Do you Worry about Genres While Writing? #ISWG #Author

Why I follow my characters into a genre rather than starting with a genre and fitting characters into it.

This months IWSG question I decided to tackle rather than create a more diverse post. The main reason being, I’ve spent two and a half months writing a manuscript called “Black Marsh,” which is a sequel to “The Bequest.” The latter being about five chapters short of an ending, which is probably not the best way to pick up book two. It was, however, stuck and the prologue to the second one gave me an ending which I can now use to take the first to completion.

The question poised on The Insecure Writer’s Support Group page is this;

SELRES_c3f67566-02b7-4f71-a5d2-c75f00c5017aWhat do you love about the genre you write in most often? 

For me this is a tricky question because I enjoy writing, and many of my manuscripts cross genres. Come to that many of them cross-link in the minutia between stories too, which is as far as I will let thing slip here #spoilers.

My personal favourite reading genres are horror, psychological thriller and epic fantasy such as Lord of the Rings, The Dark Tower or Game of Thrones, with my penchants well and truly stacked at LOTR and Roland Deschain… and yes I did like the movie, but fear it could have been so much more. I might explore that in another post because I’ve read so many bad reviews that I feel some were written by folk that maybe didn’t really know the books. In particular the towers exit at the very end.

I digress.

I don’t actually start with a genre. My blogging community probably knows my work best fits horror, supernatural and psychological thriller. Actual manuscripts, which very few have seen thus far, might see another side. The point being, I start writing and get to know the characters, in particular the one(s) that will become the protagonists. once I am inside their heads I can find the best fit for their psychological profile. It allows me to see what might work best for them. and decide on an antagonist that might mess with them. This is my “get stuck in” approach and see what happens. Often I will put short story testers in posts and gauge the comment reactions. Although, in truth recent times have not seen a great many additions because I’m working up material that is queued.

Once the concept is spawned then the story arc forms and social media goes silent while I immerse into the fiction world and reality swerves to one side. I’m sure in most lines of work that would involve men in white coats and asylums. Authors get away with insanity. People nod and brush it off as some creative personality quirk, while we decide which book to kill them off in.

I suspect most of my tales use psychology as the backbone to collect reader identification with them. At least I try and achieve that objective. If I can get them to invest time into the character then they will care out the cliff they are about to walk off later on.

I feel my answer, to the now forgotten question resting above is, therefore, more about the character profiles and who they are, rather than the genre they are moving into. I enjoy the interplay of emotions, banter, problem solving and changes as the books progress. Often the outcomes are not happy for all, but that’s part of life. I feel if you craft characters well then following them is where my writing engagement flows from. That supersedes the genre they are put into. Moreover, they provide me with the genre best fitting them as individuals

I feel that same effort must go into both protagonists and antagonists, if they happen to be different individuals. If you can’t understand why the antagonist thinks they are, in their view of the world, the protagonist then it weakens their effectiveness. Both are foils to work against each other and I have as much fun creating the antagonist’s backstory as I do the protagonists.

 


If I had to pick a favourite then it would be psychological horror. Not gore and in your face, but gritty and drawing on the mental disturbance it effects in the protagonists. The scope is huge and with each new character comes a new psyche to get readers attached to before things go astray.

I’m a fan of ordinary people placed into extraordinary situations. An example is a betrothed blacksmith in a time gone by that finds trouble as he is about to ask for a hand in marriage.

This one I did run as a series (complete chapter) on my blog under the title;

“Dragon Stone”

This one I want to pick up and turn into a novel.

Another uses a research virologist that finds life as we know it on the verge of an apocalypse. Again this was a short story exploration into the impact of a new form of transmission fit for the modern age and technology.

“The God Strain”

Unfortunately this one stuck in a game over scenario after part two. During Black Marsh and inside some psychological turmoil I found a solution to this problem and may now pick it up again. This again shows how I work inside the characters to create the situations and how cross-linking can impact story progression in other tales.


 

I know every writer finds their own method. Exploring different ideas and systems can help find that narrative voice too. This is the beauty of ISWG, we are all in the same boat and throw out posts once a month for other writers to look at and, hopefully, see something they can be inspired by or think differently about.

That and get listed on the blog list associated with the group. To wit, there are some amazing writers blogs to visit and it would be churlish to pass up an opportunity to join in. The link is at the top of this post.

 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 


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20 Comments

  1. Maybe that is why I like your writing ‘style’…because (besides the horror-in-your-face) I read many genres and I like that you cross more genres than one in a story.
    Another favorite writer, Richard M. Ankers once stated he hates genres, or at least being put in a specific genre-box. If I remember correct, because it somehow limits/bounds a writer.
    Favorite authors Preston&Child, B.C. Schiller, Alexander Hartung, Tanya Cliff…to be honest, no idea what genre they write.
    So, I think as a writer it is wise to not restrict yourself and being to hung upon a genre to much. On the other hand, maybe for selling reasons he/she should?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Patty. In truth I was expecting a lot of comments saying why writers should stick to a genre in a book. The one thing that makes approaching agents and publishers hard is their insistence on categorising the novel. Give it a genre so we know how to handle it or process it to the right person. Standardised courses also say genre this it that and yet I write about ordinary people placed into extraordinary situations. Do I walk down a street and start people watching slotting them into genres? No! I empower the characters to walk in their worlds the way that is natural to them (hopefully) and that is why they cross boundaries. Force fitting simply doesn’t work for me.

      Re selling and marketing…again you hit it. Bag and tag is easier. I think publishers are seeing that newer writers want to cross boundaries though. I think that’s more positive and progressive. It, hopefully, gives more realism or character identification and let’s them think more. Of course that could be me merely describing what I like to read!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks April, I start from a readers perspective. What do I like in a book and why do I like particular authors. Keeping that in mind as a writer helps to try and remember why I read. Character development is the bit that people tend to grab onto, invest time on and start caring what happens to them. Get that wrong and a brilliant plot never gets read. Although…that’s clearly my view on what I read 🙃

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janice, the link updates the question once a month. That’s just an idea, those involved are free to contribute anything positive that helps writers. The only criteria is using their hashtag on the first Wednesday of every month. Commiting to that allows entry onto their #ISWG blog list so we can all link up. That can also be accessed via the link too.

      Liked by 1 person

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