If you’re lucky, you know exactly what you like to read, and if you’re a writer, you’re clear about what you like to write. You know the requirements of the writing you do and you can fit nicely into what the agents can sell, the editors want to buy, fitting perfectly into their marketing plan – are you that lucky? Maybe, and if you are, good for you!
I’m not. And as more cross genre books end up on my TBR pile, I get even more confused. I started writing romance, and then the suspense ended up developing to the point of overshadowing the romance. I thought that meant I wrote romantic suspense. Only, my suspense books all have psychics in them. That’s a paranormal element. Except, according to the contests I entered, there weren’t enough paranormal elements to fit the category. I spent a lot of time trying to sort out the percentages of what went into each and finally threw all the formulas out because I couldn’t write to match them.
I realized that I needed to look at whether any of these elements could be removed and have the story still hold. In my case, none of them could be removed – at least, I didn’t think so. Then the next book evolved into more mystery and less romance. The romantic element was still there and the paranormal elements grew stronger. Not enough to pigeonhole myself as a paranormal writer, however. Sigh.
Although, judging your own work though is no easy feat. There’s an excellent article on this subject that’s worth reading to see where your work falls in the scale here .
Entering contests can add to the confusion. My one manuscript has been a finalist in single title, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, and mainstream fiction with romantic elements, but only the beginning pages were ever read. For years I doubted my own work and wondered what the heck I was actually writing. In fact, I’d finally decided I wrote mainstream fiction – the umbrella term for all of the above. So I started calling my work mainstream or commercial fiction, depending on what agents were requesting – can you see what I’m getting at? My style was fluid.
In reality, however, what it really meant was that I was guessing. Hoping to get an agent that could read my work and say, “Hey, you write paranormals!” Or some other genre.
It wasn’t’ until my manuscript Tuesday’s Child became a finalist in Brava’s Writing for the Stars contest, where editors read the entire manuscript, that I realized, hey, I really do write Romantic Suspense – at least, in that book. It helped settle something inside in relationship to my own writing. My entry is the only romantic suspense in the list of finalists. Is RS dying? I hope not – not now that I know that’s what I write. The bottom line is go with you heart and write the best damn story you can.
So tell me, what genre do you write? Has your genre changed over time? Do you cross the genres Do you write in more than one? Or are you like me – confused a little, hoping for clarity, and willing to be convinced in any direction?
You can learn more about Dale and her work here on her website.