top of page

Dare To Be Different

Write something only you could write.

According to Amazon, the three biggest selling works of fiction in the UK last year were Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry, Richard Osman’s The Last Devil to Die (The Thursday Murder Club 4) and Colleen Hoover’s 2016 novel It Ends With Us. The sales of these three authors are stratospheric: their books (Osman and Hoover have each written several) have sold over 35 million copies worldwide.

Some writers keep one eye firmly fixed on the bestseller lists and determine to write something in the same vein. It’s why there’s always a flurry of ‘copycat’ books when a novel sells well: Osman’s success resulted in shelves-full of cosy crime tales featuring middle-aged if not elderly sleuths. There’s nothing wrong with that. It might, in fact, be wise to write something that agents and publishers already know will sell. It might be more than wise to attempt to write a bestseller.

But what if you’ve no desire to write a cosy murder mystery or a YA romance? What if you’re not interested in historical fiction with a tragicomedic bent like Lessons in Chemistry?

Write what moves you, is my advice. Write something that you’d love to read, not that you think will sell millions, although if you can combine the two, as Garmus did, you’ve hit the creative jackpot. (Lessons in Chemistry was Garmus’ first novel and is very much its own genre).

Agents and publishers can’t afford to take risks but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Write what you want. It might just be the next big thing. Equally, it might not be the next big thing but something you self-publish and of which you are intensely proud.

Write from the edges. Give central roles to those who never get written into scenes. Dare to have non-human narrators and non-linear narratives. Play with tense and point of view. Mash up genres or create your own. Experiment and play and be authentic to yourself and to your love of writing. What moves you? What excites you? What makes you howl with laughter? You won’t be the only one looking for a book like that. Dare to be different. Dare to write something entirely for yourself but written so exquisitely that anyone lucky enough to read it will gift it to everyone they know.

Being different could bring you rejection (Take heart: many successful authors have been rejected; some time and time again) but it could also get you an agent. You won’t know until you try. And at the very least you’ll have written a unique and daring book that no one but you could have written. Now that’s something to aim for.


bottom of page