Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A little more about my writing...

Rachel asked what I write* which is an excellent question, especially since this is a blog at least partially about my writing (it's supposed to all be about writing but I like to rant at times).

I just wish I had a quick and easy answer. Soon I'll write a few more detailed posts about my process to date because I think that every writer has a backstory that really influences where he or she is now.

But, that backstory aside, I've been finding it difficult to classify my current WIP. My first completed (and submitted many times) manuscript was very clearly a romance. More specifically it was a very dark Western historical (what was I thinking!?). No way was I branding myself with that. Then I realized that I liked to read contemporary light hearted stories and decided to write that (plus I really stunk at the historical aspect - the details of it all such as at what point in time "hang on a second" became a phrase because when were we conscious of the second as a division of time?) So, I wrote a romantic comedy (at least I hope it was comedic).

Then when writing the synopsis (back cover blurb style) for that manuscript I realized that I'd killed off a guy in the first few pages that should have lived (it being a death made it too dark). Yet the whole story revolved around his death... what to do... what to do... apparently law school was what to do so off I went.

In between writing those two mss, taking a haitus from writing to apply to and attend law school, and now the market changed. Yes, it's partially that there are so many more sub-genres but it's also that there's just more openness. New styles are being allowed, it doesn't seem like there are quite so many rules. With the rise of chick lit there can be a happily ever after that doesn't involve a man or a proposal but involves figuring out who you are (as they say: not Mr. Right but Mr. Right Now).

Having been away during this change I feel it very keenly. Maybe all this was out there before and I just missed it, but I either way it IS there now and it's very freeing. But with that freedom comes a difficulty in classification.

I'm a big believer in knowing where your book will fit into the market because at some point someone is going to care about that. For my first two I knew exactly how to describe them: a sensual 100k Western Historical single title or a sensual 100k single title romantic comedy. And anyone reading those descriptions knows what those books are (if you know the market). I used these descriptions to tee off my query letters, to tell agents and editors EXACTLY what they were looking at.

My current WIP? Not so easy... it's in first person (much more acceptable these days). It has a chick lit voice but I'm not sure it's actually chick lit (at least not the traditional single girl in the big city way). The protag just finished her Junior year at college, she's gone into a world she's not familiar with but has to figure out (and in so doing figure out who she is and how she fits into that world) but I'm not sure it's a coming of age story because, well, she's come of age. It's not really a traditional romance because there are a few love interests and none of them are central to the plot - the main thrust of the story is not her relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

With a protag that age I think I could go Young Adult but I don't know where that division lies... and I think the final word count will be closer to the 80k range than the 100k range.

For once I don't have that easy one line description and it has me slightly worried. I think you can really shoot yourself in the foot for not targeting somewhat but I know - just know - that my book fits SOMEWHERE, it's just hard to figure that out (and it's not that type of thing where it tries to be all things at once like a romantic sci fi cozy horror mystery written in verse - not that something like that wouldn't be entertaining).

While I've found this one to be easier to write in many ways, figuring out the story arcs had been a bit harder. So much that I know about writing and plotting is traditional to the romance world and that's changing. It's not all about having the heroine's external conflict be in opposition to the hero's internal conflict, etc (not that there are rules, that's just a for example).

So when you ask what I'm working on right now that seems to be an easy question with a very complicated answer (as you can see). Right now I'm just going to try to get it written because I'm enjoying the writing. I think I could be happy having this book be just for me (and friends/family) which is a big shift in the way I've always approached writing... but that's a topic for another day :)

*Ok, technically she didn't ask what I wrote but if I wrote chick lit... I took artistic license and ran with it...


Anonymous said...

I totally hear you on the finding where your novel fits, problem. Mine is kind of like that, too. It is sort of literary (if you can really classify that), sort of chic lit, sort of romance, but not really! lol I'm like you, not going to worry about it, just write my story. Oh, forgot, it's sort of suspense, too. There are a lot of elements to it, but isn't that what makes a novel great?

Carrie Ryan said...

I totally agree Bren - it's nice to have so many elements and really, most books have subtleties of more than one sub-genre (I mean, how many books out there don't consider themselves to be romance but have romance as a fairly important plot point?) I'm just worried about finding out a way to pitch it for agents but like I said... gotta write the sucker first :)