Follow Your Pen

In this article I want to give you an overview about different genres that you might write for, or be interested in. I weigh in with the pros and cons of such genres and what it can be like writing for them. Romance, for example has a huge audience, but it’s often the same story over and over again but with slight variations to it. So how can you, as a Romance Author, stick out? I discuss this, and many other points below.

Romance is a tricky genre to get right. Certainly, anyone can write about the typical teen romance, especially if they’ve read a couple of them, but if you want to go outside the normal bounds of what is considered a romance, such as the LGBT route, Asexuality or any other differences, it can take some interesting writing to keep it within the realm of this genre. Not to say that LGBT or Aces are any less legitimate or compelling, just that it isn’t a usual choice. As it is, keeping a hetero relationship fresh and exciting instead of being “another Twilight” is difficult as well. Be prepared to bring new ideas to the table in order to keep your audience enthralled!

The Young Adult genre is not that hard to crack, my first novel was partly this genre and it gave me direction in the book that it otherwise might not have had. Finding yourself is a common topic and it never gets old—everyone finds different things out at different points in time, and the range of ages that this genre covers is a tumultuous time in many people’s lives anyway. They are simultaneously figuring themselves out as well as figuring out the world around them. The only issue is not having the main character figure everything out at the end, because most often this is not a fairytale ending sort of genre. However, feel free to make it what you want. Don’t be afraid to break the mold.

The enthralling suspension and twists and turns of a mystery plot can keep anyone busy—as the reader! Imagine what the author has to do in order to write these books. To be completely honest, much of the mystery genre is full of murder mysteries. The allure of this genre is the rough and tumble cop plodding his way through deception and the red tape that keeps cops on the up-and-up, who finally veers off course in order to solve the mystery. This may come back to bite him, it may not. Either way, the whole idea is to solve the mystery. It’s a beautiful genre, and if I had more patience I might even contribute to it; I personally do not want to invest much of my energy into researching murders and how criminals get caught due to one tiny piece of evidence and a gutsy detective. It may not be the genre for me, but I sure do enjoy watching crime dramas such as Castle unfold on television.

The largest genre out there is Fiction. This encompasses a lot of other genres, if you get right down to it—these days, however, this genre tends to take whatever is a fictional story that doesn’t fall into the sub-categories. At the moment this means books with the target audience of adult age, post-apocalyptic novels that don’t fit in with fantasy, teen or other genres and many, many others. This isn’t a terrible genre, in fact it’s one of the best! However, it does give you a lot more freedom, with hardly any focus other than ‘this didn’t really happen’. For someone like me, who finds it easier to write as an escape, this genre often deals with aspects of life I would rather leave behind. Because of that, I don’t venture too far into this genre.

Sci-fi and Fantasy are my favourite genres to write in. I personally find them to be the easiest to write, as I can escape into worlds of my own creation, superpowers and things I wish were real but sadly aren’t. I feel so free to come up with whatever I want out of plots, sub-plots and varieties of people. However, there are some parts of these genres that can be quite hard to work around. In the Science Fiction genre, for instance, some modicum of knowledge about space is usually required. At the very least physics as we know it and science in general is a great foundation. At least in the Fantasy genre there’s almost complete freedom to ignore science. Not so much if you’re going for strict Sci-fi. If you’re up for blending the two genres, it then gets interesting. You have exceptions to rules more and more often. Needless to say this genre has boundless room for creativity and originality; however it can also be hazardous terrain if you’re not willing to put some thought into your writing.

While I do label Fiction as the largest genre out there, Non-Fiction also has quite a large scope. The unfortunate side, I find, to Non-Fiction is the creativity is lacking. You’re writing about either something, someone or an event that happened in the real world. Listing facts and coming to conclusions about things. It all seems rather boring; however these books also make great references. For example, self-help books can fall into this category. Helpful information can come in the form of encyclopedias and reference guides. While writing for this genre may not hold the escapist’s heart and soul, it certainly isn’t a genre that shouldn’t exist. This is the genre for passing on knowledge in the purest form; this is the most noble of the genres.

Erotica was a small genre—when I was working at a book store we had a tiny little four foot section that didn’t have very much in it. We often had to seed other books into it that didn’t really fit that description. By the end of my stint there, the section was nearly overflowing. What turned it around? More people willing to write for this genre. More people who don’t find it despicable or not okay to read. So this genre has grown to a size where mentioning it as a valid genre is relatively commonplace. So what is Erotica? It’s the sex books, right? Partially. Erotica isn’t always just about sex. That may be the whole reason for reading it, but there are plots and even though they are often predictable and just around as an excuse to write the sexy scenes, it still draws enough of a fanbase that it’s worth discussing. The downside to this genre? Often you’re a ghostwriter. Whether you are or are not, it doesn’t seem to matter because all of the characters are unimaginative, have a one-track mind and are often 2-dimensional. The upside? You get to write adventuresome scenes dealing with a topic that is so often only implied (if that) in other novels.

Genres are all up to the individual. Even though I would never find myself writing a Non-Fiction book that doesn’t mean that it isn’t someone else’s forte. I hope that this guide gives a somewhat helpful look into what writing for each one is like, so you might find it easier to figure out where your heart lies. For me, I love Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I dabble here and there in other genres so that way I don’t get sick of writing the same thing over and over again. It’s okay to not just stick to one genre—it’s okay to just write for one genre. You’re the writer, follow your pen!

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The Perfect Romance Doesn’t Exist

Almost every novel has a romantic plot and/or subplot, the same can be said of any creative piece—love and intimacy have been a common theme for a very long time, and because it’s found so often there are times when it’s done right and done wrong. So here’s a little bit of poke in the right direction so your romantic entanglements are written in a solid, coherent manner.

One of the first points of contention is whether the love interest for your character is more than just that—a love interest. Do they carry their own story line? If not, you might want to take a second look. In order to endear a relationship to the audience, you must first endear the characters to them. This means making each character a well-rounded, whole character with depth and dimension. Every person walks their own path in life, learning their own lessons; if you don’t have the time to follow the other character through their arc, at least make references to these struggles through dialog or your main character noticing a difference in their love interest. This can be exemplified by Allison Argent’s character in MTV’s Teen Wolf series.

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Now that’s all fine and good, but does the love interest also have flaws? They might go through struggles, but that doesn’t always mean that they emerge a hero on the other side. Sometimes external struggles lead to internal ones, or vice versa. It gives a character depth and a plot arc all their own to contend with while going through the main plot of the book. It’s sometimes difficult to add in these various eccentricities and complex behaviors to pieces, but inferences and implications of these internal struggles can be show easily by deliberation before action; out-of-character action, word usage or behavior; and attitude. In Allison Argent’s case, she goes dark-side for the better part of a season due to the death of someone close to her. In the end she came out of it in one piece and stronger than ever, but it was a very interesting arc to give to a character that began as a weakly structured love interest.

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Now that your love interest’s character is filled out and a dynamic almost-human being, you want to give thought to the relationship. Is this the type of relationship that starts out very quickly and the two are suddenly in love, their lives crashing together abruptly, or are the two going to have a slow burn relationship, where the characters are slowly slipping into one another’s lives? Either way you go with it, the author must think of how this affects not just the characters in the relationship, but any that are around the two. Do their friends cringe away from spending time with the couple? Does the parents or guardians approve or disapprove? Is the relationship a seamless transition in life that just fits with no drama? Once you know how the relationship affects everyone else in the piece, you can move on to the last point of interest.

Relationships have flaws. No one is perfect. Now that I’ve gotten that mind blowing revelation out of the way, I will continue. Every relationship is different, every flaw has its causes and those causes are different from relationship to relationship, even if the flaw is the same as another relationship from the same set of characters. Flaws may be resolved, and for a while there may be peace in a relationship, but some other struggle is bound to crop up eventually. That doesn’t mean that the relationship isn’t meant to continue, although the characters may struggle with that thought—that’s okay. Just make sure to think about the flaws.

Overall the romance needs to be an interesting, complex situation with its own struggles and resolutions—if it is the plot, that’s great! The more complex it is, the better the read will be! If it’s the subplot, make sure you consider the ways it’s affected and the way it also affects the main plot. Romance is a wonderful, enticing theme in many avenues of creativity. Do it justice!

Experiencing New Things Together

Last night my boyfriend and I had a date night. Granted, it started in the early afternoon with errands that bled into trying a restaurant neither of us had been to before, but we’re still going to call it “date night”. As I said, we started off going to a different restaurant—which was a theme for the day, trying new things—we went to Red Robin. Now, since I grew up in Vermont I’d only heard of these and what I’d heard was terribly wrong. I’d heard that they were like 7-Elevens, only they served burgers. So I had pictured them like a convenience store, but with a sort of deli off to the side where they made delicious American goodness. Red Robin was not that. It was a surprisingly nice restaurant with a bar inside, outdoor seating and a nice atmosphere. We ordered our drinks, waited for our burgers and talked. When the burgers arrived they were devoured—tasty and just enough to be satisfying. Of course, it was a little bit more expensive than our usual outings, but it wasn’t horrendously overpriced either.

Both of us

Both of us

After that we ended up hanging out at home until it was time for the other event of the night: an indoor trampoline park. So neither of us had ever been to one (as you can see, we were poor, deprived children) and it was an interesting experience. We had purchased the tickets online, printed out our waivers and signed them. Once we arrived there they double checked the system, sold us some socks to use (one could either jump in their socks or barefoot) and a locker to use for the two hours we were scheduled for.

Torin

Torin

Once we’d changed into the socks and stuffed our belongings into the locker, we headed in. For those of you who haven’t been to an indoor trampoline park: I highly recommend it. In this particular venue there were dodgeball courts, basketball jumps, ninja warrior pits, foam pits and then the open trampolines. There were rules to follow for safety reasons, and whistle blowers if you weren’t following the rules, but it was clean and safe. There was a surprising amount of people there, both people who were new to the place and people who obviously spent a lot of time there. The games of dodgeball were interesting and fun to watch. I can sure say one thing, though, it was tiring. We ended up not even staying the full two hours. Instead we left half an hour early. I’ll tell you what, if I want to go back, I want to get into better shape first!

 

The ball of time stamps in the Flight Lobby.

The ball of time stamps in the Flight Lobby.

So what’s so relaxing about this? It was a date night—we got to spend some quality time with the person we loved and got to experience new things together. Overall, I would say the night was a success; I slept really well last night after all that exercise too!