Tag Archives: genres

Return

Last year, in January and onward, I was working on a piece that would turn into a project I’d pick up in April and try to work on for the Camp Nanowrimo of that month. I was sluggish and it was difficult to maneuver through it; though I had a general idea of what I was doing, that was pretty much all I had.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, when I’m about to close out the front of it after doing something of an overhaul on it.

I find it kind of funny, really. I’d sort of been on autopilot with it after camp, and then I just kind of faded and stopped working on it. In August, I found new momentum with it. Parts of the whole story that had once been difficult to tell and sculpt together were coming together with ease. I knew how the story got started, I had villains, I was making a stronger novel out of it. A proper one.

A year after going into it somewhat blindly, with only some interest to back me up, I finally found out how to run with it.

It’s sort of odd in its own way. Usually when I find myself interested in writing something, I actually manage to turn out a decent story. Now I wonder if I just plainly wasn’t ready to write this one at the time. It’s a new experience, to deal with this, seeing myself flounder at first and now flying through it with renewed fervor.

Partially, it reminds me of the ideas we have when we’re young. Our first ideas, the less developed ones we’re rapt with in the beginning and then they fade off, and we pick them up and then they fade off until eventually we get our fingers around them again and don’t let go, to the point we finally finish and have a product we’re immensely proud of and were excited to finish in the first place.

I have yet to get to that part, the forever-with-me idea from my youth, turning it into something, but I’ll get there eventually. It being a supernatural story in essence, I fear it’s been done to death.

But other than the undead story that off and on held my attention, I seem to always come back to one genre. I think we all do, really, we have that go-to that speaks to us and finds us better than the others, because we enjoy writing in it and we’re confident with our knowledge.

My go-to genres seem to be sci-fi, but not action, and not horror or thriller or crime (though I have a space opera waiting to be worked on some more), no. It’s drama. The nitty gritty of social gossip and class warfare in the name of romance. Maybe not so much class warfare, but I think you get the idea.

And for having all of these incredible actiony ideas and blow-you-away profoundness, I feel like it makes me come off as frivolous or silly. But I’ve always loved love. Writing erotica this November was like breathing. Nothing felt challenging about it part from working out pace and flow and how it ended and when things were figured out, so nothing to do with the genre. Writing romance is just my passive skillset, I think, and I love it.

One guess as to what this story is from last April that I’m bounding through now. Yeah. No surprise, right?

Which is why I mention coming back to that genre. You always have something you return to, something that feels comfortable, something you know you can push through with ease. And you’re so good at it because it interests you so much, it gets you thinking, it pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

And no matter what it is that brings you back, over and over, don’t ever feel bad about it. Embrace it.

The Novice Wordsmith

PS- One last little mention. Speaking of Camp NaNoWriMo, it is coming up this April and in June of this year as well. It is unlike NaNoWriMo because you can set your own goal, even if it is just revisions. Give it a look-see over at campnanowrimo.org.

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Intuition

One of the biggest problems I tended to have in the beginning, and still have to check myself on these days, is how much insight a character has to guess on something. What do I want them to get, and how easy is it for them to understand or see the connection? What does it say about them?

Characters can be in tune with the world around them or tuned out completely. They can tap into feelings of, “That doesn’t seem right,” or be blind to them.

Hardest to get this right is when you’re writing with others (see: roleplaying). What’s called “metagaming” is basically giving your character the key to the problem and making them solve it. I heard a lot of flack given to friends and from them about this, people just get annoyed and bitter about it. The best bet is to pick up on smaller cues and communicate with the others involved at what should be seen and connected to and what can’t.

Having a conflict solved so easily takes away from the story, quite literally, and the best thing to do is drag it out. Conflicts and issues that arise are the adventure and the hills of your story. This is what takes readers up and down, what reveals the true dimensions of your character and what kind of trouble they can get themselves into and out of.

It sets the pace for the novel, or short story, or movie, or whatever it is you may be writing for. Equating it to a non-fiction piece, it’s like getting to the point without really getting into any details and calling it good.

But the intuition of a character determines a lot, their interactions with others, how they handle a situation, what they do under pressure. It’s something they rely on heavily in mysteries, and in danger it can make or break things. For romance, it can be what pulls the two together, or keeps them apart, or pushes the ex away a little further.

Thinking about it, how intuitive a character is really can set the pace for a lot, but there are plenty of other elements that lead to the story, obviously.

It can also lend to the feel of the novel. Are their “gut feelings” based around how they solve problems or understand things, or are they very much a scientific, logical person who doesn’t rely on that? Do they have a religion based on what they feel and see in the metaphysical, or do they push religion away, or are they a little bit of both?

Intuition counts for a lot more when you really think about it, which ties into thinking power and the ability and skill to deduce one thing from the next. It’s taking in minute details and large ones at the same level and being able to differentiate.

Above all, quite literally, it shows your character the way.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Homework

Yesterday, I found myself talking to a sort-of co-worker (someone who works at the place I volunteer) about “homework” to do because I’m writing a sci-fi novel. This was after gushing about the book I just read, and then we promptly went into other novels that I need to read.

Dune and Starship Troopers are at the top among a slew of books that deliver the sci-fi universe in a way that sticks with you. I have yet to read them, but they’re sitting on my kindle, waiting for me. I’m a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to reading, because I dive right into books and sometimes it hinders my daily writing. Still, these two, with Ender’s Game, are something I’m very excited to at least have access to now.

This kind of calls back to a recent post I made, about research and accuracy, but also goes into the huge post I made about reading and writing fueling each other.

In this case, I think reading novels in the genre you’re hoping to publish and keep writing in is a good place to start, to help you learn more about what’s possible and where to set the bar. It shows you what you can do in your universe and what others do in theirs, what’s basic for each sci-fi novel, and what isn’t. How are they dressed, how do they act, are there aliens? What kind of languages do they speak, or is it all human?

Though, I realize that at a certain degree, at least the last few ones, are what shapes the conflicts and plot of the novel, depending on what the focus is.

For writing sci-fi, I do feel like my resume of what I’ve read and watched is a little small. I haven’t seen the original Star Wars flicks since I was six, I never really watched Star Trek (not even the newer movies), Doctor Who is something I only recently got into because of my sister, and I haven’t seen all of it.

Yeah… “Oops” comes to mind, but I have seen and read enough at least to have an idea of where to go, and plenty can argue that you don’t need to devour book and movie and television show of the genre you’re writing in just to have an idea of how to go about it. In some cases, the vagueness can spawn a whole new level of ingenuity in the universe that you’re writing, and creativity in ways that haven’t been seen before.

Then there are others who dive into the genre because they’ve been in it for so long. IE, fantasy, after playing DnD for years. It’s just second nature, common to them and something that isn’t hard to tap into. It’s like it becomes your default, your go-to.

Fantasy had been my standard for so long that I was surprised that my new favorite place to write had no magic in it. But why would you need magic when you can just tell the ship to get you what you need?

Having shows and books and movies to get into, helps us achieve the kind of mindset that puts us directly in the place we want to be for writing. If it’s a new genre for you, find something to watch or read, but don’t just look at one, look at as many as you can, and sort of spread your cards out to see what they have in common with each other. Make it the home for your headspace, at least until you want to or can move on to a different project.

Nothing says you have to, of course. There’s plenty of other ways to find examples without giving hours of your days away to a show or a book. Then again, you don’t have to divulge into the whole thing, either. Just enough to get an idea, however you’re comfortable.

Ultimately, isn’t that the point? Being comfortable with where you’re writing can take you anywhere, whether it be a publishing house or the ends of the galaxy.

-The Novice Wordsmith