with guest Sherry Kyle
Happy 7th Birthday, Seekerville!
How exciting to share birthday month with you! It’s been awhile since I’ve had the honor to guest post, and I’m thrilled to join you today, release day for my historical romance, Watercolor Dreams.
Wait! I thought you wrote contemporary novels! Aren’t you confusing your readers?
Historical romance is a new genre for me, but I stayed true to my brand, which is key. All my novels, contemporary and historical, are set in California and have a reconnecting theme.
Genre is a specific kind or style of writing.
As a reminder, here are the basics of SEVEN common mainstream genres:
• Action is similar to adventure. The protagonist gets himself in desperate situations (explosions, fight scenes, daring escapes, etc.) and risks his life to get what he wants. Many stories fall under both action and adventure genres, including: military fiction, spy fiction, and Western fiction, among others.
• Fantasy stories are set in another world or reality. Magic or other supernatural phenomena is part of the primary plot element, theme, or setting, and symbolism is used to convey universal truths. Many times a “portal” is used to move between worlds.
• Historical novels take place at least fifty years ago. Characters take part in actual historical events and may interact with real people in the past. Attention is paid to period detail, manners, and social conditions of the times presented in the story.
• Mystery focuses on a crime, usually murder. The main character can be a civilian, but generally is an amateur detective, private eye, or police officer in search of “whodunit.” Real clues are mixed in with false ones. A good mystery is like a puzzle and must be solved by the end of the book. Reader expectation is to be able to solve the mystery along with the main character.
• Romance centers on a relationship between the main female character and her male love interest. The pair usually meets in the first chapter. No other part of the plot can overshadow the romance and there must be seemingly impossible odds that the couple will get together. The book should end with an engagement or wedding, providing the reader with an optimistic and/or happy ending.
• Suspense keeps the reader waiting for something, giving them an adrenaline rush. The protagonist’s job is usually to keep a catastrophe from happening. The goal of the writer is to make the reader a participant in the chase by identifying with the main character and the danger he or she faces.
• Women’s Fiction borrows some elements of romance, but the woman’s life is the central focus. The relationships of the story are front and center. The story is often humorous, but can be deeply emotional. The main character can be single or married, and any age. There’s not always the standard ‘happy ending,’ but there’s a life-affirming resolution even if the story is somewhat tragic.
Are you an author that has considered changing or adding a new genre?
Maybe you started out writing suspense and discovered romance is the genre for you. Or you write action/adventure, but want to switch to fantasy. Or maybe you write contemporary women’s fiction and are interested in historical romance too. (I’m waving my hand here!)
People in the writing industry have strong opinions about authors who write multiple genres, such as:
• One prominent and successful author said, “It’s better to pick one genre and stick to it. Otherwise you need a pen name and two websites, which is difficult to keep up.”
• A male author and marketing professional said, “It’s better to land and stay put than flit here and there. Your readers will thank you.”
• On the other hand, an agent suggested writers try their hand at many genres to discover who they are as writers.
• A well-known author shared how she liked to write in multiple genres, but her audience chose her genre for her despite her desire to branch out.
Of course, whether you write one or more genres, all fiction includes these elements:
1. Characters—people facing hardship. The main character is the protagonist, and the person who opposes him or her is the antagonist. Characters can be flat (minor), or round characters (major). A flat or “two dimensional” character does not undergo substantial change or growth during the story, and plays a supportive role. A round or major character encounters conflict and is changed by it. Character is revealed by dialogue, through description, and how he or she responds to conflict.
2. Setting—the location and time period of a story. Setting can be a real place or from the author’s imagination. Many times the setting becomes a character of the story.
3. GMC—our characters need to want something (goal), have a reason (motivation), and struggle to get it (conflict). A goal should be measurable, urgent, and lead the character to action. Motivation comes from the character’s backstory. Both external and internal conflict tests the hero and keeps readers turning pages.
4. Dialogue—meaningful, natural conversation that moves the story forward. Remember, less is more. Real people use contractions, and leave out words. Use dialect sparingly and never use dialogue as info dump.
5. Plot—sequence of events that move the characters toward their goals. Plot is the foundation of the story in which the characters and setting is built around. There are 5 main elements: exposition (characters and setting established and conflict introduced), rising action (crisis is encountered and story conflict revealed), climax (highest point of interest and turning point of the story), falling action (events and complications begin to resolve), and resolution (outcome of the conflict revealed).
6. Theme—a main idea or universal message that relates to life and can be summed up in a single word (love, death, forgiveness, etc.). Often, novels can have more than one theme. A major theme is an idea that is repeated, while a minor theme is mentioned briefly. Three ways characters reveal theme are through thoughts, dialogue, and action.
7. Audience—the people reading our books and the reason we write. Authors need to create a world so real that reader can’t put the book down.
Before writing in a new genre, consider these ideas to keep your writing fresh:
• Spice up your story by “seasoning” your preferred genre with other genres, for example putting in a dash of suspense to contemporary women’s fiction or adding a touch of mystery to a historical.
• Write a few chapters outside your genre. The idea of writing a new genre may sound more appealing than it actually is.
• For fun, send a poem to a friend or write a short story for your children or grandchildren.
• Get a new hobby. Take a dance class, decorate your home, learn to knit, etc.
• Pamper yourself. Have lunch with a friend, go to a movie, or get a pedicure.
• Take a break. Go for a long walk, have a cup of coffee, write in a journal.
• Pray! Be still and listen. God will guide. And if He’s giving you the go ahead, write that new story!
Each published book, no matter the genre, is a reason to celebrate!
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Sherry Kyle is an award-winning author, and writes books for tween girls, contemporary novels for women, including Delivered with Love, and The Heart Stone (Abingdon Press), and her newest historical romance, Watercolor Dreams (HopeSprings Books, October 2014). Sherry lives in California with her husband and four children, loves to decorate her beach home, and enjoys taking walks by the ocean. www.sherrykyle.com
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCL_DfuKldc
Leave a comment today for a chance to win a copy of Watercolor Dreams. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. US and Canada residents only.
For writers who write in multiple genres, any secrets to success you’d care to share?
He strolled into her painting . . . and into her heart.
It's 1910 and Anna Lewis is praying that God will help her become a premier watercolor artist of the lush beaches of Carmel, California. When a man strides down the beach and stops to face the ocean, Anna sketches him into her painting. Was it a mistake? Anna thinks so when he tells her he doesn't have spare change to purchase her work. Spare change indeed! But while she seeks God's leading for her art career, she'd better keep her day job as nursemaid to two rambunctious boys.
The minute Charles Jordan walks away, he regrets criticizing the woman's painting but as he told the artist, he's just been jilted at the altar.
How will a secret from Charles' past affect his chances of loving again? And how will Anna have the hope she needs when tragedy strikes and she must rely on the one man who crushed her spirit?