Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Finding My Genre When It Doesn't Exist

I grew up reading genre fiction. To be honest, I didn't realize the SF, Fantasy, Mystery (and Ian Fleming!) novels I pilfered from my brothers' bookshelves weren't just regular old fiction. By the time I figured out that some people thought genre fiction (any kind of genre) was something to look down on, well, I was already hooked and couldn't care less. When I decided to write for publication, I knew I'd write some type of genre fiction.

I've said, semi-seriously, several times in the last couple of years that I'm a writer in search of a genre. That's partly because I enjoy reading so many different genres that I've found it difficult to figure out where my voice belongs. I'd start a story, full of hope that this would be the one, only to end in confusion with an unfinished manuscript. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Since I've had so much difficulty trying to shoehorn myself into a genre, I decided that maybe what I need to do is invent my own. I've had a setting rattling around in my head for a few years, but I've been reluctant to try using it because it's...different and I haven't felt confident that I could pull it off. It's sort of a follow-on to Steampunk, only set later in history—around the mid-1920s—and I've sort of jokingly been referring to it as Decopunk. The images from the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow are close to what I see in my head when I visualize this world.

I've been having a blast nailing down the framework of my Decopunk world, figuring out the changes to history and how things work. And, thanks to some timely brainstorming at the last RWA meeting, I'm getting a pretty good handle on the characters and the kernel of the story, including a romance subplot. Best of all, I can't wait to start writing!

What about you? Do you have a favorite genre or do you genre-hop? If you're a writer and like several different genres, have you ever thought about taking the elements you like best from each and creating your own sub-genre?


Paty Jager said...

We all know that I genre hop. If the idea hits I write it. Or if I'm ever so forcefully suggested to write something I give it a whirl. I think part of that stems from I'll read anything but Sci-fi and horror.

I'm glad you're writing the book that interests you the most. Forget fitting in a slot and make your own. I think more and more of that is happening lately.

Go Deb, Go!

Sarah Raplee said...

I think it's great that you're writing a steampunk spin-off, self-invented genre book! Gail Carriger did that with her books - she calls them Gaslight Romances. They're set in an alternate history Victorian society, but there's little in the way of gadgetry involved. If you're interested, Soulless is the title of one.
I've written a romantic suspense with a cozy mystery feel and a light paranormal romantic suspense. My next is a YA steampunk involving time travel. so i guess I'm a genre-hopper. I'll have to think about what I like about each genre.

Genene Valleau said...

Debbie, I also think it's wonderful you're inventing your own genre!

With e-books taking center stage, I think this is a great time to introduce readers to books that didn't fit into the narrow confines of what the NY publishers were printing. And I think readers will appreciate this opportunity.

I don't genre-hop much. I've written a couple of humorous novellas, and my longer books are dramatic with touches of humor, action, and suspense. However, all my stories to date have romance at the heart or as a strong element.

However, the future is wide open. I have ideas for a nonfiction book, as well as books for young adults based on fictional adventures with my wonderful doggie companions. And who knows what else my creative mind will come up with? I love exploring new possibilities--except I'm shying away from the research that comes with writing historical fiction!