Writer Wednesdays

Writer Wednesday – Genre Blending

Rebecca here. Some of you know that I teach creative writing courses at a state university. Recently, I had a student wait around after class to ask a question. “What do you do if you don’t have enough material for a story? What do you add that isn’t just filler?”

It’s a great question, and one that many of us have asked ourselves when we are drafting something new. Do I have enough? Is the story interesting enough, layered enough, complex enough without being complicated or confusing? 

My answer to her was twofold. First, do not set out to write a novel as your first endeavor as a new writer. That is just setting yourself up for frustration and low writerly self-esteem, which, in a worst-case scenario, would lead to quitting altogether. You don’t want that! So start small and work your way up. Write longer and longer short stories, moving from 2k words to 4k words to 6k words. Then try a novelette. Then a novella. THEN a novel. (And then a series, if you are ambitious!)

Second, try blending genres! Stack them! Layer them! Pile them up until you have a delicious trifle of your favorite genres!

The first novella I tried to write, a couple of years ago, sits in a file, unfinished. (I later realized my protagonist is boring, so when I got back to it, I will remedy that!) But my second novella–that one I finished and I love it. I shopped it around and it was picked up by a small press, though it’s in limbo now because the press has closed. But it’s not tragic–I will get my rights back and it will meet readers in a year or two. 

For it, I combined paranormal horror with romance. Then I added a cold-case mystery. Then I added in thriller elements to make it exciting. Then I added “spiciness” to the romance. I ended up with about 32k words, which is a great length for a novella. I did not want to expand it from there into a novel–the fun of novellas is that they are tight and fast-paced. Usually a reader can get through a novella in a day or two, so it’s not a huge time commitment. Especially in the horror community, novellas remain popular for those reasons. 

Do you have a story that lacks a little something? Can’t put your finger on what, though? Try adding in elements of another genre! Pick your favorites. There are no rules! After all, who doesn’t love a trifle? 

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