It all depends on what you have to say, and how long it takes you to say it.
  2. Color/Pattern. When you go shopping, you usually go for a specific item – shirt, pants, shoes, etc. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll at least know when you find it, right? For writing, we can translate colors and patterns into characters. We know what colors and patterns we like in clothes, and we know what and personality traits we like in our fictitious characters. We know what clothes look good on us and we know what character traits sell books, so we do our best to meet reader’s wants. This is not to say a purple paisley shirt directly relates to a gay male character, but you get the idea.
  3. Designer. If you’re like me, you think Target has its own line of clothes. The only difference between one shirt and the next is the price. They both have buttons, a collar and two arms. It’s all in the branding and marketing (I’m sure there’s a few bigger differences, but let’s keep it simple). We know what brands we like because they’ve served us well over the years, just like we know what works when marketing and promoting our books. We know that having a Facebook page is always a good idea, as is blogging, either on your own or as a guest, but there are a lot more options out there. It’s up to us as authors to figure out what brand we trust, and make it work for us.
  4. Store. Most of us probably go to a variety of stores to find that perfect outfit or little black dress for a specific occasion. Just like most authors have submitted their manuscripts to probably twenty or thirty different editors and publishing houses. But this is where the relationship between shopping and writing takes a little break. While most of us are happy shopping at several stores, we may only get a shot with one publisher, so we either take it or leave it. With as difficult as it is to get published, we don’t always have the luxury of picking our own publishers. Unless you’re that good.

As always, this is strictly for entertainment purposes and is not to be taken as gospel. But I hear Target is coming out with their own line of clothes…

Environmental consultant Emmalyn Ashmore is outraged when she discovers the last minute replacement for the guest speaker at her annual conference is none other than Adam McLean, a cattle rancher, whose lifestyle represents everything she stands against.

Adam McLean has never met a more contrary woman. From the moment Emma opens her mouth, he knows she’s exactly the type of woman he doesn’t need in his life – ever.

But Fate has other plans, and as the sparks fly, Emma realizes there’s more at stake than just conserving the environment. She has to figure out how to conserve her heart, before she loses it forever.

It’s never good to make assumptions about people you don’t know,” Adam replied, throwing her words back at her.

She jerked her eyes to him, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Right. Sorry.”

Idly, he wondered if she was always this nervous, or if it was just him. Selfishly he hoped he had the same effect on her as she did on him.

“I know you’re a cattle rancher and all,” she started, “but I couldn’t let you leave without talking to you about your speech.”

He didn’t care for her opening words, but he liked her voice, so he concentrated on that. Besides, if he missed anything important, he’d ask her to repeat it. Over dinner, he mused as he continued to stare at her mouth. It was still moving, which meant she was still talking and he was still not listening, but she didn’t seem to notice.

Or so he thought.

Her lips stopped moving, snapped shut, then opened slightly. A brief, shrill whistle pierced the air. He jerked his eyes back to hers, and found her staring at him in angry disbelief.

If she didn’t look so mad, he might have laughed.

“Mr. McLean, were you listening to a word I said?”

Adam scratched his chin. “Sure. You said something about me being a cattle rancher, which I already knew, and then something about your impressions. But you kind of lost me after that.”

She placed her hands on her hips. “I was trying to talk to you about how misleading your speech was.”

He cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah? I must have missed that part.”

“I think you missed all my parts.”

“Trust me, I didn’t,” he drawled.


Alison Henderson said...

Hi, Jenna. What a fun analogy! I've never looked at writing that way before. Best of luck with Animal Attraction!

Babs Mountjoy said...

I love your excerpt! Best of luck with your book. :)

teresa said...

Hi Jenna,
Cool way to look at writing and shopping. I agree, when we know what we like, that's half the battle.
Happy Sales!
Teresa Blue

Jenna McClure said...

Hi ladies! Thanks for the comments! I have to admit I never thought of writing and shopping like that, but it just came to me out of the blue one day. Maybe not applicable to most people, but entertaining nonetheless.

Katherine said...

Hi Jenna, I've never thought of writing being like shopping until I read your post. It makes a lot of sense. Great excerpt. Hope you have lots of sales. :o)

Jenna McClure said...

Thanks Katherine! I would rather write than shop anyday - much less stressful. And I can do it in my pajamas!