Monday, February 26, 2018

Classifying Your Cross-Genre Novel's Genre

If a novel is cross-genre, one of the genres must be the strongest and its genre tropes and plot must drive the novel throughout.

A sf romance is first and foremost a romance.  Linnea Sinclair's sf romance novels are driven forward by the romance. Catherine Asaro's novels are science fiction novels with a romantic element. The science fiction plot and worldbuilding drive the novel forward, not the romance.

A werewolf novel that is driven forward by the worldbuilding and various werewolf political/pack struggles is urban fantasy.  A werewolf novel where boy wolf meets girl vampire, and they fall in love during various werewolf political/pack struggles is a paranormal romance.

The important thing to pull out of this is that you must understand what the central genre of your novel is so your novel doesn't fail by genre standards which are really reader expectation standards.  

When you are writing your book, staying within genre or subgenre expectations makes the book much easier to market to the correct readers.  

Monday, February 19, 2018

Cross-genre Worldbuilding

Cross-genre books mix elements of two genre. The paranormal romance is really a romance with fantasy or horror worldbuilding.  The sf romance is science fiction worldbuilding in a romance, etc., etc.

I'm a firm believer that you have to understand, read, and respect the genres you are mixing, or you shouldn't write it.

In recent paranormals romances I've read, the author didn't have a clue about fantasy or that you shouldn’t steal a prominent writer’s worldbuilding because it is blatantly obvious and annoying.  One had a magic system that was a generic mishmash mixed with a complete HIGHLANDER TV show rip-off with swords, decapitations, and magic being transferred.

Another took the Harry Potter universe with its magic system and world, then tossed in her characters.

I've read futuristics that were really Klingons in love with the alien and STAR TREK names changed, or the science was so bad a third grader could have spotted the errors.

The danger of not understanding one of the genres is writers lose parts of their audience. Cross-genre is not only supposed to mix the two genre, they are supposed to mix the two audiences. Insult half that audience by not knowing your stuff, and there goes sales.

By ignoring the basics of the other genre, these writers are destroying “the dream" of the books, and that bothers me a great deal as a writer and a reader.

NEXT WEEK:  Which genre in a cross-genre novel defines the plot and book type.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The One Conversation Conflict

A common flaw in a story is the one-conversation conflict.  That's a problem that can be solved with one honest conversation between the characters.

Some novels, particularly romances, are driven by this conflict through the whole story because the two main characters simply won't ask questions or tell each other the truth.  

This kind of conflict is based on misunderstanding, not on important emotional issues.  It reflects badly on characters by making them appear immature, and, for most readers,  the promised happily ever after appears unlikely with two such shallow characters.

It also reflects badly on the writer who hasn't bothered to work on the plot and conflict.  

A one conversation conflict can work well in a scene, or as a means to hold back a valuable clue in a mystery for a short period, but it should only be used judiciously and not as a major part of the conflict structure of the novel.  

Examples of a bad one conversation conflict: 

"Oh, she's your younger sister, and that's why you were hugging her."

"So you were taking dance lessons for our wedding, not dating someone else."

"You're a vampire, and you were out getting a snack?  That's a relief.  I thought you weren't home at night because you were sleeping with someone else!"

Monday, February 5, 2018

Changing Religious and Mythic Elements

QUESTION:  How much can I change about a myth or mythic creature or monster?  I’m using Navaho stories to create my creatures.

That’s a tricky question for an even trickier situation.  If you are particularly referring to a legend or myth, you will annoy some readers if you stray too far.  However, if you take that myth or legend and change it enough so that it's harder to tell what your original source is, you're less likely to get in trouble.

Using Navaho religion as a basis for your story is another kind of problem because the Navaho religion is still practiced so you're risking stomping all over someone's beliefs.  You have to ask yourself how you'd feel if someone did the same thing with your beliefs.

Some famous authors have used their own version of a skinwalker story in their urban fantasy universes, but I've never heard of any backlash from this.  However, Tony Hillerman got in trouble with some Indian groups for his mystery novels, and he was being respectful.  

From my own experience, I don't like reading urban fantasy that plays fast and loose with Christian belief because I feel it insults so many people.  Why insult many of your readers' beliefs?  

I guess it comes down to how much flak you are willing to take by being slightly controversial.