READER FRIDAY: Tell Us About the Genre You Write

 

Tell us about the genre you feel most comfortable writing.

1.) Share what you write and what you like most about it. What drew you to the genre?

2.) What are the biggest challenges you have faced in writing this genre?

3.) Where would you push the envelope in writing or reinventing this genre?

 

 

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

27 thoughts on “READER FRIDAY: Tell Us About the Genre You Write

  1. What I Write:
    Westerns, though I presently suffer from genre confusion because some define westerns very narrowly (high action, cowboy or sheriff blasting it out with bad guys/indians/trouble on a trail drive) whereas I view westerns more broadly–stories about people & their life stories in the west.

    What Drew Me To It:
    Watching westerns on TV, wishing I lived back then.

    What I Like Most About It:
    #1 Escapeism. #2 Seeing how people dealt with the trials of life when the world was much less artificial.

    Biggest Challenge:
    Time and access to research when you work full-time at a day job because most places with the info you need are open tiny windows of time during the day that make it extremely difficult to utilize them.

    Push the Envelope/Reinventing:
    I don’t want that. I’ve no interest in the zombie apocalypse meets Matt Dillon. If I deviate at all from traditional westerns, it’s going to be in the sense of broadening what I write to more than a trail drive or a story built just to showcase a shoot out. The appeal of westerns is people who had to live on their own skills and ingenuity and didn’t have everything done for them.

    • Matt Dillon would kick zombie butt.

      I love Westerns. I grew up reading them & got the writing seed from them. When I make a long drive across country, I try to imagine what it took for people to push west into hostile territory to make a life. Truly remarkable.

      How do you research the period language for dialogue or for descriptions from the POV of your characters? I’m fascinated by authors who write historical fiction.

      Thanks, BK.

      • Matt Dillon would kick anybody’s butt. 😎

        RE: period dialogue, language & descriptions: It’s not easy. The two most easily-accessible methods are 1) newspapers of the time and 2) military reports.

        While newspapers are obviously editorialized, you can learn a lot about the tone of the times and certain words and phrases. Military reports are obviously narrowed to a specific cross section of people, but they still can provide info about word choices and how geographic locations are referred to.

        I’m certain diaries would be an excellent source, but they are one of the most difficult to get your hands on unless it happens to be digitized by a historical society or was popular enough to make available as a book.

  2. My three published books are creative non-fiction. Is that a genre?

    Basically, you get to lie about a real event or character to make it more interesting. Because I write faith-based stories, I chose Biblical characters who are rather obscure. I purposely chose many who other authors have not written about. Like the thief on the cross. Virtually nothing is known about him. I wanted to know why he was a thief, details of his upbringing, his family life. So I asked him. I followed the same process with all thirty-one characters. They were only too eager to share with me, as long as I promised to include them in a chapter. 🙂 It was great fun.

    Now, I’m breaking into fiction with two WIPs. The genre is probably women’s fiction. But I like “edgy” fiction, the kind with danger, secrets, and mystery. That’s what I like to read. So, in my two WIPs, I’ve included some of that edginess.

    The other genre I like to read is cops/courtroom drama. But to write that, I’d have to do a whale of a lot of research in order to not screw up the details. I appreciate JSB’s expertise and knowledge on display in his novels. Can I call that research?

    Thanks for the question/discussion, and for letting me share. On with the show now.

    • Wow, Deb. Very cool. I like your instincts for storytelling & how you choose your characters. The way you choose your storyline is a skill for ANY genre.

      Creative non-fiction is FICTION. Ha! But your way of telling stories about lesser known biblical characters would make a good foundation for a pitch.

      Your description of edgy women’s fiction could cover what you do but if you write crime fiction or women in danger, you may want to consider saying you write mystery/suspense. Women’s fiction is more about women & their relationships, more drama-oriented. Plus mystery/suspense might be an easier pitch to publishing industry professionals. I would recommend researching what is selling & gear your pitch to s genre that’s an easier sell.

      Thanks for sharing your interesting ideas, Deb.

  3. In the last forty years, I’ve written multiple genres and subgenres. Supernatural suspense, science fiction adventure, paranormal romance, reincarnation romance, science fiction romance, category romance, romantic adventure, fantasy, mystery, and romantic suspense. My strongest element has always been adventure and action with character and a bit of romance. I branded my website as “Adventure in the Past, Present, and Future.”

    I’ve done nothing but break envelopes. I’m usually 20-30 years ahead of trends. That’s why I never broke out with traditional publishers. Reasons for some rejections. Supernatural suspense didn’t exist as a subgenre for thirty years after the “Power” trilogy. Classic STAR TREK “didn’t involve humor” by an editor who must not have watched “Trouble with Tribbles” among other episodes. “Vampires aren’t sexy” by a romance editor before vampires sparkled. “Ghosts and reincarnation don’t belong in a romance.” So, yeah, I broke envelopes even when I wasn’t trying to.

    So, the moral of this story is don’t break envelopes, kiddies, if you want to write for the NY conglomerate publishers.

    • I love this, Marilynn. But I love writing cross genre. When I wanted to break out, I wrote YA for Harlequin Teen. Teen books are almost always cross genre because kids will read the stories that trigger their imaginations & not how books are shelved in brick & mortar stores.

      But how I stayed within my brand, I stuck to a foundation of crime fiction – mystery/suspense/thrillers. (My slogan is: Take a front row seat to suspense.) I figured any teen readers I could cultivate would grow up & read my adult books.

      I did find that my promotion & marketing reach was a bigger challenge. Totally different audiences can be challenging & costly because of duplication of outreach. But my reason for crossing over had my readers seeking my YAs & vice versa.

      I love the idea of pushing the envelope & you are highly versatile. It makes you more universal as a writer. I LOVE cross genre books.

    • Classic Star Trek didn’t involve humor? I can only surmise they never actually watched an episode. Humor was threaded throughout!

  4. Hi, Jordan

    I primarily write urban and contemporary fantasy novels, though I’ve written short fiction in a wide-variety of genres. I love putting the fantastic in our “real-world.” There’s a real sense of freedom and the sense that anything can happen, lurking just around the corner out of sight. Urban fantasy in particular has a lot in common with the Noir mystery tradition–I’m also a fan of mysteries, and enjoy the combination of mystery and the fantastic. My latest published novel, Gremlin Night, features two sorcerer-agents, who enforce magical law, trying to solve a mystery involving supernatural creatures and magic.

    The most challenging thing for me is that the fantastic makes it even easier for me to come up with complicated plots, which can be a bear to figure out. I’m an outliner, and thus have to stop frequently mid-draft to make adjustments, fill in plot gaps etc.

    All six of my published novels have a crime element, including the lone space opera novel I’ve written, Spice Crimes. I’m also a thriller fan, and the pacing in my own books reflects that. I can’t seem to get away from it–I may well write a straight mystery or suspense novel one of these days.

    As to what I’d change, it mainly comes down to putting more hope into the urban fantasy genre, which can be very dark. I believe most people are good, deep down inside. The author’s job is to be a trouble maker, but I want to see characters overcome their troubles by becoming better people.

    • I love everything about this, Dale. Your genre ideas sound OUTSTANDING.

      James Scott Bell, a fellow contributor to the Killzone blog & writing craft instructor, created a zombie lawyer genre. The zombie legal thriller. Your creativity reminds me of Jim’s hilarious concept. You’re in good company.

  5. Thanks for the questions, Jordan.

    1. What? Like? Drew me?
    After a decade break from writing How-To nonfiction, I decided to try my hand at fiction about four years ago. After getting the thumbs-up to a writing sample from an old girlfriend who happened to be contract editor for NYC houses, I dove into creating a saga-length story in Historical Fiction (about the early birth of New York City). I loved (love) reading HF, and surveying the landscape, I figured I could do it. And then there’s the research, which I also love, although I have to fight the urge to wallow in that and not get to the actual storytelling.
    I’ve now expanded my HF genre to Historical Fantasy and Time Travel Fiction (re: Neanderthals!), but the historical research underpinnings remain.

    2. Challenges?
    Aside from lingering too long in the rabbit holes of historical research, the biggest challenge in my NYC HF writing was getting a handle on the Native American perspective (my hero is a Lenape Indian). On top of the fact that early NA people had no written language, there was a marked disinterest from the contemporary Indian community in what I was doing. There may have been a “cultural appropriation” aspect to this (I’m white European), but I tried hard to reach out.
    With Neanderthal time travel, it’s much easier: there are no Neanderthals to consult or dispute me! (unless you believe that Neanderthals still live within or among us and never went extinct 😉

    3. Pushing the Envelope?
    With my birth-of-NYC story, I am literally the envelope pusher, being the first author to do it! (notwithstanding Washington Irving’s satire of 1809). Yes, that was a surprise to me, too.
    With my Neanderthal time travel, I’m following a long line of progenitors starting in the 19th century and moving through Rosny-Aine (“Quest for Fire”) and Jean Auel (“Clan of the Cave Bear”). I’m just adding my spin on it.

  6. I write in the mystery genre, broadly conceived. I’ve read mysteries all my life, and when I started writing, about six years ago, it seemed natural to write in that genre, particularly by creating an amateur detective.

    The biggest challenge, I think, has been deciding what kind of mystery to write. My sense is that the traditional “who done it” a la Agatha Christie or Rex Stout has been milked dry. Today’s mystery genre has expanded to include any crime story (cf the Introductions to recent _Best American Mystery Stories_.) So we’ve got thrillers, suspense, police procedural, cozies and cutsies along with straight-forward stores that relate crimes. The “who-done-it” component is still there but not always primary and not always in the form of solving a puzzle. So my challenge is, where do I want to place myself?

    If I’m right about today’s mystery/crime story/novel, where do I push the envelope? Looking at stories I’ve written and my two novel drafts, I think I focus on the impact of crime on the people involved and on the ethical issues involved in confronting crime.

    My novel is a cold-case murder mystery but also a coming-of-age/identity-quest story. My novella is a mystery, but it’s also a “struggle-with-rules-and-commands” story and a romance. Likewise, the two short stories that won honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest Annual Contest (2017 and 2019, in the Genre Short Story category) deal, respectively, with a moral issue facing a law-enforcement officer and the impact of a murder on the main character.

    • Interesting comments & thought provoking, Eric. You reminded me of the TV series THE SINNER. It’s a different take on the mystery/suspense whodunit trope. It’s the WHYDUNIT. Season 1 is the best example of how motive can change everything, even if you’re absolutely certain you know who the killer is. Why can change your whole perception of guilt.

      Thanks, Eric.

  7. What I write and why:
    I write cozy mysteries because I love problem-solving. There’s nothing better than taking a bunch of seemingly unrelated events and combining them to get a coherent solution to a mystery.
    Biggest challenge:
    Understanding the craft of novel-writing. After I wrote my first book, I had a story, but not a novel. I began to read craft books and spent a lot of time reverse engineering (aka rewriting) to get the book into shape for publication. Understanding how to lead the reader through an emotional story experience is still a huge challenge for me.
    Pushing the envelope?
    I’m not there yet. Maybe one day …

  8. 1.) Share what you write and what you like most about it. What drew you to the genre?

    I write Christian thrillers/ suspense, with touches of the paranormal. Not sure of the exact category. I tag all three. 😉 I enjoy adding my unusual personal experiences with fictional circumstances and having the power to change what I’d like to be different. I was drawn to this genre by the desire to share my personal experiences and to offer hope to others in difficult circumstances in a intriguing story format rather than an inspirational devotion or memoire.

    2.) What are the biggest challenges you have faced in writing this genre?

    Balancing fiction and real life, making the stories believable without sounding like a memoire.

    3.) Where would you push the envelope in writing or reinventing this genre?

    None that I can think of. I am branching out to fantasy, but that really isn’t too far a jump from my current published works.

  9. 1) I write science fiction. The exciting action-packed SF, sometimes called space opera, though I do throw in some social SF, too. But I include some mystery and thriller, as well. I like action and mystery. I think what drew me to science fiction is that I’m able to use more of my odd imagination, creating cultures and peoples to fit my story.
    2) The biggest challenge I’ve had was being told that, at that time, my work needed to be based on science – and believing it. That the day of fanciful SF was over. I’d fallen in love with the transporter beam / light sabre side of SF, and this news took all the fun out of it, so I actually stopped writing and reading it for years. I didn’t discover that only one sub-genre was based only on hard science until later. I finally had to realize that if I enjoyed the fun side of SF, so would others. That’s when I discovered that space opera was alive and well.
    3) I’ve come to realize that science fiction can be as varied as imagination can be. It’s hard to push the envelope in a speculative genre, but I think making mystery/thriller a large part of my space opera is a bit different. As for ‘reinvention’… I think SF is amorphous enough that things are still being invented all the time, so reinvention isn’t necessary – yet.

    • It takes a HUGE imagination to tackle Sci-fi. The genre has an avid readership with expectations on world building. Not easy but it sounds like you have a true calling for the genre, born from your passion as a reader. Thanks, BJ.

  10. I enjoy writing science fiction. As the members of our critique group like to remind each other, sci-fi is fiction, and our readers expect both riveting stories and technical accuracy. So in addition to characterization, arcs, and a structured plot, we have to get the science right as well.

  11. Until recently I wrote military thrillers. Guns, bombs, fists, and tons of adrenaline and testosterone.
    Now I am working on historical thrillers: Swords, arrows, fists and tons of adrenaline and testoterone…and more horses.

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