My good friend Eve McFadden (aka PennLady) wrote a great blog entry this week about writing in different genres. Obviously, we both primarily write romance, or she writes in her were-universe, but still, it’s pretty much about the romance.
I’ve mentioned in previous blog entries how most writers will try something new every once in a while. Sure, we enjoy writing what’s successful and what everyone likes to see us writing, but sometimes, we need to write something else. Something completely different, just to see if we can. I’ve done it, with “Body of Water”, and PennLady did it with a few different stories, “Island Encounter” and “In the Red Parlor”, to name a couple. For both of us, while those stories weren’t exactly panned, they also aren’t our highest rated. In her blog entry, PL asked why that was. She wondered if it was because her usual happily-ever-after wasn’t there for some of them. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but I thought it would be fun to discuss it a little further.
For me, to write something outside of the norm involves a lot more genres than PennLady, since she’s already written in the nonhuman, or fantasy categories. I sort of did that with “Body of Water” but that one didn’t fit into any specific category, in my mind. I did write the TAITS series, which was adventure, but also mostly just romance. And of course, even lately, my one-offs are all about being in love. I do, however, keep coming around to different ideas that would fit into categories I’ve never done before. I’m talking, science fiction/fantasy, same-sex relationships, or even taboo.
Some of you just cringed, didn’t you? 🙂 Nothing wrong with that. Personally, I don’t seek out any of those genres. In fact, I don’t even read in the mystery-suspense-adventure genre all that much, and yet, I have written a series in that very genre. So it stands to reason that just because I don’t read a genre personally, doesn’t mean I couldn’t write in it. I think I could apply myself and come up with something that readers of those genres would enjoy.
The problem that presents itself is not that I couldn’t do it, but who would read it? If I post under my familiar moniker of MugsyB, you, my regular readers, might read it, just because it’s something I’ve written. I might even attract new readers because the new thing I’m trying is something that’s the usual for them. Maybe they’d even take a chance on my other offerings, in the romance category. Hell, maybe they’d even become hockey fans. Don’t tell me that hasn’t happened to any of you! 😉 Then again, the fact that I wrote it may not be enough for you to give it a go, if it’s in a genre you’d never consider reading. Also, there’s always the risk of losing some readers who might not react well to seeing me write something they dislike or have no respect for.
One option is to post something in one of these categories under an entirely new profile. I could create a new persona, a woman who goes by ‘daddylikey’ and writes only the incest category. Or ‘touch-my-laser’, a sci-fi geek who only writes in that genre. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through just to post something different. I’d also be missing the opportunity to get uncensored and unbiased opinions from readers who are familiar with my work and style. I think you see my dilemma though.
I know some of you might be thinking you’d be willing to give anything I write a try but would you really? Would you read something that has the potential to make you uncomfortable just because it’s something I’ve written?
I’m reminded of my book club and the month I hosted last year. I chose my own novel, “Agent Alpha” and I chose it for a couple of reasons. One, because I wanted to see if anyone among my circle of friends liked my work. 🙂 Two, we’d never really discussed the ebook craze. So that was an interesting gathering for those reasons, especially since one of the women in the group had recently suffered a concussion and due to the post-concussion symptoms, could no longer read on a computer or digital screen for long stretches. It physically wore her out.
Also, one of the things we talked about were the sex scenes in the book. If any of you have read the book, you know that it’s not overflowing with sex. There’s a fair balance, in my opinion, of action, humour and romance. However, these women in my book club are a rare group who apparently don’t read romance. At all. 🙂 There’s nothing wrong with that, just like there’s nothing wrong with reading romance. I just found it really surprising that they had never given it a shot. Anyway, we discussed the sex in my novel and one of the women said it made her uncomfortable. She didn’t know if it was because she’d never read a scene like that, or if it was because she knew I’d been the one to write it, but she almost couldn’t get through it.
Now, all of you have read my work and while I may have a bit more intimacy or physical scenes in my stories, they’re not over-the-top, kinky or anything like that, by any stretch of the imagination. Somehow though, my completely average sex scene was too much for her.
So it makes me wonder if my regular readers, used to my vanilla romances, would be put off by a same-sex, sci-fi or taboo sex scene or romance. I guess I’m wondering if you’d be disappointed to see me post something you don’t usually read or if you’d be so bothered by it, that you’d give me a purposefully low rating. Or even stop reading me altogether. I like to think I’ve attracted the kinds of readers who wouldn’t do that, but who’s to say? I guess all I can do is try and see what everyone’s honest opinions are.
On that note, I think I’ll leave you for the week. If you haven’t seen it already, there is a new posting on my Literotica page. It’s another song-inspired tale, featuring Maggie and Christian from “Raining on Sunday.” This one is called “You Look Good in My Shirt” and takes place earlier in their relationship than the first one. I hope you’ll check it out if you haven’t and if you have, I hope you enjoyed it.
Take care and happy reading.