Scarlett Kol | YA Fantasy Author

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I've been working on this book called "Mercury Rises" and it's been tough. Why? Because it is very different from anything I've ever written. First off all my characters are human and -- SPOILER ALERT -- stay human for the entire book. There are no paranormals, no monsters, no ghosts, not even a well placed zombie. I can't even write myself out of a corner by dropping a hell beast into a scene and having my characters fight their way out. I guess I could, it just wouldn't be the same story anymore.

Words are coming slower than I would like and I really need to push to get the same punch that I get in my fantasy writing. There is no magic. Literally.

So why am I submitting to this torture? Because I love it! I love the story and the characters and all their insane humanness. And I can see all these wonderful things I've learned through this project that I can bring back to my other writing once I'm finished. Things like:

1.) Different tropes/rules : Obviously no one wants to a formulaic story, but some genres have certain tropes and expectations. Pacing, descriptions, character arcs or virtually any other aspect can be vastly different from one genre to the next. Learning to navigate different rules and how to bend them can provide new insights on old work and your other experience can breath life into a new genre.

2.) Strong characters make all the difference: We all want well-written, well-rounded protagonists but nothing reinforces this point then venturing into the unknown. A strong character can be a flashlight in your dark hours helping you navigate through unfamiliar territory. A strong character has depth and can work across genres, not just be pigeon holed or type cast in a specific story. I've seen some great authors take their characters from one world/situation and place them in something completely different and the characters still stay their fabulous quirky selves. 

3.) You might like it: Maybe you're high fantasy with elves kind of writer. Maybe it’s romance, or sci-fi, or whatever. And maybe you are really good at it. But what if you are really good at something else too? Being able to write in multiple genres can open doors. You may never do it professionally, but at least you know you can, and could if you wanted to.

No matter what genre you write, you can always benefit from dabbling in a project outside of your comfort zone. You might not want to bite off an entire novel lilke me, but give a short story a try. It'll be worth the experiment.

Anyone else jumped genres? What did you get out of it?

Comments

Keith Willis on Sep 11, 2014 10:10 AM
Hi, Scarlett

I'm in the midst of genre-jumping as well. I have a completed fantasy/adventure/romance novel that I'm currently shopping to agents, and have a second in that series well in hand. But I'm also working on a cozy mystery set in a small fictional city in VT. The fantasy is in 3rd person, the mystery is written in 1st person. It's definitely interesting moving from one to the other. And there are definitely tropes in each genre that come into play.

But you're right--it all comes down to character. I recently had this discussion with another writer--that despite the background of operating in a world in which magic exists and dragons roam the landscape, the story is ultimately about the characters, not the trappings. Or at least it should be. The same holds true with the mystery novel--yes, there's a mystery to solve, but nobody really cares about that per se--what they care about is the person who has to solve it, and what happens to them if they do or don't succeed. Or at least you hope that you've written those characters well enough that the reader cares and is willing to stick with them for 90 - 120,000 words.

Scarlett Kol on Sep 11, 2014 12:02 PM
Yes. Doesn't matter what you write, it depends if readers want to hang out with your characters through a whole book (or more if you write series). Best of luck with your querying :)
Scarlett Kol on Sep 11, 2014 12:02 PM
Yes. Doesn't matter what you write, it depends if readers want to hang out with your characters through a whole book (or more if you write series). Best of luck with your querying :)

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