Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Finding the Correct Genre For Your Prose
*The original post was done June, 7, 2011, but I felt the need to share it again. Since this post, things have changed. I have found an editor which I love dearly, and the series itself has changed from a three book series to a six book series, The Butterfly Memoirs. Also the ms title has changed from The Healing Heart to A Heart Not Easily Broken. It fits the theme of the story so much better. Please feel free to post your thoughts!*
This week I started edits for chapter three of The Healing Heart. This is going to sound weird, but after learning about the craft of writing, I've done what a lot of writers swear never to do: re-write my first story.
*Audible gasps of horror from hundreds of writes as I type*
"Why on earth would you re-write your first story?????"
Good question. I've read interviews and blogs of various authors - both published and non-published - who say they will never touch their first story again. Many felt their writing sucked, or because the story line wasn't strong enough. Most said it was due to rejection letters from publishers, or because their agent kept wanting to change what the story was about in order to fit their personal tastes. That's something I refuse to do. Don't get me wrong, if an editor or agent had suggestions on what to change to make it a stronger sale, and I felt it would stay true to the story without taking the heart out of it, then yes, I would do it. Since I don't have an agent or an editor, I'm relaying on my amazing critique partners to point me in the right direction. But change it completely? I don't think so. That's a decision I will make on my own.
And I did.
The reason why had nothing to do with fitting inside the neat little box of traditional romance stories. I am confident about the stories theme. It originated as a form of personal therapy because of issues my family dealt with at the time. It was a way to keep my sanity without loosing it. My desire to write it and do it justice inspired me to learn about writing. My determination and enthusiasm for this project has far outweighed my other creative form, floral design. I've studied the art of floral design for several year, it's a talent that I can do with my eyes closed. But now my love of reading and storytelling has completely taken over. I feel so strongly about the story and the characters that what started out as therapy turned into a three book series. All three books were written in a nine month period from start to finish, each a minimum of 350 pages. And those were all typed without an outline. I'll never do that type of writing again.
Once I joined a critique group, I just knew I was well on my way to becoming a published author, whether by traditional means or self publishing.
Boy was I wrong.
The first and biggest thing I learned from my new critique partners when the began reading my story was this: they had no idea what genre I was trying to be in.
'ROMANCE!', I replied.
I mean obviously. I said I wrote romance so I was, right?
I was told my book came across as YA/Romance/Multicultural Romance/Chick Lit/Woman's Fiction. I needed to pick one in order to establish my genre.
My mind was completely blown. My writing spirit crushed. I didn't want to write YA because my story was going to contain adult romance themes. I wanted to write a maturation plot about an eighteen-year-old female who was learning life lessons about love, heartbreak, friendship, surviving tragedy and becoming a stronger woman because of it. But I needed to keep the theme of romance. And if this was YA, I would have to edit the love scenes down or out of the story because they're a key part of this young ladies road to discovering herself. Her emotional attachment to the hero and what devastates her in the key part of the plot. YA was definitely NOT what I wanted.
So, diving deeper into the many, many facets of the romance genre, I discovered Chick lit/Women's fiction. I figured my story would definitely fit in here. But what grown woman would want to read about and eighteen-year old discovering her independence? (Okay, I admit, as a grown woman, I've been caught up in the Twilight Saga, have read all the books twice and own them all and can't wait for the last movie to come out, but that's definitely YA.)
SOOOOOOOOO.... what to do, what to do.
The first thing I did was put that story aside and went to work developing a whole new series. This one specifically for the Romance genre with Multicultural themes and adult h/h. It took a few months to write the story, but I struggled along. I fell in love with the h/h, brought the characters setting closer to home, but I still struggled on finding strong goals and conflict to catch the reader.
But then I did something that changed my writing career. I took a Writing Workshop.
Author Valarie Clark gave a workshop at the local Community Collage back in February. I had seen the advertisement for the class a year ago around the same time. But my budget wouldn't allow it. And I'm glad it didn't. I don't think I would have appreciated the significance of the class as much as I did this go round. One of the biggest things I learned from her was finding your writing platform, the over all theme that made my story stand out from the rest. And lets face it, there's a ton of wonderful, and not so wonderful, romance story's out there. Where could I possibly fit in?
And then it hit me. My first MS. The story that motivated me to begin writing. The Healing Heart.
I spent an evening FB chatting with one of my critique partners, discussing story themes, (remember that night Erin? lol) All of a sudden, I've got it. Woman's Fiction/Romance with Multicultural characters.
Or at least that's what I think it is. LOL.... stay tuned for more updates!