Monthly Archives: May 2014

Writing Disparate Genres

Like most writers, I have reasons why I write what I do. And, like most writers, the writing can grow stale without a catalyst to infuse it with freshness. While I tend to think of freshness as a cleansing breeze, I have recently discovered it can be a tornado, leveling everything, leaving you little choice but to pick through the rubble and start over.

Nearly two decades ago, a younger cousin came to me for help. He wanted to write, but his skills needed honing. At the time, I had a contract pending (that I, later, refused–a long story that I shall spare you), several monthly newsletters for which I was responsible, publicity pieces for our local youth baseball league, a quarterly magazine column, and three teens with myriad obligations and nary a driver’s license yet among them. Being the elder cousin, however, precluded saying no (at the time. I’ve become much brighter since then), so I conjured an alternative: We would work on a Science Fiction Romance together. Although the genre didn’t exist in the 90s, it didn’t matter. This would just be a fun little exercise to help him and let me play (Cuz worked in the aerospace industry, and, although historical romance is my first love, science fiction has been my guilty pleasure since junior high).

Disparate genres. Stretch my wings. Expand my imagination. What could go wrong?

Within days, I created a world, characters, and a folder filled with particulars. I still smile recalling the fun I had, jotting things down as they occurred to me, things that would never fly in historical romance.

Long story short: Life happened. The story, while about three-quarters done, languished in a box (and on floppy disks) for fourteen years. Even so, it wouldn’t die. Cuz and I would meet at family gatherings and it would, invariably, take over the conversation until we finally admitted defeat and did what needed doing.

Enter the aforementioned tornado. Major overhaul. While the core remained viable, things change and much is learned in fourteen years.

I recently typed THE END on that story. I’ve edited it to within an inch of its life, cutting more than 10,000 words, adding half that many, filling holes and oopsies the lengthy hiatus left behind, attending the minutia particular to the world that, over time, dear cuz forgot, and trying to bring it up to snuff. Its evolution has been amazing. It’s a far cry from the original outline, character profiles, and such (which still reside in their white folder on the bookshelf behind my desk), but, thanks to my cousin throwing curve ball ideas at me with the speed of a pitching machine run amuck, it’s all the better for it. (That’s what I get for encouraging him to read Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel.)

The Starship & The Sword has become Book One in our Earth Colony Chronicles. We’re hoping to publish it sometime this summer. Book two is underway.

Thus, our little exercise has become a serious workout.

That brings us back to the title of this piece.

The Seer is a Golden Heart® finalist this year. (I should probably change my blog header to 4x, but does anyone, other than me, really care?) I know I wrote an ending. I didn’t like it, but I wrote it. Now, I can’t find it. I probably deleted it, planning on a rewrite, but I usually save the deleted bits for reference. However, in the interim, I purchased a new computer. It’s possible some bits didn’t make the transition. Whatever the reason, the current manuscript ends with my heroine in the villain’s hands.

Not the end of the world. It needed a new, more dynamic ending anyway. I know what needs be done, but can I do it? No! It’s driving me crazy! I’ve put so much time into Valara & Gordain’s story, making sure the quirks in their language and whatnot are uniform throughout, that I keep finding myself using those same quirks in Anora & Marcus’s story. Which wouldn’t be too horrible if I didn’t transplant them at the same time. Talk about a one track mind. Sheesh.

Here’s why it happens.

Anora & Marcus’s story is set in 1472. Valara and Gordain’s story takes place after our sun dies. That should make it easy enough to differentiate, one would think, but being better versed in the past than the future, yours truly has her genetically engineered heroine interacting with a medieval Celtic Warrior. (If you want to find out how that happens, you’ll have to read the book.) I’ll be in the middle of writing from Marc’s point of view only to realize I’ve given him Dain’s dialect or taken him someplace that doesn’t exist on 15th century Earth.

I told you the story wouldn’t die. It insisted on being told, took residence, and now, like a rubber band kid, won’t leave home.

Therefore, I suggest, if you choose to write in more than one genre, try to keep them sufficiently different to avoid this kind of conflict. It’s maddening in the extreme. I’ve gone so far as to read The Seer from the beginning, editing as I go, hoping to retrain my focus. It works for a while, but then there’ll be a blip, a hiccup, a something, and I’m back at square one.

Where’s a refreshing tornado when you need one?


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