There’s a discussion going on over at Crimespace about sex. How much is too much for mystery novels? Sunny Frazier, who started the discussion, said she wrote a book set in an S&M club but there was no sex in the book and asked, “Was it a cop-out? Or, did I know my audience and exactly what they could handle?”
I think she knew her audience and probably did the right thing for her book.
But it’s a decision we all have to make all the time: do I want to give my audience exactly what they can already handle, or do I want to push them a little?
Do I want to push myself a little?
Usually I go along with the idea that you write for yourself, you write the book you want to read and don’t worry about marketing or sales or any of that. It’s art. Be true to your art.
Then my last book received one criticism more often than any other – too many characters, too many sub-plots, not enough focus on the main action.
Oh, it received some good reviews, too, some people like it just the way it is.
But now that I’ve had a few books published I’m starting to think again about that whole, be true to your art stuff. What’s wrong with considering what the reviews have to say? Especially when so many are saying the same thing.
Maybe there are too many characters. Not many people read a book in a single sitting, or even two or three sittings. I know I don’t, I read a book fifteen minutes at a time over a week or two.
It is hard to keep track of a lot of characters and sub-plots.
So, in the book I’m working on now I went back and took out a bunch of characters and a couple of sub-plots.
And there’s the eternal question – how much do we compromise for sales? We all make the joke that it depends on how many sales we’re talking about, “For a million bucks, I’d...”
Everybody has to find their own balance between art and sales but I think maybe it’s best to start as close to art as possible.
What do you think?