Hey, everyone! I hope those of you who celebrated had a fabulous Thanksgiving and that everyone else had an awesome Thursday. Today I’m going to be talking the fun, good, and the terrifying parts of trying new genres.
As some of you know, I wrote my first clean horror book not too long ago, The Compact. My publisher thought horror couldn’t be written without cursing and I enjoyed proving that it can be.
I also wrote it without sex scenes, thus staying true to my style. Proving people wrong when they say something can’t be done is a fun part of trying new genres, when I can pull it off. haha Will this always be the case? No and I’m sure there is much more to learn in the horror genre which is why I’m working on another. To try something new can be an absolute blast and either a confidence booster, which we all need sometimes, or a trip back down to earth if our egos have been boosted beyond measure. Putting my spin on genres that would typically be anything but, is a fun brain teaser.
A good thing about writing new genres is that it forces me to think. It’s a challenge to delve into new types of scenes, fresh thought process, and mold my mind in ways I’m not accustomed to. It’s easy to fall into a bit of a rut when writing the same genre or genres all the time. For instance, you don’t have to practice or work on fight scenes or life and death chase scenes when you’re only working in sweet romance. Is there anything wrong with that? No. This being said, fight scenes force a writer to pull in all five senses in order to truly put the reader in the middle of the action. It’s not exactly heart pounding to read:
She was more scared than she had ever been. She ran. (Note, I wouldn’t suggest writing something like this in any genre, show don’t tell, as much as possible.)
If you pull in the way her heart slammed against her ribs, her lungs aching with each slap of her bruised feet against the wet pavement, the musk of the lingering storm suffocating her every breath while her pursuer’s laughter drew closer. It makes things more interesting. This type of immersive writing can also be useful in any other genre. Picture this, a sweet first date. You want the reader to be pulled in just as much with all their senses. She was nervous and knocked over the candles, doesn’t read as well as:
She rubbed her parched tongue against the roof of her mouth, the ghost of the mouthful of mints she’d gulped before dinner lingering on her taste buds. I wonder if it’s true that nervous sweat is smellier than normal sweat… Reaching for her glass, she tries to maintain eye contact and nod along with his story. Crud! What is he saying? I completely lost–Hot! Yelping, she yanks her hand away from the flame of the candle she’d grabbed instead of her glass, sending it teetering over the edge of the table and onto the carpet.
It’s possible to write a decent scene without all the senses in the second genre, but if you’ve been practicing more intense writing, you won’t have to think much about it. It’ll be second nature.
Now to the terrifying. What if I completely and utterly flop at this new genre? That’s a question that will invariably come and that’s okay. Here’s the thing, you might. I might. There is no guarantee that the next book I write, whether in a genre I’m used to, or a new one, will do well. The only thing I can do is give my readers the best I have to offer. When I started work on my first horror book, The Compact, it was easy to think about how many amazing horror authors I know. To wonder if I’m as good as they are. It’s still easy to do this with my second and the first did well! Is my style like theirs? Not in the least, so it’s honestly like comparing a bat to a spider. Both spooky and also completely different things. The same goes for my first real steps into fantasy, which I’m also taking. I’ve written a few shorts, but the two novellas I’m working on are my real journeys into that literary ocean. One is a horror/fantasy hybrid, the other is a fantasy romance. Two completely different animals, but both in the fantasy family. Will either of these books go over well? That’s the hope. I’m doing my best to give readers my all and I’m doing these genres my way. Trying to imitate another author will be the one surefire way to fail. I’ll learn nothing and alienate the reader base that actually likes my style. So, I venture into new territory with humility and hope. I know I have much to learn and may end up falling flat on my nose. Still I try, offering all I have to give, and soaking up lessons along the way.
To any writer thinking of trying something new to them, I encourage you to do so. Will it be easy? No, but it will never get easier if you don’t try. You may find it’s not for you, but you will not ever walk away without having learned and grown in ways that will help the rest of your work. Also, trying something new and never letting it see the light of day is an option. Writing for the joy of trying is still a thing many people forget about anymore. I wish you all the happiest writing.