IWSG · Writing

IWSG: What Is Your Favourite Genre to Write In?

I’ve always followed the old writing advice that in order to write, you need to read – a lot. Over the years I’ve read so many genres, that when it came to actually writing, I could never decide where I actually fit. It wasn’t until recently when I had my short stories professionally edited that I may have realised what was staring me in the face. I was told I had a ‘knack’ for horror.

Growing up, I watched a lot of television and movies. Watching the Gothic horror and mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock at the cinema (yes, showing my age now), fascinated me and I leaned heavily toward lots of horror movies, including anything from Alfred Hitchcock. I fell in love with The Addams Family and anything Gothic. I was about ten when I accidentally discovered the Gothic Romance novel Dragonwyck and I was hooked. From there I went on to devour any book from Stephen King that I could get my hands on. And the 1980s was very big for horror! 😉

I guess horror was a natural fit as I was always fascinated by the paranormal, especially ghosts. In more recent years I have visited some haunted places and have come away with experiencing something.

It’s the thrill of being scared; an adrenalin rush. Like being on a roller coaster – it’s a high! Monsters can be scary, but also fascinating. It’s the unknown that makes one curious and question our existence. It’s not just monsters either as horror can also take the form of mankind, leaving us to wonder what we are truly capable of. Horror can also lurk within the natural environment too.

Horror is surrounded by suspense and mystery; you’re too frightened to know what lurks beyond, but at the same time you’re curious to find out. Alfred Hitchcock is famous for building suspense, which is a handy skill to know when it comes to writing. We really want our readers to keep turning the pages and not put our stories down until they get the answers they seek.

My writing may be a mix of genres, but so too is horror. And besides, I think it’s a fun genre to write in and shouldn’t we be writing what we enjoy? 😉

Do you enjoy horror? Are you fascinated by the paranormal? What is your favourite genre to write in and why?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

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This Writer's Life · Writing

Follow Your Muse.

Recently, as I was making enquires into having my short stories professionally edited (yes, I’m finally making this big step forward), one asked what genre they were in. This was an interesting question because I really had to think about my answer. Lately, my writing tends to be a variety of different genres.

When I asked my husband, this is how the conversation turned out:

‘What genre would you say my writing is?’

‘Dark’.

‘That’s not a genre’.

‘Okay. Macabre’.

‘That’s not a genre either’.

As you can see, this was not getting me anywhere! In the end, I put the genres of my short stories down to paranormal, crime and general fiction.

This question certainly gave me pause for thought, because lately, I have been wondering this myself. Many years ago, when I first began writing, I recall reading somewhere that in order to write I needed to read and read widely. So, I took up that advice, which is why now, I’m finding it difficult to place my writing into just one ‘box’. This demonstrates another good advantage to indie publishing, as one has the freedom to experiment with their writing.

Of course, all this thinking can be seen as another stalling tactic. Who me, overthink things? My fear is so great that I am using my writing as an excuse to prevent myself from moving forward. I also believe that platform anxiety has also played its part.

I truly do envy writers who write in one genre; at least they know which way their muse is taking them. For writers like me, I’m still finding my way. So, for now, I have decided that I should just go wherever my muse takes me. All I know for certain is that my muse prefers to take me down some dark, deserted paths. 😉

Do you follow wherever your muse takes you? Do you find your writing fits in more than one ‘box’? If you write in more than one genre, do you use a pen name or stick with what you’re already using?

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Writing · Writing Process

Writing in More than One Genre.

Before the end of last year, I began to consider writing in a different genre. I think it’s good for writers to experiment and find out what works and what doesn’t. It takes us out of our ‘comfort zones’ and gives that elusive muse plenty to work with. For quite some time writing a romance remained in the back of my mind and for someone that doesn’t always write happy endings, the thought had become quite a challenge.

I always envied those authors that chose one particular genre and stuck with it. My muse would jump from one idea to another, leaving me wondering what genre I actually wrote in and therefore making it difficult to ‘brand’ myself on social media.

More recently, though, the more I looked into my chosen genres, the more I realised that they all kind of blend in together. As I mainly write paranormal, at least romance can always be included. My current work in progress is the ‘novel’ I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2015 and a romantic element plays a major role. Yes, it’s a mess, but I am having fun with it and could well be the longest thing I have written so far.

Recently I read a post from Cait Reynolds on Kristen Lamb’s blog regarding genre, which posed some interesting issues. If you haven’t already read it, it’s well worth a look. The main takeaway regarding genres is this – pick a genre and stick with it for about three years and keep other genres to a minimum. For someone who has had issues with plot bunnies for many years, this became a bit of a wake-up call.

Writing can be fun, especially if we give our muse free rein, which is great for those of us who write as a hobby or are just starting out. The thing is, though, if we are seriously considering publication, we may need to focus on one genre for a while (preferably the one that we get the most pleasure in). This allows us time to establish a readership.

Writing in one genre shouldn’t stop our muse completely; we just need to keep our ideas in different genres on the back burner for a little while before we can take our readers along for the ride.

Do you agree with sticking with one genre before trying something else? Do you struggle to control your plot bunnies? Have you published in different genres and how has that worked for you? If you write in more than one genre, are they similar genres or completely different?

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Writing · Writing Process

Writing In a Different Genre.

As an unpublished writer, I have the luxury of experimenting with what I write and how I write it. Recently one morning I woke up with an idea for a story title. I thought it sounded good – if I wrote in that particular genre. And therein lay the problem. Was my subconscious mind trying to tell me something?

For years I have struggled with this. No, I do not write romance, simply because I do not always like to see a happy ending. And right there are two important words – not always. So, sometimes I do like to see happy ever afters. In my teenage years I devoured Sweet Dreams Romance books, was introduced by a friend to Mills & Boon and enjoyed reading Jane Austen so much, back then I wanted to write just like her (yes, seriously). And just for balance I also read a lot of Stephen King (can you see my dilemma now?) 😉 This is why I believed my writing would be more suitable to women’s fiction, and my longest short story so far reflects that as there is no happy ending.

After I left High School, I wrote to Mills & Boon and received submission guidelines and a tape on how to write for them. Try as I might, I just couldn’t do it. I believed I could not write a romance, but perhaps the real problem for me was that they were too formulaic.

Perhaps, also, my greatest resistance to writing a romance is because I always looked at it in terms of the novel. As I enjoy writing in the shorter form and thanks to self-publishing, lately I have some ideas for romances of short story/novella length. It is a starting point to stepping out of my comfort zone and experimenting at the same time. Who knows if it will lead to something or not, but clearly such thoughts have remained repressed for some time. It just needed a little push. 😉

Do you write in different genres? Have you resisted writing a particular genre or are you happy to experiment? Has your subconscious told you something about your own writing and have you acted upon it?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Movies/Television · Writing

3 Reasons Writers Should Watch Television.

woman watching tvI’ve read advice in the past that writers should either cut down on watching television or don’t watch television at all. In order to get more writing done, we need to prioritise and make the most of our time. That’s a very valid point as the key is to live by the old rule ‘everything in moderation’. However, it would appear that this is the ‘golden age of television’, so there are still valid reasons in which to make the most of our television viewing as writers.

1. Research

One of the more enjoyable ways in which to start your research is by watching television. Things like documentaries and real life stories can not only provide you with interesting facts, but can also help fire your imagination and allows you to dig deeper. I have a tendency to watch television shows that explore the darker side of life, and therefore, there are some situations where I need to catch a glimpse of first-hand accounts. Through watching such shows, I can envisage certain situations for my characters and assist with certain elements within my stories.

2. Characters

Like some of the books you read, one of the first things you may think of when it comes to television shows is the characters. Some can be larger than life, like Gene Hunt on Life on Mars or maybe a group of characters that work so well together they almost feel like family (Firefly and Criminal Minds for example). There are also times when a character leaves the show, that the show may never be the same again – think Mulder in The X-Files. My husband said at the time ‘Mulder IS The X-Files’ (and yes, happy dance that it’s staging a comeback 🙂 ), which demonstrates the importance of characters within a show; sometimes you can’t have one without the other. When it comes to writing our own characters, we really have to work hard on making them as unique and realistic as possible. We need to ask ourselves what makes ours different? Watching television can help.

3. Genre

Watching television can give us a good insight into particular genres, including our own and allows us to ask questions about our own stories. What shows in particular genres have become popular and why? What has been done differently within this particular genre and how can I apply something similar within my own writing? Sometimes you can take an idea from a show and ask yourself ‘what if?’ and apply it to a different genre with a completely different outcome. We can learn from watching television, not only for our own writing, but it can also give us an idea of what the public wants.

Since getting pay television installed in our house last winter, I’m the first to admit I have been watching more television that I used to. I am, however, watching shows that not only interest me, but I know they will help me with my writing projects. Next time you watch television, remember to put your writer’s cap on – you just might learn something. 😉

Has watching certain television shows helped you with your writing? Do you find watching television a distraction from your writing and not watch it at all? Were you disappointed to see the end of Firefly? Are you happy to see the return of The X-Files? What shows/characters do you like best?

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Writing

Beginner Writers: Finding Your Writer’s Voice.

Mr Men familyBeing a writer these days can be difficult; expectations are high.  As well as writing great books, we’re also required to be marketing gurus.  We can become so bogged down with too much noise that our muse can sometimes get lost.

When we’re new to writing and begin writing our stories, it’s exciting.  We’re so full of enthusiasm that we’re likely to try our hands at just about anything – even the latest trends, or the more popular genres.  I know; I’ve been there myself.  I used to see certain genres as my way of ‘making it’ as a writer.  But is all of this really to do with pleasing ourselves or with pleasing others?  We can spend our whole lives pleasing other people, but here’s the rub – pleasing other people all the time can become draining, physically as well as emotionally.  When we write, we need to please ourselves first and foremost; otherwise, where is the pleasure in it?

When it comes to writing we need to be true to ourselves.  Rather than imitate other authors, we need to dare to be different.  It will help our work stand apart from those other books upon the shelves and one sure way to make our name memorable.  Kristen Lamb has a great blog post on Steve Jobs and 5 Tips for Being a Successful Author which I highly recommend.

I had been writing for many years and the only pieces of writing I ever had published were either non-fiction pieces or poetry.  The problem was I had read so many different genres, I therefore wrote in such a wide variety of them that I didn’t have any real focus.  Yet, despite all of this, over the years the fiction writing I did not only helped me in my craft, but helped steer me towards my chosen genres.  I experimented with what worked for me and what didn’t; I stretched myself as a writer until eventually I was writing for me – I had lost all interest in trends and writing in genres I wasn’t comfortable with.  I had finally found my voice.

While watching The Book Club a few months back, guest author China Mieville said something that caught my attention and I just had to write it down. He said: ‘The job of a writer is not to give the readers what they want; the job of a writer is to make readers want what we give’. It’s a valid point and one that he has apparently been saying for years. He believes this might make the writers’ job harder, but it also makes it much more interesting.

Yes, our writing needs to be something that both readers and publishers will like, but it also needs to be something that we ourselves will like. Forget the latest trend; instead concentrate on your craft in order to find your own unique voice. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your writing, but write with passion. If you don’t feel that, neither will your readers.

Are you struggling to find your writer’s voice? Are you experimenting with your writing? Do you agree with China Mieville? Do you have difficulties with focusing on one task at a time?

Image by Debbie Johansson.

Books · Monsters, Myths & Mayhem · Writing

Raising the Stakes – More Vampires in YA Fiction?

Whenever I had visited the local bookshop these past few months (okay, Big W, I admit I’m cheap), I would be dismayed at the sight of so many paranormal romances within the Young Adult section. Back in July, after reading the discussion post on Wonderous Reads Are You Over Paranormal YA? it made me consider my options as a writer of the paranormal. Here’s some of what people had to say:-

  • Young adults are becoming tired of paranormal romances.
  • Young adults might want paranormal, but no more vampires, werewolves, fairies. (Note to self: what other paranormal is there?)
  • Young adults would like to see paranormal from the viewpoint of different countries.
  • Young adults want strong female protagonists (think Hunger Games).
  • Fantasy and horror genres may be the next big ‘thing’.

Now, admittedly this is just a handful of people’s opinions (with some handy information for a writer), however, it made me wonder that perhaps my very own YA vampire novel would have to remain in the bottom drawer for many years yet. Then came the announcement of a teenage writer landing a six-figure deal for a vampire story. Was it right or wrong in believing that readers were ‘over’ vampire stories?

Considering the positives of this announcement it is good news for writers in the paranormal/horror genre.  It gives new writers the opportunity to get published.  As writers, we need to come up with new ideas, as clearly evidenced by the reader’s comments.  With genres becoming more and more intertwined, the possibilities are becoming limitless.

When Harry Potter was released, there was a surge in the popularity of fantasy fiction, which was good news for fantasy writers.  Like everything else, trends come and go, and when it is the time for our chosen genre we just have to ride it out, until it is some other genre’s turn.  We write in our chosen genres because we love it, not because we want to write whatever is popular and this passion will come through in our writing.  Ever since the publication of Dracula back in 1897, vampires have stayed in the public’s imaginations, so they will always be a part of our psyche. They have evolved over the years because there were writers who were willing to do that for them.

I’m prepared to raise the stakes and breathe life in my vampire novel once again – are you?

Are you over paranormal for young adults? Do you see this announcement as good news for the future of the horror/paranormal genre? What do you see as being the next ‘trend’ in young adult fiction?

Image by Debbie Johansson.