The school story generally centers on older pre-adolescent and adolescent school life in the first half of the twentieth century. Other narratives do exist in other countries, but the most common theme is English boy or girl boarding schools reflecting the single-sex education typical until the 1950s. The focus is on friendship, honor and loyalty between pupils with plots involving sports events, bullies, secrets, rivalry and bravery.
The popularity declined after the Second World War, but remained popular in other forms, changing the focus to state run coeducational schools, and more modern concerns such as racial issues, family life, sexuality and drugs. The genre’s revival was due to the success of the Harry Potter series, with its many plot motifs.
The first boarding school story was The Governess, or The Little Female Academy by Sarah Fielding, published in 1749. A moralistic tale relaying the lives of nine girls in the school established aspects of the boarding school story repeated in later works. Fielding’s approach was imitated and used by both her contemporaries and other writers into the 19th century.
Even though children were not generally targeted until well into the nineteenth century, due to the concern of moral effects of novels on young minds, and so published narratives tended to lean towards moral instruction. The genre’s peak period was between the 1880s and the end of the Second World War, later comics featuring school stories became popular in the 1930s.
School stories do remain popular, with their shifting focus on more contemporary issues such as sexuality, racism, drugs and family difficulties. As we all know the Harry Potter series has revived the genre significantly, despite it’s fantasy conventions.
Do you (or did you) read school story novels/comics?
Today’s post is more personal as I am a multi-genre author. I would welcome your comments on how you brand, promote and market when writing multi-genres.
The definition of ‘writer’ is 1. a person who has written a particular text. 2. a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation. 3. a person who writes in a specified way.
As you can see the definition predisposes that a writer will create narratives in a specific way or genre. However, what if a writer wants to write the ‘story’ not the genre?
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.
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 romance?
Do you write multiple genres?
How do you promote them? Separately or within a broader brand under your name?
My dear friend, Linda and I escaped for three days into the Rocky mountains. These are some of the images of our trip. Included were a lake cruise on Maligne Lake to Spirit Island, discovery of a wildlife area called Beaver Boardwalk, Hinton, visiting Jasper and driving through the National Park and encountering wildlife as well as driving on highway 40 (unpaved) and exploring small hamlets such as Cadomin, Robb, Entwhistle and Evansburg. Enjoying the breeze off the lakes, Maligne and Isle and being at peace with nature.
Good company, ease of spirit and relaxation what more can a person need?
I read this blog piece a few days ago http://tatterhoodblog.com/2014/03/16/siri/ , which resonated with me on many levels. We are fortunate to have the ability to connect with people from all over the world with the click of a button. Barring time differences we can speak face to face with them as well as converse via various technologies unthought-of in quite recent history. Technology can be a burden but also a gift. Personally, I have met other writers from as far away as America and Warsaw, to name just two. People I would never have met any other way. The American writer posted on a non-writing site and our reponses to a topic were so familiar we began emailing each other. After several months, we found out our lives were mirrors of each other’s life experiences. This culminated in us visiting each ‘homes and becoming firm friends. We call each Soul Sister. The young woman from Warsaw, blogged how she felt alone in her writing, this was a call I could not ignore, so responded with a membership to my writers group as we have virtual as well as local members. www.wfscsherwoodpark.com She has since managed to publish her work and enjoys the connection with other writers. This is the positive side of the internet, as well as research possibilities for anything under the sun, we care to find out about. Our curiosity for knowledge can be satisfied with almost no effort at all.
However, not all connections can become physical ones and that is the shame of the internet. We cannot jump on a ‘plane at the drop of a hat in order to travel to far away countries to visit these contacts, for the most part. Our ‘relationships’ are limited to short conversations and ‘funny’ facebook posts. In short it is not a’ true’ friendship with shared experiences but that being said, still important connections for a host of reasons.
Do we hold these ‘virtual’ relationships above physical ones though? Are we so wrapped up in them that we do not connect with those around us?
How many of you open a conversation in a coffee shop, on a train or bus, even in the food store? People around us are as interesting as those on the computer screen. Has technology taken this ability away? I remember watching my Mother striking up conversations with complete strangers all the time. As a shy child I found this alarming but as I grew up I realized without human contact, we become isolated in a crowd.
We should not be afraid to connect with people – everyone has an interesting story to share after all. Who knows it might be a story idea.
What has been your experience with internet contacts?