Hello, and welcome to Episode 3 of The Writer’s Everything. Today we’re going to be discussing what I’m going to call “The Economization of Intellectual Property”, or, making your writing pull double duty. But first, let’s go over the writing term of the week.
Genre conventions are the elements of a story that are common, though not always unique to, the genre in which an author chooses to write their story. While there could be a hundred authors who all have the same idea for a novel, it’s up to each individual to decide how they want to tell it. A big part of that involves the genre that the author chooses to write their book in.
Think about the concept of a computer becoming self-aware. Such a story could be told as a highly intellectual psychological thriller, like Ex Machina, an exciting action film, like The Terminator, an action-oriented murder mystery, like I, Robot, or a heart-warming but potent character drama, like A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Every genre is defined by different and unique characteristics and events. These genre conventions have developed over decades, if not centuries. As readers and watchers consume hundreds of stories in their favorite genres, they come to recognize, and even expect, certain things from those stories.
For example, a romantic comedy will almost always have the couple get into a major argument just minutes before realizing the truth about each other and running back into their open arms. A ‘whodunit’ will almost always have an ensemble cast packed full of colorful individuals, each one with a long and storied past filled to the brim with connections to the murder victim.
Genre conventions are not set in stone. No author is obligated to include a story beat simply because it’s common in the genre in which they are writing. The fact of the matter is that you have to find a balance between fulfilling reader expectations and creating a derivative, boring novel.
How have genre conventions affected the story of your novel? Let me know on Twitter @QJ_author.
The Economization of Intellectual Property
As writers, nearly ever single one of us has the same goal close in mind: make a living off of our writing. Unfortunately, however, most of us are far from putting in our two-week notice at our dar job. The problem for many of us is that there is simply too much begging for our time, energy, and hard-earned money. By the time we’ve dealt with the essentials of daily living, we often don’t have much left to dedicate to our dream job.
So how can we as authors make sure that our creative endeavors are pulling double duty, triple duty, or more in an effort to bring us closer and closer to the circumstances of our dreams? The answer lies in a simple two-word expression: Intellectual Property.
When you write something, the words you wrote, in the order you wrote them, are your IP. Unless you sign a contract and give away the rights to that work, you can use it however you want. That is a key feature of economizing your creativity, or making your writing pull double duty.
You just wrote an amazing blog post. Why not highlight the key points in a series of Tweets? Who knows how much your audience might expand. You spent two and a half hours watching a movie last night. Why not write up an analysis of it on your blog, create a video review for YouTube, and take the audio and turn it into a podcast?
Let’s put it this way: There are over 7 billion people on this world. There’s a pretty good chance that someone, somewhere, is out there, dying to become your biggest fan. So it’s on you to take advantage of every opportunity you have available to find that individual.
Unfortunately, not everyone will read your blog. Not everyone will follow you on Twitter. Not everyone will watch your YouTube videos or listen to your podcast. But maybe your biggest future fan will do one of those things. That’s why you want to put yourself out there on as many platforms as possible.
Of course, the simple fact of the matter is that not every tweet is worthy of a podcast, and not every blog post is worthy of a YouTube video. So how do you know which parts of your IP will lend themselves to being economized, recycled, and repurposed?
The first thing you need to do is plan ahead carefully. Identify the topics you can write about that will translate well into multiple mediums. For example, one of my projects is a YouTube channel where I critique and fix movies from the perspective of a writer. If I ever get around to making those videos again, their scripts would serve just as well for blog posts or subjects of podcasts as they would for the YouTube channel itself.
Another option is to think about your hobbies. With enough advanced thought, you can economize them so that no one can accuse you of wasting your time. If you buy stuff at the store or online, then make a live stream video of you unpacking it. Review each item in its own Youtube video. Then recommend the best of your haul to Twitter. If you collect coins, stamps, or spoons, then make a tiny note about each one that you buy, like where it comes from and what you were doing when you found it. Next thing you know, you have a stamp book blog post and an upcoming Kindle ebook discussing your coin-collecting journey.
Now, one of the most important things you need to do when choosing what subjects you’ll economize; is to make sure that they’re things that are going to keep your interest for a long time to come. In other words, if you hate writing how-to articles for operating power tools, then there’s a pretty good chance you won’t enjoy making a podcast about them, either.
Always write about things that pique your interest, especially if you’re going to be revisiting them again and again and again. With all of your writing, your goal is to try to elicit emotional responses from your readers. If you’re not excited about the topic you’re writing about, if every article or tweet is a chore, then you’re not going to be able to draw your readers in and allow them to have the sort of emotional response that keeps them coming back for more. Ironically, this is the case even if it’s a topic that they themselves are interested in.
As aspiring authors with the goal of having a successful writing career, every second counts. That’s why it’s so important that we take advantage of every opportunity to economize our creativity, to let our words pull double or triple duty. If you do, then you can be positive that every word you write will take you twice as far, if not more, towards your goal of being a successful author.
What have you done thus far in your writing career to economize your creativity? Let me know on Twitter @QJ_author.
Character Development Question
Ok. So now it’s time for this week’s character development question, which is:
Does your character like his name? Why or why not?
Most of the characters you’ll write about will have had their names chosen for them at a very young age, if not at birth or even before it. Given the lack of say that the character has in selecting his own name, as well as changing styles and any potential for teasing that the parents failed to take into account when choosing a name, it’s not hard to imagine why so many people don’t like their own names.
Some characters will even go as far as to make a concerted effort to get those around them to call them by a different name. For example, in the animated film Tangled, the swashbuckling main character chooses to go by the name Flynn Rider because he thinks it sounds cooler than his given name of Eugene. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the titular main character goes by the name Indiana because he hates his given name of Henry Walton Jones Jr.
Writing Prompt of the Week
And finally, we’re going to have our writing prompt of the week. This week’s prompt is to write a story explaining why man set foot on Alpha Centauri before setting foot on Mars. Let your imagination go wild, and be sure to share your resulting work with me on Twitter @QJ_Author.
Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of The Writer’s Everything podcast. If you’d like to read a transcript of this episode, you can find it at TheWritersEverything.org/transcripts. If you’d like to listen to future episodes, be sure to subscribe on whatever platform you’re currently listening on, and be sure to give it a rating while you’re at it to let me know what you think of the podcast. The Writer’s Everything is also available as a free downloadable magazine. If you’d like to read it, simply go to TheWritersEverything.org/magazine, and download the issue of your choice. If you’d like access to exclusive bonus content, such as my list and review of the top Character Name Generators on the web, you can go to TheWritersEverything.org/newsletter. If you’d like to support the podcast, you can do so at Patreon.com/QJMartin. For your convenience, all the referenced links will also be in the show notes.