Discussion: What Do You Love to Write About?

“Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.” –Ray Bradbury (via Brainyquote
Photo credit: Bethan on Flickr
Like most art, writing is fueled entirely by our passions. Our obsession with translating imaginary worlds, people and situations into words on the page—our want—no, need—to create something out of nothing. But while we writers all share a passion for creation with words, what exactly it is that we like to create—that is, what we like to write about—varies greatly from writer to writer. 

The important part isn’t what we write, per say—it’s that we write whatever it is that we love to write about. For some, that’s contemporary romances with quirky characters that have readers laughing and crying throughout the course of the novel; for others it’s action-packed with paranormal or magical elements that awe or terrify our readers. Sometimes it’s lighthearted stories about growth and development, and other times it’s much heavier themes about loss and death. There isn’t a right or wrong answer—there is only passion.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to write what you love. Forget genres or what’s currently trending on the marketplace or what’s been popular in the past—the best thing you can do for yourself and your future readers is to write something that you’re passionate about, because the first step to getting your readers to fall in love with your story is to love it yourself.

Identifying elements that you love to write about is a fantastic way to kick off brainstorming for new projects or to re-infuse current WIPs with that new WIP excitement you had when you first began writing. I dare you to create a list of elements you love to write about and not want to write about it.

As for me, I love to write about deeply conflicted characters. I love exploring (and exploiting) inner demons, and overcoming impossible odds, and fighting not just external forces, but internal battles as well. I love writing about relationships—both romantic and not—about the impossible, the improbable and the so-called non-existent. I love to write about characters who haunt me long after I’ve finished writing for the day, I love to test the boundaries of their strength, their will, their self-preservation and their love.

And in the end, after I’m sure they hate me for it, I love making them stronger from their experience.

That’s a sample of my love list—now I want to hear yours: what do you love to write about?

30 comments:

Angela Ackerman said...

I agree--the passion we feel for WHY we write has to come through or the book will only be a shadow. I love the creativity and freedom of writing, of opening a conduit inside me and letting out my beliefs to share with others. We live so many lives and experience so many moments through our characters--what's not to love? :)

E.B. Black said...

I love to build new worlds in my writing.

Ava Jae said...

I completely agree, Angela--writing really does give us the unique opportunity of stepping into another's shoes and living their lives and (sometimes impossible) experiences. Gotta love it. :)

Ava Jae said...

That's a great one. Thanks for sharing, E.B.!

Andi-Roo said...

I love to write dialogue. There isn't nearly enough of that in my WIP, which may explain why I've neglected it somewhat of late. I shall have to rectify that! I was planning to work on my outline today, having strayed from it so far during NaNoWriMo. Think I'll add some notes about discussions my characters need to have. Thanks for the tip! :)

Stephanie Noël said...

I like to write about entirely different world that are often parallel to our own. I also like to created alternate futures, using what if questions. My characters are often faced with complex problems and I like to explore human emotions. I like to write epic stories.

Stephanie Noël said...

I find writing dialogues very difficult. I always question myself as to the importance of what is said in relation to the plot...

Emily Mead said...

My favourite part of writing is the characters. Their development, their dialogue, their meetings together. I love to write about really weird, extroverted characters that have orange fuzzy llama slippers (fact: I actually have a character like this) and that declare Mondays as Wear Pyjamas Outside days. Characters are my favourite :)

Rena said...

Aside from animals in my picture books, I like to write about people's weaknesses or feelings of inadequacy. I think a lot of myself comes out in my writing. Not sure if that's good or bad sometimes.

Andi-Roo said...

My hubz says I'm good at it, but I don't know how valid that is, LOLZ! The conversations seem natural when I read them, which is cool. But as far as how important the exchanges themselves are... well... I don't know about that. I can say, I learn more about my characters from their unscripted chatter than from outlining them. They reveal history and quirks and other secrets that I never would have thought of on my own. Guess my stories are more character-driven than plot-driven. Not sure this is a good thing or not, but it's a place to start, at any rate! :)

Kyle van Rensburg said...

I really like stories about deeply flawed and complex characters, who act differently and unpredictably with every obstacle thrown in their way.

I like stories that aren't afraid the give me a gut punch emotionally. The Walking Dead Episode Five? Man, now that is an emotional story right there. ;(

I also try to give my characters a lot of depth, and as I said before, flaws. I write what I like in a story, and I like characters that suffer from emotional pain. It makes them more sympathetic to me.


And last but not least, I love complex stories that make me think. :)

AJ Bradley said...

It's funny, I was just talking about this with a friend, and I was saying that I'm surprised by my own agility with action and dialogue scenes. I never expected to enjoy writing these. I LOVE reading moody, heavy, poetic, thoughtful prose-y books, so when I set out to write, this was what I was going for. But I really suck at it! I love writing the dialogue, I'm always surprised by where it takes me. And I love writing action/fight scenes, where I can really 'see' what my characters are made of. These scenes are what get me through the 'sequels' that I find rather laborious...

Austin Halsell said...

It's funny, what I actually write compared to what I think I like to write about are totally different. I always think I like to write fantastical action and sweeping, epic landscape. But no matter what I genre I'm writing or POV or whatever, I always end up focusing (and loving) on character development, altering world-views, and love, romantic and platonic. Love, it seems, is especially a big subject for me in poetry and prose. I actually seem to focus less on romance as I do with other relationships. Craft-wise I love writing dialogue; something about two characters talking and making it sound real, but knowing that real conversations sound dumb on paper, gets my creative bones burning.

Ava Jae said...

Sure thing, Andi! I also find that I enjoy writing dialogue, so my first drafts tend to be pretty dialogue heavy. Back and forth banter never gets tiring to write. :)


Best of luck with your outlining!

Ava Jae said...

I usually find that it's easiest to let the dialogue flow without worrying about the importance of what's said in the first draft, then refining it in later drafts. It's usually easier to cut and tweak than it is to add later on.

Ava Jae said...

I also have the same experience with dialogue--getting your characters to talk is a great way to get to know them.

Ava Jae said...

Parallel worlds and alternate realities! Both are very cool concepts, and I completely understand enjoying to experiment with them. :)

Ava Jae said...

Your characters sound eccentric and fun--both to write and read. :)

Ava Jae said...

I think it's pretty near impossible to write without incorporating bits of yourself into it--it's your creation and it's only natural that you would have some part of yourself reflected in your work. Definitely not a bad thing, IMO.

Larry Wilson said...

Most every how-to book on writing stresses this--to write from one's passion. I always thought this was needless advice. Why would anyone not write about what they love? I suppose there really are other motives for writing, and maybe we all need to be reminded of that. Well, maybe I just think I want to write science fiction because I love to read it so much. The themes I love to weave into my stories are forgiveness and reconciliation, exploring the secret side of personalities--loneliness, perfectionism, the hidden dreams. Philosophy and speculation about the meaning of the universe and what it really means to be human are recurrent themes to explore. Speculative fiction offers a wide open platform to discover all of these and more.

Jen Donohue said...

I've found that dogs tend to creep into my writing. I also like snarky and especially smart characters who are possessed of random niche knowledge.

Nickie McCall said...

I love that Bradbury quote. You're right, it's so important to write what you love (if you don't love it, who will?)

I love writing about moral dilemmas, and how different people faced with the same problem will react differently. I love putting characters under pressure and seeing how they respond!

Ava Jae said...

Great list, Kyle! I absolutely agree that emotional stories are particularly powerful--both to write and read. Depth and flaws are also very important for character development, so those are great additions as well.


And I think any story that makes you stop and think is fantastic. :)

Ava Jae said...

That's a really interesting point you raise, because you're right--what we like to write and what we like to read isn't always exactly the same. I find I also really enjoy poetic prose, but when I try to write it, it comes out way too purple and...quite frankly not as poetic as it seemed in my head when I wrote it. :)


I've also found that dialogue and action scenes can be very entertaining to write. Thanks for sharing, AJ!

Khai said...

These comments are really thought provoking. It's interesting to see that some commenters were surprised at what they actually enjoy writing.

I don't think I ever set out to write a particular genre and certainly didn't care about "what was trending at the time" (which incidentally was the dawn of the dystopian genre revival). In fact, my original notes show that I began with a high fantasy story set around the seventeenth century. My current WiP borders on gaslamp and urban fantasy and is set in the late nineteenth century English countryside.

Like many other commenters, I love dialogue. I'm telling the story of two sisters, so writing their banter is probably one of the highlights of writing.

Ava Jae said...

You're not the first to say that you're somewhat surprised by what you like writing (as it's different from what you thought you'd like), which I find really interesting. I also think that love and relationships (in all of their forms) are wonderful topics to focus on, and when done correctly can really add a lot of depth to a story. Thanks for sharing, Austin!

Ava Jae said...

I think when people forget to write from their passion, it's often because they start writing for the market instead (which is a losing battle 9/10 times).


I love that you mentioned forgiveness and reconciliation--two very powerful themes. What it means to be human is an interesting (and deep) one as well. Great list, Larry. :)

Ava Jae said...

Dogs! That's funny, as much as I love animals, I've only included them in my work maybe...twice? Not very much, that's for sure. Very interesting.


Snarky and smart characters are also very fun. Thanks for sharing, Jen!

Ava Jae said...

I thought the Bradbury quote was particularly powerful and I knew I had to use it as soon as I saw it. You're also absolutely right about having to love your work first before you can expect anyone else to.


Moral dilemmas and putting the pressure on are both great ones. Thanks for sharing, Nickie!

Ava Jae said...

I also found it really interesting to see how many writers mentioned finding that what they thought they would enjoy writing is actually different from what they enjoy writing. We surprise even ourselves, at times. :)


I think it's great that you never fell into the trap of writing for the market--it's something that befalls more than a handful of writers, so it's good to see that you avoided that completely.


And I agree with dialogue being entertaining to write. I didn't mention it in the post because I hadn't thought of it while writing, but I too find that dialogue and back-and-forth banter can be very enjoyable to write.

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