Deadly Ever After

Reading The Genre You Write

Today’s Brew:  Blueberry Mountain Goodness

by Kristen

Victoria Frances

Artwork by Victoria Frances

I read a lot. I’m not one of those 5 books a week kind of girls, but I devour a few a month. I don’t go anywhere without a book.  And I’m open to trying just about anything, although I tend always leans towards paranormal and a lot of my books come from the YA section of Barnes and Noble, simply because it’s the best merchandised section of the store. Presentation does matter, kids.  I really enjoy biographies and I’m trying to catch up on some of the classics.

Lately I’ve made an effort to read more vampire romances, since my books feature romance with vampires.  As a writer, I look at books now differently than when I read before I cracked open my manuscript.  Much more critically. I’m aware of tropes, character development, and conflict.  I miss just reading without my inner editor pointing her finger at things.

I noticed a few themes emerging.  Tiny, spunky, usually virginal heroines that are master flirts and usually unbearable cockteases.  Big burly vampire kings from Scotland or some other super white place who haven’t had sex since Jesus walked the earth. They are all rich, rich, rich. One doesn’t want the other, but they can’t resist each other.  Once our two heroes finally wind up in bed, somehow our heroine winds up with super powers! She singlehandedly takes down whole army that vampire king has battled unsuccessfully for centuries.

Prologue:  Two years later, She-ra can’t believe that Thor is her actually husband. They look out onto the sunset with their two babes, Baby She-ra and Thor Junior and live happily ever after. Awww.

You guys, this so isn’t my book. My vampires aren’t old,they have sex on the regular, my characters aren’t all white, they aren’t royalty, they try to save the day, but….well, I’ll let you find out what happens.  As publication day looms, I find myself getting nervous about things that shouldn’t matter.  Like, is there a secret formula I’m supposed to follow when I write my book to guarantee people like it? I read like three of these books described above in a row. All by different authors. Do people want to read about characters that are more like them than royalty? Will readers be open to something different?  Will they be mad if they pick up my book, expecting something like that and getting my story instead?

Everyone says they’re looking for something different, yet these are all best selling books, and they’re all very similar. I’m not saying they’re bad AT ALL, I just noticed a very clear theme.

Julie made a great point the other day.  She’s noticed agents are looking for something fresh and new, but publishers want a sure thing.  I think this is where self publishing has the biggest advantage. Books that don’t quite fit in the neat little genre boxes get a chance for the public to know and love them.  Then the public can get what they really want, not what someone else has already chosen for them.

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17 thoughts on “Reading The Genre You Write

  1. I know what you mean. While I use a diverse cast in my book, my MC has to be some type of minority (as far as race or sexual orientation is concerned), but I can’t help but wonder if I’m shooting myself in the foot because of it. Some people aren’t interested in a black male MC. Even though most of the remaining cast is white, that won’t be enough for some. And that doesn’t make those readers racist, it’s just not their cup of tea. But, this is what I’m committed to. So, hopefully there will be plenty who are willing to try it. And, for others, this will be the kind of book they’ve been waiting for.

    I’m VERY glad I stumbled upon this post. I think I’ve used the “Tiny, spunky, usually virginal heroines that are master flirts and usually unbearable cockteases” in two of my stories now. I’ve added some other features, like a drug addiction or not being human, but you’ve still summed them up quite well. I’m gonna have to take a second look at this. Thanks.

    • Most of the world isn’t white, and I am sure a lot of people want books that look a little bit more like the world they live in. My MC is mixed race, her cousin is black, my male MC is tall dark and handsome, not necessary porcelain skinned. In my follow up book, my MC’s first love interest is Native American and the male MC is Mexican. I’m considering a bisexual MC for a future book. This is what the modern world looks like. You don’t have to be blonde hair and blue eyed to save the day.

      K

      • You’re talking my language.

        The mixed character is in your upcoming release, Because the Night? I’ll have to check it out.

      • Yes! Callie is Jamaican and Irish, and Keisha is full on Jamaican.

        Thank you!!

      • I don’t go out of my way to include diversity in my books, but diversity happens anyway. So far I have a lesbian MC, an Australian, a rich white doctor, an Asian angel (literal angel), and a Hispanic girl. None of them were chosen to be different race/sex/orientation on purpose. I don’t believe in inserting a “token minority character” just to meet a quota. But I think if you read a lot of books with diverse casts, diversity will find its way into your writing on its own.

      • I didn’t either. This is just who the characters told me they were. There’s a healthy smattering of white people as well. And a lot of Canadians. I don’t know why.

        K

  2. Interesting dilemma! But, you are a reader (even with internal critic) and I suspect that after the second book with similar themes and structure, you found the third book in the same vein a bit boring. I’m assuming that other readers will do the same? Were you secretly hoping that the third book would have a twist, or be a bit different? Other readers will feel the same. I know I certainly do!

    Yes readers have certain expectations. We read all books of our favourite author because we know what to expect with them, they’re our security blanket. We buy and try out other authors because they might look or feel a bit similar – if I’m trying someone new- if it’s well written, I’m going to love it; even if it doesn’t follow the exact formula of a tried and tested favourite. If it’s poorly done, I do tend to scoff and think that they should have stuck to formula A.

    So be brave! I’m sure your novel is brilliantly done. There’s no point putting another formula A on the market, because it’s there already! But if yours looks and feels like a formula A, but is an offbeat A-Point-100 then you might just attract those Formula A readers and convert them to something new and exciting.

    Good luck!
    Fibi x

  3. Hi Fibi,

    I was a little bored by book three, but I had a slow couple of days at work (I spend a lot of time in “hurry up and wait” at work) so I pushed through it. I enjoyed the sex scenes. Not going to lie.

    It all gave me something to think about.

    K

  4. I like your point of view. I can’t imagine writing about a spunky virginal heroine… it would be too much like writing about my teenage daughter. Yuck. I like my Vampires a little more modern and a little more experienced – and a little bit more like the average reader. Nice post Kristen. Now I need to read your book!

  5. saboviec on said:

    I can tell you that I’m exhausted with and, on some level, offended by the paranormal romance I’ve read lately. The male is always inherently stronger than the female because of situational aspects (cultural, physical, etc.). The female is spunky yet alluring, bumbling yet doe-eyed, offended yet also intrigued by the idea of sex.

    C’mon. Not that I want to start on a feminist rant or something, but it makes my shoulder blades itch to think that this is secretly what women want: To be wooed by a man that can dominate them on several levels just so they can prove the power in their femininity.

    Oh. I did go on a feminist rant. 😉 also, I’m avoiding romance.

  6. Heh. I’ve been trying to read more romance lately and I frequently find myself a bit annoyed. By “a bit annoyed” I mean I can go on an hour-long rant, haha. But I’m definitely interested in checking out you ladies’ books – that’s why I hang around, after all.

  7. You guys are making me feel much better about things! These are NYT Bestselling books, so I had to wonder if I was the only one who thought it was ridiculous.

    I will save my girl power rant for another blog post. Stay tuned.

    K

  8. For one vampire book in particular, the only thing I got out of it was the urge to write my own…

    😈

  9. I dunno. I think your way is WAY more interesting. And ultimately, you can’t write about things that bore or annoy you, ‘cuz you’ll never be able to make yourself finish writing a book you hate. So I say be true to yourself! For what it’s worth, anyway 🙂

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