Genre Jumping … Is It A Good Idea Or Not?
Why would a perfectly-set-in-her-ways writer choose to change genres? As writers we hone our craft, develop expertise, and lean heavily on our network of friends and critique partners for constructive criticism. Why then, when you’ve found that niche, that perfect sweet-spot of knowledge, would you dare to change from writing one time period, one genre, and venture out into no-man’s land?
Some do it for the money, some for the challenge. Or, if you’re like me, you do it for a bit of both. Sexy contemporaries are hot right now, whether full-length or short. Yet, if you’ve spent the past five or six years writing mid-1800s historical romance, the idea of changing is a scary one.
My most recent historical release, A Saved Woman, is a western historical and part of the Lawmen and Outlaw’s series from The Wild Rose Press. As well, I’m in the middle of a six-book series set in the 1860s. So far, the series has received numerous 5-star reviews, won a cover award for the second book, and seen reasonable sales, especially in today’s glutted market. Yet, when I chose to start a new book, I chose an entirely different timeframe. Well, two actually. You might say I eased my way into the here and now by making a pit stop in the 1950s first.
Vintage historical (post WW II through 1970) is also a hot genre at the moment. To take advantage of a more recent time period, I decided to indulge in my love for 50s-60s rock and roll, and my fondness for vintage romance (think early Harlequin). This detour got me out of the long dresses, bonnets, buggies and horses and into poodle skirts, bobby socks and music. The beauty of it all was, I could actually “remember” the history itself and didn’t need a pile of reference materials to help with the realism. And, even better, it put me into a ten-book series of novellas. The fourth book in the series, April Love, is available now and the fifth book, Dream Lover, will be out this fall.
Now, here I am, easing my way into the 21st century, reading a huge pile of contemporary romances to learn the flavor and, finally, embarking on my journey. What I found most frightening was the language. No more innuendo, no more hiding behind antiquated words. In the new world, swearing is permitted and anatomically correct body parts are encouraged. I think this is where my age and my background in historical romance met the biggest stumbling block to creativity. Personally, I don’t find the “c” words romantic. I’m not offended by them, I just don’t like the “sound” of them.
Fortunately, there are numerous contemporary lines to choose from. So, depending on how you feel about writing sex scenes, using modern language or not, there is surely somewhere a time-traveling writer will fit in. For those contemplating a time change, the first rule of thumb should be to find your level of comfort, then to read books from the line that best suits what you want to write. Secondly, don’t force yourself to write something that bothers you. If you’re uncomfortable, you’re not going to do your best work.
My first venture into the contemporary market, Pushing the Limits (Entangled Flirt), has been a huge success and garnered a number of great reviews. I kept the parts I was comfortable with … like the steamy love scenes … and then wrote the level of language I find most romantic.
So, is genre-jumping worth it? Is it a good idea to leave one fan base in search of another? Is it possible to bring your fan base with you kicking and screaming into a new century? That’s something only you, the writer, can decide. Are you up to the challenge of writing/researching the new era? Are you comfortable with what you intend to write? Whether you’re looking for a more lucrative market, a new fan base, or just need the challenge of changing genres, research of some sort will be required. Just remember, write what you enjoy, what you’re comfortable with, and your best work will certainly shine through.
Author Bio and Media:
Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.