genre

Stage Fright and Tongue Tornados

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I am so close with my Genre project now. The bulk of my critique is written, I just need to do the boring stuff like reference and write a conclusion. Oh, and cut it down by a couple of hundred words. And draw one of my book covers.

My aim was to have it done by this weekend. I’m not positive that I’ll make it, but it shouldn’t be too many days afterwards. I won’t be able to do any coursework this weekend at all, what with my friend getting married on Saturday and my parents coming up Sunday to take me home for the hols. And do some cleaning. That reminds me, still need to pack. But before I do that I need to unpack the bits and bobs I shoved out of sight in bags and boxes when my agent was showing a potential tenant round my flat. That could take a while. Maybe I’ll do that Friday morning to take my mind off the Plath presentation. I don’t do public speaking, really I don’t. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies. I can’t believe I once fantasised about being a pop star. Ah well, we were all thirteen once …

I saw Oz: The Great And Powerful yesterday afternoon after my brain had lapsed. The cinema was practically empty, there was only two of us there, me and this older lady who chatted to me on the way out. Vue couldn’t have liked us much, she’d paid with a gift voucher and me by my Nectar points, so they didn’t actually make anything on that particular showing.

Oz-The-Great-and-PowerfulThe film was good. I only really cringed once, and it was one of those scenes where the audience is supposed to cringe, and thankfully it didn’t last too long. It was visually impressive, even if it hadn’t been in 3D, and the plot twisted just enough to keep me interested without confusing me. I’ve seen the original two Oz films and read the first book but I wouldn’t say I’m overly familiar with Baum’s work (nice in-joke there at the beginning though, I noticed), so I spent a while trying to work out which witch was which (yep, that was deliberate). The black-and-white opening was a nice homage to the original Oz film, though I thought it could have been cut a bit, used less build-up to the tornado. The character of Oz struck a nice balance between my wanting to help him and wanting to slap him–not the character I was expecting. I’d give the film four and a half stars, though that could change after I have read the original story for myself.

I have to ask, the WordPress pros out there, I am still a newbie blogger and have yet to understand the difference between a tag and a category. As far as I can tell, they do the same thing? How does having both benefit an author/reader?

(PS: I don’t own the image, merely borrowing it for illustrative purposes.)

Write What You Read?

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I’ve heard and read lots of writing advice, and many people say to write what you know. Also, many people say that to be a (good) writer you have to read a lot. I don’t think I’ve heard this as an actual quote, but it’s been implied, that you write what you read (like, ‘you are what you eat’).

To contest that, I’ve met many writers who struggle to find the time to read. I myself struggle to read even the required reading for my course, so when I finish a novel I’ve been reading for pleasure, it’s a pretty big deal. Contrast that to my childhood when I devoured book after book and got into trouble for reading under the desk at school. For me, the telly is an alternative that requires less effort to enjoy since it’s more passive.

Of course to an extend I think how much you get out of reading depends what you’re trying to write. In terms of format, I write prose but it’s been commented that my dialogue is quite script-like, which could be because I ‘read’ (watch) more scripts than I read prose. Since I want to be a scriptwriter, and I’ve got pretty good feedback for prose in this style, I’m not going to worry too much, though I would like to read a lot more than I do–I have so many book samples on my Kindle awaiting reading.

Genre, I think, is a more interesting one. This is all just my opinion, I am by no means saying any writers should take my word as law, but I think it is possible to write in a genre you don’t really read–although it comes with limitations. I should explain.

For a case study, take one of my novels (a work in progress), Shadow Charge. Unlike my other novel WIP, Crossfire, SC is I think pretty difficult to define as a genre. I think the closest possible descriptive would be supernatural whodunit. But on its own that doesn’t sum it up. I would say that SC is part whodunit, part ghost story, part time travel, part psychological thriller, with a touch of romance, and that description is subject to some altering between now and publication (which is not foreseeable for some years). Out of all those genre labels, I don’t read very many. Take psychological thrillers, for example. I don’t make a habit of reading them because many of them freak me out a bit. The same with ghost stories. While I have not read many whodunits, I have watched countless ones on television so I am familiar with tropes and so forth (though I have read two Agatha Christies and one Conan Doyle to date, so I’m not doing too badly).

What’s my point? Well I won’t know for certain till the novel is at a point where I get a lot of feedback on it, but the way the plot has played out I think it works–if I can iron out the wrinkles. Because the novel is such a blend of genres–when I got the initial idea, I would have called it a fantasy, but it has since become apparent that despite its links to my fantasy novel, the actual story is very different–being fluent in its genre(s) is not so vital, because it’s something new. That’s not to say I won’t continue to persue reading more whodunit etc novels. Though I have yet to come across someone who’s had an idea quite like mine. (If you know of something that crosses all those genres, please do tell me, I’d be interested to read it.) On the other hand, I would not dare to try and write a straight romance or straight psychological thriller before becoming fluent in the genre first–I don’t believe I would have the tools to make it a great, stand-out story that way.

So, some food for thought. Do any writers reading this write ‘blended’ genres? How much experience do you reckon you need for each? Please do comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.