Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Question from a Writer

We've got some great questions here so I'm going to answer each as we go... Hopefully this will get what you are looking for:

I get what a contemporary romance is.

I understand the genres as a whole, I really do.

But what I'm having a problem with is the sub-genres.

If you have a married couple who has an event in their life change how they look at each other and they work back towards a newfound love, is this a romance? Or mainstream?
I would have to say that it still depends on the over-all trend in the story. If the romance is the central focus and that is what we are building toward, then I would likely say it is a romance. If it is a married couple and we see things potentially falling apart, and we want to watch them "re-discover" each other, then it seems like it would be more of a romance. If, however, the focus is on how couples deal with issues that might break them up, then I would likely say it is a mainstream. Now this is not a fixed rule, but in general that is the approach I would take. You have heard me say this before on the blog, but it is what you say the whole book is about that shapes the direction you take it.

If there's baggage (the word I get from your blog) would this make it a romantic suspense or a suspense/thriller?
Baggage has nothing to do with romantic suspense or suspense/thriller. When I talk about baggage, I am referring to the characters that have so many other issues going on in their life that it starts to sound like a soap opera. Characters don't have to be abused, alchoholic and orphaned with PTSD just to be interesting. If it is a romantic suspense, then we're talking about things such as criminal activity or other situations where one or both characters are fighting for their lives or something like that. In these stories, the romance still needs to be in the forefront, but the suspense element is the plot line that keeps it all moving.

What if the issues the chaos creates have a religious bend, is it then inspirational?
Inspirational romances have a specific twist to them. These are stories that are religious based, generally non-demoniantional that revolve around watching someone coming to grips with their faith. In many of these cases, we watch a conversion taking place.

Sometimes, it feels like the stories don't have a niche to fall into, so a new one is created, i.e. chick-lit.
Chick-lit really wasn't created because there wasn't a niche for it. This was really a genre with a specific twist to it. Generally hip city women taking on the world with or without romance. Again, SEX IN THE CITY.

I guess my question is, when I think I know my genre something changes, how do I nail it down without hurting my chances?
You need to really pin this down in the beginning. This is why a person really needs to plot his or her stories. You have to decide on the genre you want and then work with the characteristics that are normally found in that genre. I often remind people that understanding genre writing is the same as understanding literature, music architecture and other things that have specific categories. Antebellum architecture, Baroque Music, Minimalist art, Romantic Literature - all of these have specific characteristics. The same goes for the sub-genres of romance, or for that matter, any type of writing.


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