There are several memes that state an author’s browsing history should be ignored and/or immediately deleted. We can find ourselves researching the strangest subjects, all of which are perfectly innocence. (One would hope anyway!) I think the most alarming subject for anyone to find on my history would be wanting to know under what conditions a body can dry out and become mummified. Yep, I researched that! This relates to a novel yet to be finalized, The Giving Thief and I will not be giving any hints as to why.
When I wrote The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy, I required medical procedures and medicines from the English medieval period. There were several ‘cures’ I think would have given the poor patient an impossible decision whether to suffer the illness or the cure! Most of the ‘research’ for these novellas was personal experience of medieval castles during visits to such sites in England, and history lessons when I lived there.
Another backburner manuscript is Willow Tree Tears, which resulted in my gaining knowledge of barrel racing. I had never been to a rodeo at the time of initially writing the book, so did some internet research. However, I was fortunate to connect with a couple of barrel racing champions, who were very helpful in their advice. It has made the narrative a lot better.
The Twesome Loop is a reincarnation romance incorporating my interest in that specific subject. My interest began during my nursing days, when a couple of incidents led me down the path to find literature on the topic.
In Life in Slake Patch, I needed to find a natural element that could hinder pregnancy, either temporarily or permanently. Surprisingly, I found one,
When I was writing The Commodore’s Gift, I needed to immerse myself in the steampunk genre, and found a plethora of mechanical devices. I also needed to know the most crucial areas to incapacitate a person with a blade!
As author’s we can get immersed in the research, but it is also a great learning tool that we, in turn pass onto our readers. We need to be careful to know our subject because an expert will pick up on any irregularities or misinformation. As the saying goes, we learn something new every day.
What is the ‘strangest’ thing you have researched?
As many of you know, I am a multi-genre author, where the story is the motivator not the genre. However, there are some obstacles to this due to the ‘business’ side of writing. Mainly, how to promote myself as opposed to the genre I have written?
I have read many ‘book promotion and marketing’ articles, all of which target specific audiences for genre. You can easily target one genre, such as romance, thriller, and mystery but how do you cross genre lines in promotion?
One answer is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership – regardless of genre. So in essence you will need to develop a strategy to create a hybrid solution of your own.
Another option is to write a book that will appeal to the fans of your new genre and not the fans you already have. The plot, cover, and blurb should all be consistent with the genre you want to write in. This can be accomplished by adding your own flourishes to the genre.
You have the ability to create your own style, and unique voice by combining recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing. You can tie a common thread between all the genres you choose to write. After delving into this I have found that love in all its forms are represented in my narratives, whether parental, friendship or lover.
It is much less about genre, and more about what readers have come to expect in your books/writing. It’s in the way you do it – as well as how it’s perceived and interpreted by your audience. Let’s take a look at how writing in more than one genre is a benefit: • It requires different strengths and allows you to push your limits and abilities–learn, test, experiment, polish. • It lets you explore your wider interests without limitation. • It allows new writers especially to explore various genres before determining the right “fit” for their style, voice and passions. • It is often not a conscious decision–many writers are compelled to follow the Muse.
So what are the Pros and Cons? Pros: 1. Writing what you want It is wonderfully fulfilling to explore new ideas and create something new that challenges you in unique and exciting ways. 2. Wider audience Writing a new genre may attract new readers, who wouldn’t have found your work otherwise. And hopefully they will check out your previous works thus cultivating a broader, wider readership. 3. Versatility Being versatile will sharpen your skills as a writer and may attract a publisher in that genre or other new opportunities. Your ability to handle a variety of genres is always a plus. 4. Broader community While writing in new genres and categories, you will get to know other writers in that genre and extend your writing community in the process.
Cons: 1. Losing readers This is obviously the biggest con of switching genres. Your current readership may not pick up your new book at all as they consider you a writer in a particular genre and may be more discerning about picking up a title of yours in the future. 2. More juggling Writing in multiple genres requires more juggling with your marketing and promotion as you need to change from one single cohesive marketing plan into two or more. And if you’re working on multiple projects at once, you’ll have to handle multiple publishing deadlines, contracts, etc. 3. Multiple brands The worst case scenario is having to start a completely new brand for the ‘other’ genre. You may need to write under a pen-name and devote time to building that platform. It could be you start from scratch in your branding, or utilize your platform in a broader form. To do this you need to find the common ‘theme’. (Not an easy task I might add!) 4. Writing confusion The other challenge is juggling multiple genres from a writing perspective and requires a lot of hard work and skill to accomplish successfully. Each genre has its own conventions you need to establish and refine using vastly different voices traits and tones, while meeting readers’ expectations.
More recently, many alternative genres have been created, which combine genres into a sub-genres. For example, romance readers would never go to the horror section first, but if the description was something like – romantic suspense – then maybe they would pick up your book. This has enabled authors to promote their books in one or more genres. I have investigated what my ‘brand’ or ‘theme’ is in my writing and after quite some time realized it is a basic theme of love – be it romantic, parental, friendship or some other kind – so in essence I can use that title within the more traditional genre headings. It is a matter of looking at your story and defining the main theme, even if it is an underlining thread throughout the narrative. My novel, Life in Slake Patch is an alternative world order but basically has a young man trying to change the ‘laws’ so he can be with the woman he loves. It can be described as speculative fiction but romantic speculative fiction is better.
My novel, The Twesome Loop is also romance but has an added reincarnation element as well as set in England and Italy, so is it romance alone or do I possibly create a sub-genre: suspense romance? As I am writing, I realized another sub-genre would fit my fantasy, The Rython Kingdom, which is set in medieval England, has a romance and a master plot by a vengeful witch so maybe it is fantasy or historical romance?
Do you write multiple genres?
How do you promote them? Separately or within a broader brand under your name?
We have all felt disheartened as writers. It can manifest itself in a variety of forms. Lack of impetus, illness, stress, unrealistic comparisons, self expectations or stumbling over a particular section in a writing project. Some call it writers block. In truth it is just life.
Here are some tips to bring you back your writing mojo.
1. Focus on enjoying telling your stories. Do it to the best of your ability.
2. Remember you are building an inventory of your writing but also learning your craft.
3. Lessen your expectations, don’t be so hard on yourself. Yes, we all want a certain quality to our work, but with patience it will come. There is no quick fix.
4. Don’t compare another writer’s finished work against your in process drafts. You have no idea how many changes they made.
5. Remember you get to rule over your own creative process. You choose, shape, mold, and create whatever you want.
6, Your words will, in time, sway minds, move hearts, and touch the lives of dozens of people you will never meet in person.
7. Your words, your stories are your legacy.
8. Do not take rejection personally. Think of it as a learning tool.
9. Take a long-term view of your writing career – no-one is ever an overnight success.
10. Participate in supportive writer groups. Share your work with encouraging friends.
What have you found works for you when you are feeling disheartened?
When creating a story the main element is the characters within the narrative. To ensure we, and our readers, can visualize and become empathic with these protagonists and antagonists, we need to take into account their personalities and backstory. We can begin by asking questions to enable us to create a fully formed character.
What is this character’s name?
Names are a vital first impression for your reader. It can denote an age, location or era. Research names for your story that will fit time and place. You may also chose a name that has a significant meaning.
2. How old are they?
You can state a character’s age, or allude to it with their reactions, preferences or actions.
3. What do they look like?
You can give subtle clues to your character’s looks through careful descriptions rather than listing their physical features. For example, the steamed up mirror gradually revealed her wet long black hair. He easily picked the box off the top shelf.
4. Who are they?
Utilize a character’s occupation, a prominent personality trait, or interaction to give your reader a glimpse at them.
5. Where are they?
Ensure the location of your scenes is ‘visible’ to your reader. A dark room, a summer day in the park or a sandy beach. Place your character within these locations and have them interact with their surroundings.
6. What era/season/day do they inhabit?
With historical fiction, or date/era sensitive stories this is important so your readers are orientated to where your characters live.
7. Who are your characters interacting with?
Name other characters within a scene, this is usually accomplished through dialogue, or interaction.
8. How do they relate to the other character(s)?
Create scenes that help your reader understand the relationships between your character’s. For example, Tom laid his hand on Cheryl’s shoulder as she typed up the letter. She shrugged her distaste at her boss’s physical touch. Tom positioned himself on one side of her desk and grinned.
9. What is your character accomplishing in each scene?
Each scene should relay what your character is trying to accomplish, with whom and how. Give your readers enough information, but also ask questions on what happens next.
10. Keep your character’s plight foremost.
Keep your reader engaged with curiosity, emotional investment, or sympathy for your character, this will keep them present in the story.
Remember to be true to your story but also your readers expectations within the specific genre.
Do you have certain questions you ask your characters? Care to share?
I have once again taken advantage of our local Writer in Residence program hosted by my library. Last week, I attended a virtual presentation entitled Writing Three Dimensional Characters That Sing. It was a highly informational session. As writers we are always learning and taking the time to learn is essential in improving our writing craft.
There was an extra bonus to this year’s writer in residence as she is an acquaintance and a great writer and writing community advocate. Rayanne Haines is the author of seven books, including three poetry collections. Her artistic practice focuses on projects that look to redeem and empower women’s narratives. In addition to her writing, teaching, and festival work, she also produces/curates intersectional feminist poetry films and panels with authors across Canada. Her current work focuses on mental health and intergenerational female trauma.
Having the opportunity to access a writing mentor and their free services through this program enables local writers to gain insight into their work. The program services include individual manuscript consultations, public readings and talks, information on the publishing process and networking with the writing community.
Do you have a similar program where you live?
What devices, programs and events do you use to learn your craft?