I sometimes see books as meals. Some are down-and-dirty burgers (vegan or meat, you take your pick). They’re tasty, you guzzle your way through them quickly, but you know they weren’t cordon bleu cooking.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that… you had fun eating it, right?
Others are succulent, five-star meals. The flavours are complex, you’re totally engrossed with the experience, but you wouldn’t want to dine on it every day. As a writer, I personally think it’s fun to have a go at both.
So, What Makes a Gourmet, Fine-Dining-Style Read?
As far as I’m concerned, the Michelin-starred read usually features one or more of the following:
- A topic explored from a new, exciting angle
- An element of challenge
- Makes you reassess your perspective on something
- An unusual structure
- A character / set of characters that feel totally new and fresh
- A bold narrative style
I could go on, but let’s leave it there for the time being. For now, let’s focus on the why. Why would you want to write a book that challenges people when you could simply provide something enjoyable?
Delving into the Why
As always, a disclaimer first – this is merely my opinion and others may feel differently. But for me, I like to write the occasional challenging book because I think as writers, we should always be pushing further. Exploring new grounds. Taking literature in fresh, exciting directions.
My first ‘different’ book will be coming out in early summer (all going to plan). Writing it was a real mission because the structure was SO crazy. The whole time, I was thinking ‘can I actually carry this off’? ‘Will people be able to follow it?’ It was easily the toughest thing I’d ever plotted out.
However, it felt good to write it. I felt I was creating something that hadn’t been done before. That’s not to say it’s a piece of literary genius – as a writer, I know my limits! But it does feel fresh and it does feel interesting, and that’s a good thing.
As for the second book (which I wrote about a while back as being ‘unpublishable’) – it takes the conventional structure and lobs it in the bin. It’s ambiguous, and probably throws out more questions than it does answers. But it was insanely satisfying to write – and ultimately, as a writer, that’s why we do it!
But I Kind of Like Burgers…
I also love writing books that are pure entertainment value. In fact, I’d defend them to the death. Sometimes, all you want is a book you can ease into, that envelops you in a captivating world and keeps you turning the pages.
It’s a good craic to write both styles, if I’m being honest. But then, I’m a horrendous flitter and I love trying out new things all the time.
The Fun of Trying Something Different
If there’s one piece of advice I’d give a fellow writer, it’s to have a go at trying something new. It might not work out. It might be the worst thing you’ve ever written (you should see my attempt at crime fiction – now there’s a slice of stinking writing for you; I can definitely say I’m not very good at that genre!). However, it might be the finest thing you’ve done in a long time.
Even if it’s horrendous, it’ll breathe a note of fresh air into your writing. It might get you thinking about the process in a different way too. Either way, it’s a chance to discover new literary depths that you didn’t know you had. It might add new proverbial feathers to your bow. Or you might just really enjoy the experience!
Dr Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural – The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost, is available to buy – you can do so here (US) or here (UK). Likewise, The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger and The Case of the Hidden Daemon are also available! And watch this space for an entirely new book, hopefully coming out early summer...