Springboarding today off an excellent post by Janice Hardy at diymfa: Are You Writing the Right Story?

I’m not going to parrot her advice, just answer the questions and prompts she provides.

  1. What kind of novels am I drawn to?

    Lately I’m drawn to crime thrillers and mysteries, in addition to my staple fantasy novels. I enjoy historical fiction, though I haven’t read much recently.

    A list of my favorite books, Lord. Um. I can’t name any crime-wise, aside from Black Lizard Pulp Collections. Catherynne Valente’s Deathless wove a period of history I’m interested in into a setting of legend and fantasy. Tim Powers’ Last Call provides grime-stained high weirdness. Fritz Lieber and Robert E. Howard give me grim heroism. I don’t enjoy the grimdark trend in fantasy, but looking at my favorites, I suppose it’s closer to what I’m drawn to than epic heroism.

  2. What kind of movies or tv shows am I drawn to?

    The only show I watch on a regular basis is Hell on Wheels, which is a Western full of difficult choices, complicated relationships, and a complete lack of status quo. I enjoyed Boardwalk Empire, which is similar in theme. In more formulaic shows, I loved Firefly for its dialogue and sharp characterizations. My favorite shows are actually nature documentaries – they’re not always story fodder, but visually they can be stunning.

  3. What similarities do you see? What common themes?

    They focus on an unstable world, where loyalties and priorities shift on a regular basis. They’ve all got protagonists who are competent though flawed. A few of them are straight-ahead bang-up action, more often they blend that action with introspection.

  4. Is there a recurring character type? 

    Competent but flawed protagonists. Slippery and powerful antagonists. Determined characters who may be at war with themselves, but who have chosen their path and will continue down it come what may.

  5. Are there recurring plots? 

    Ambition and determination.

This was a great exercise for anyone working to find their voice – I have some thinking to do.

(Thanks to Elizabeth S. Craig for the initial link to Janice’s post!)