Our guest today is Libby Fischer Hellmann who thirty-five years ago left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC, and moved to Chicago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Twelve novels and twenty short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery and crime writing community and has even won a few. Her latest novel Jump Cut—see the book trailer on Youtube—can be pre-ordered at Amazon, for Kobo and iBooks, and at Barnes&Noble.
The “new” publishing world has changed much of what we writers do or expect in promotion, distribution, and editorial guidance. Recently I became aware of how much it’s actually changed the way we write. This blog captures my thoughts on the matter.
Writing Crime Fiction—10 Years Later
Some say the whole world is ADD today. I think it started—or blossomed—with hyperlinks. When I’m reading an article online, I’m often distracted by the hyperlink and click on it for verification or amplification. That has resulted in what could be called “Distracted Reading.”
Like distracted driving, it’s a problem. Our brains can only concentrate on one thing at a time, and our attention spans just can’t keep up. The Pew Research Center agrees. In a recent survey of almost 2,500 teachers, 87% felt modern technologies were creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” And a 2012 article in the Australian Financial quotes neuroscientists who say that technology is affecting our brains, our feelings, and our self-image, sometimes in negative ways.
That has infected novel reading as well. True confession: as a reader, I used to give an author fifty pages to capture my interest. Then it went down to twenty. Today it’s only a few pages before I’m off to the next “bright and shiny” object, er—book.
It’s no surprise that changes in reading habits have affected the book market and marketing. For example, until recently, Amazon “rewarded” shorter works via their Kindle Unlimited program, which paid authors when a mere ten percent of their book was read. That led some authors to produce very short books so that the ten percent minimum was met by just a few pages. While that’s now been addressed (at least for the moment) by Amazon’s new Pages-Read system, the paradigm has inevitably led to changes in writing fiction itself. At least for me. The way I wrote my thirteenth novel was substantially different than the way I wrote my previous twelve. [Read more…]