Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Write the story you'd want to read

Last year, for NaNoWriMo, I stepped out of my comfort zone. After years of writing books about relationships, I decided to tackle suspense/mystery. I didn't even sniff 50K words, and I struggled to get interested in the story.

I wanted to try something different. I have enjoyed reading some suspense/thriller novels, and I wanted to see if I could write one. It's fair to say I can't. Or at least I can't right now. Someday maybe I'll try again.

For now, I'm focusing on what I know and enjoy.  If you've paid attention to my reading recaps, you'll easily see my addiction to books by Melanie Shawn, Shannon Stacey, and Kate Angell. Those are the books I buy immediately and devour. Those are the books that keep me up late at night because I need to read one more chapter. And what do they have in common? They're all about relationships, communities, and -- yes -- romance.

Ultimately, what I've learned from writing is that I should always write the story I'd want to read. Because if I'm not enjoying it, why would anyone else? 

I have to confess, I tried another avenue because I am was tired of the looks I get when I tell people I write romance. It's clear they're imagining sex-filled fairy tale-type books. I don't have any problem with those books (I read and enjoy plenty of them), but my books don't fit that mold. Yes, there are romantic relationships in my stories, but there's also a lot about friendship and family. That's why I prefer to say I write about relationships. It feels more accurate. Plus, romance novels get a bad reputation. People like to call them fluffy, trashy, and worthless. And I admit it kind of hurts my feelings.

I've also taken plenty of grief over my lack of experience in the realm of romance. People wonder how I can write about love when I've never felt it.  How can I possibly weave stories about couples when I've never been part of one? This hurts my feelings more. Trust me, I'm well-aware of my lack of dating history.

Well, let me tell you how I do it.  It's the same tool J.K. Rowling used to write about wizards and Stephenie Meyer used to write about vampires. It's the same thing Stephen King has used in his fantastically scary novels. It's called imagination. I don't have to experience something first hand to have an idea about how I think it works or should work. My current WIP (work-in-progress) is about a major league pitcher with a rocky past.  There is a lot of baseball in the story, but I've never played the sport. Does that mean I can't write about it? 

When people ask what kind of books I write, I want to stop being ashamed to say "romance." Even though I don't think it's a completely accurate label, I think it's the closest genre they fit.  I suppose I'll never change the minds of people who view romance novels as garbage, but they also aren't going to change how I write or feel about my writing.

If you're a writer, in what genre do your stories fit?
If you're not a writer, what genre do you think you would write?

Bonus --- In the interest of self-indulgence, if you've read any of my books, which genre label would you use? 

P.S. Current NaNoWriMo word count = 17,078. I'm definitely going to hit that 20K mark tonight. 

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