This blog is the fault result of a question from Cerrisa Kim, on the WITS Facebook page. I’d posted a brilliant Writer’s Digest article about the line between Women’s Fiction and Romance (You can read it HERE).
Cerrissa’s question was more specific though - how I was able to write in two genres? What challenges arose from that? I could have avoided the question, but then she used my name in the same sentence with Barbara Samuel O’Neal’s. *Fan-girl sigh* She had me.
My two genres are WF and Romance, but I think the issues you have to consider, and the problems you run into along the way will be similar, no matter what two genres you write in (I wouldn’t recommend more than two, because you’d be diluting your brand – but more on that later).
Our own Orly Konig Lopez wrote a blog about writing in two genres a while back. You can read it HERE. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
Back? Okay. Here are a few things to consider that may be different in your new genre:
Most YA novels are written in first person, and many Women’s Fiction novels are as well. Do you know how to do that? You may want to do some practice writing to become comfortable with the shift, before you start. First person terrifies me, so I wrote my WF in third person, but I only had ONE POV character. Wow. That’s way different (read: harder) than having two POV characters.
To make it harder (because, of course I have to do that, right?) my character was damaged and closed-off. Which meant she didn’t have a sidekick to bounce ideas off of, and to break the relentless stream of thoughts in her head. Less dialog than my romances, as well. The way I worked around it was to have her act differently than her thoughts. Outside, she was tough and scrappy. Inside, she was out of her element, afraid, and vulnerable.
I could never write MG or YA. Those years are so long past, that I just don't have the voice for it. I'm in awe of people who do.
Historical is a much different voice than contemporary.
Some genres won't be as challenging this way. For example, Horror and romance both usually involve adults, and may both be in the present day (or both historical). WF and romance, though the focus is different, the voice remained the same.
Again, depending on which genres you're skipping from and to, this may be a challenge as well. I chose contemporary, and something I know a lot about (Pro Bull Riding), so this wasn't an issue for me. I highly recommend that you choose a genre that you read. Each genre has different nuances of pacing, plotting and action, and you're not going to understand them on a deep level unless you know the genre, intimately.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages that I discovered by genre skipping:
- A well deserved rest. I'd only written romance before this last book, and I was weary of the tropes, and restrictions in romance. Don't get me wrong, I love the genre, and will write more romances, but it sure was nice, not to have to write one. More. Sex. Scene.
- A new challenge. If we're not learning something new with every book, we're not only getting stale, we're not improving our craft. And that's very important to me, as an writer.
- Freedom. These were new editors, who didn't know me. They wouldn't buy based on a proposal. I had to write the whole book first. I haven't written an uncontracted book since I first sold. It was scary. And very freeing. I didn't have a deadline, staring me in the face, every day I sat down to write. I also didn't have to consider what my editor would want - I was free to write to make myself happy. Wow, I enjoyed the heck out of that.
- Risk. What if I spend all this time, and no one wants it? I thought it was a brilliant premise. I loved the protagonist. But then, I'm kind of odd. What if no one else did?
- Learning curve. I understand romance. I am lucky enough not to get many editorial changes, because I draw between the lines well. Imagine my shock, when I got a 'revise and resubmit' on this WF. I currently am typing with my fingers crossed, hoping my dream house will pick the book up. We'll see.
- Watering down your brand. Again, this depends on what genres you're skipping between. Erotica and Inspirational? MG and Horror? Those are totally different audiences. You may have to build a completely new brand (not to mention using a different name). You'd think romance and WF would share an audience, but you'd be surprised. If you have a happy ending in your WF, you may pull some romance readers who love your voice, but WF readers tend not to read Romance.
Should you genre skip? Only you can decide that. I'll continue doing it - hopefully writing a romance, then a WF, and repeat.
What about you? Have you ever considered genre skipping? Ever tried it? Which genres? Have any advice for us?
She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award in the Best First Book category.
Her 'biker-chick' novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin's Superomance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. Twice in a Blue Moon Releases July 1, and is available for preorder!
In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.