Writing Across Genres

Writing is writing, right? All writing must hook the reader and keep that hook, propel a story forward with rising action and create characters which are both memorable and complex. Yet as I’ve learned this week, writing across genres isn’t always automatic. At least it isn’t for me.
Writing Tip for Today: I’ve been trying my hand at a women’s inspirational romance. This category doesn’t come easy for me. So far I’ve learned:

  • Different genres require different goals. For instance, the goal of any romance is, well, the romance. But what about a YA (Young Adult) novel vs. a middle grade novel? In middle grades, the novel focuses on community, and often features a protagonist who wants to fit in. In a YA, the individual is alone or with a select group. Middle grade novels start out wide in focus, YAs almost always end up narrow and exclusive.
  • Different genres require different balances of narrative vs. action. In very literary fiction, poetic narrative might be better tolerated than in a romance or any genre fiction, where action and dialogue must take center stage. Pacing is generally faster. In my first attempt at this romance, I had my hero and heroine in a park together with their combined 3 sets of twins. Nothing wrong with that, but by the end of Chapter 3, they were still in the park. Much faster pacing was required.
  • Different genres have chapters that are of a certain length. Whereas in mainstream fiction the chapters may be long or short, in romance of the sort I’m trying, the chapters tend to run shorter and contain fewer scenes per chapter.

I’ll admit that romances are not my first choice to read, and it shows. I’ve had to adjust my style, the tone and the elements of coming together, flying apart and coming back together that the genre demands. I have much new-found respect for those who have written these novels. Writing across genres is a great way to improve your skills.

Try This! Pick a genre you’d least like to write. Read at least two or three books in the category, and invent a storyline. How easy or hard is it to actually write in the genre and why?

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Writing Across Genres

  1. wow, linda.. thanks again.. you are the teacher that just keeps on giving… i don’t know if i will try to write a war-novel or not.. or even a romance… but it’s most definitely a step in helping me to write better… thanks for putting your experiences out there… yo

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