Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Genre For Which I Pine ...

This month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question is:

"What genre or category of writing do you wish you could tackle, and why haven't you?"

Lydia's answer is here, and Laura's is here. Deb will give her answer next week. For me, this is a pretty easy one. I haven't written anything contemporary. I think that's what people might expect a psychologist to write. Either that or psychological thriller-type things. I don't write anything close to that. All of my projects involve some sort of fantasy or supernatural element, which is sort of funny to me because I'm kind of a science person, in case you hadn't noticed. But also, I enjoy world-building, making rules amd mythologies, and letting my imagination unfurl on the page.

Nevertheless, I admit to pining to write exactly the kind of contemporary you might expect from me. I've even outlined most of the plot for one, to tell you the truth. I've done quite a bit of research. I want to write it. I love the characters already.

A few things are stopping me.

First ... my agent has informed me that contemporaries from not-yet-established authors are not selling well right now. No, I'm not saying no one can sell a contemporary or anything like that, I'm just saying I've been told they're harder to sell right now. I, personally, love contemporaries and they comprise a large chunk of my reading list. More, in fact, than urban fantasy or paranormal ... which is what I tend to write. That's because contemporaries are the books that delve deeply into issues of mental illness and health, and that's what I tend to read lately.

Second ... because I've got a lot of other stuff to write. Those of you who read this blog regularly know I recently started a new WIP, which is paranormal horror-ish. I got about 100 pages in, but now I've put it on hold (temporarily) because I needed to write something else. That's just how things go sometimes, and I know that project will be waiting for me when I return. But between my various WIPs and potential WIPs, it takes a lot to front burner something these days, and the contemp isn't making it.

Third ... you know what? You guys are so sweet to me, and several of you have commented how you think my characters must be so well-developed and their relationships so intricate and emotionally satisfying. I certainly hope they are! I work really hard on it. But with contemporaries, that's got to be pitch perfect (not that it doesn't have to be in other genres)--it's real life in a real place, not a haunted Irish castle or the afterlife or a futuristic canal city. I've read NUMEROUS excellent contemps this year, all of which accomplish exactly that kind of emotional intricacy. I think I'm a little intimidated. I honestly don't know how much of that nagging fear is present in my decision not to write the contemporary right now, but I'll go ahead and admit to it.

Now--your turn! Is there a genre you're considering but haven't quite committed to yet? Why not?

22 comments:

  1. I'm not really considering it (spec fic remains my first and only love), but I did have an idea for a contemporary once that I kinda loved.

    What keeps me from writing it is everything you said in Third, plus the fact that I've never read any contemporaries. At least I've read very, very few, and none while thinking, "How did they write this? What are they doing differently from my beloved genre fiction?"

    Though I'm pretty sure if I wrote it, I'd slip in a mind-reader or a stun gun or a biologically-engineered monstrosity somewhere. Maybe that's another reason I haven't tried...

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  2. I guess if I could write YA while it's hot right now, but eh, not really. I love writing my humorous women's fiction.

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  3. Oh great post. I can't wait to read your published work someday...they'll be great. For me, I would love to tackle something huge and genre bending. I recently finished The Map of Time and was so blown away...I wish I could accomplish something along those lines but for a YA audience.

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  4. Great question! I think a scary, psychological thriller would be on my "wanna" list. Why haven't I done one? I guess because I haven't yet come up with a plot that satisfies me as worth attempting.

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  5. I think I'd like to tackle a contemporary mystery at some point. So far I've written one alternate history, one urban fantasy, on contemporary romance and one romantic comedy so I genre hop a lot. But a mystery/suspence would be a totally different thing for me.

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  6. Contemporary really intimidates me for the same reasons. I'd be so afraid my characters wouldn't be three dimensional enough.

    Great post!

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  7. Sci-fi. I love to read it, but not sure I could write it. :) I wouldn't be able to write contemporary for the same reason, Lydia. :)

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  8. An epic fantasy, like Lord of the Rings. Swoon. LOVE them. But the world building alone takes SO LONG. And time is one of my constraints, too. I still think you would ROCK the emotional facets of a contemporary. If anyone could be pitch perfect nailing that, you could. :) Someday I'll bet you give it a shot. But it's very savvy to listen to your agent for now and write what's selling, especially if you have a story with those elements that is speaking to you anyway.

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  9. I'm afraid my books always have a magical or supernatural element to them. I mean, I wanted to be magic when I was a kid.

    I don't think I want to write (or could write!) anything else.

    Good luck with all the writing you're doing, Sarah. Your brain sounds very busy.

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  10. I admire people who write contemporary. I don't read it, but I admire the work it takes to *stay* contemporary - my brain is stuck in the 1880s. ;-)

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  11. My first writing love was mystery/suspense, and that still tops my chart. But about ten (!) years ago, I started being pulled by dreams into writing a historical set in the Ohio River Valley in the 1780s. The dreams were very specific. I got almost half way through the book and had to stop--it was breaking my heart. But now I'm back to it. This one just won't go away. (p.s. an agent I spoke with at the PNWA Conference said it's not a problem to write more than one genre IF the books stand alone, or you're not already established in something like category romance.)

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  12. It sounds to me *puts on psych cap* that you SHOULD be writing contemporary. A. You obviously enjoy it and B. You need to stretch those writing muscles. Remember my motto: Write what scares you!

    For me it's sci-fi. I love it, but I don't know if I'm familiar ENOUGH with the conventions of the genre to really give it a go. I'm toying with it though. I have an idea...

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  13. Know what Jay Asher wrote yesterday? Wait let me get his exact words:

    "When the idea for that book came to me, it felt like The Novel-Idea Stork accidentally gave me someone else’s baby. But the concept intrigued me, and although I was nervous about not being able to handle the story, I decided to raise the baby myself."

    That was him writing about Thirteen Reasons Why.

    His Point: Get out of your comfort zone. You never know where your imagination will take you.

    Ugh! Blogger problems again! It's Carolyn.

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  14. That's easy. I'd love to write a great mystery, like Deborah Crombie. :) Maybe one of these days.

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  15. I have an idea for a contemporary romance, but right now I'm too focused on paranormal/urban fantasy.

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  16. I've always wanted to write humour, like, anything funny at all. Dark, I can do. Seething frustration, anger and resentment, I can do. Funny? Not so much. It's a quality I always very much admire in other writer's work.

    ...and I'm not talking about that bit character that makes sarcastic comments... I mean genuinely funny.

    One day...

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  17. Funny Sci-Fi like "Hitchhiker's Guide." Or any fantasy, really. I LOVE Neil Gaiman. I feel like my imagination isn't quite up to it. Yes, I see what you mean about contemporary needing to have pitch-perfect relationships, but fantasy is all about world-building, and I find THAT intimidating.

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  18. Great answer! I totally agree with you on the challenges of writing contemporary. ;)

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  19. I wish I had time to say more, but mine is EPIC/HIGH FANTASY. It will always be my first love, but I don't write it because I'm afraid I won't live up to my expectations. Or that it will take 37 years to finish one series.

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  20. I don't think I'd ever really want to write anything other than fantasy. Nothing else has the sense of wonder and exploring the unknown that fantasy has. I feel that me writing something other than fantasy would be putting restrictions on my imagination, and my imagination doesn't tolerate that.

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  21. Steampunk is something that I'd like to try sometime in the future. LOL I've tried most genres. I like writing them all.

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  22. It seems all I'm writing right now is contemporary. My first novel was high fantasy and I'd really like to do something set in this world, but with fantasy elements. I just haven't had a great idea hit me yet.

    I know it would take a lot of research, but I'd love a great historical idea too.

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