Thursday, May 9, 2013

Writing Outside the Box


This week my guest is Tim Ouellette, author of Fractured. He talks to us about cross-genre writing. Come back tomorrow for an excerpt from his work.

Writing Outside the Box:
 The Benefits of Cross-Genre Writing

            So…you’re a writer. You’ve published that poem, short-story or novel, either through traditional publishing channels or by self-publishing. You’ve begun to garner a following of faithful Twitter devotees and Facebook Fans, folks who have begun clamoring for more.
            You’re in the zone, and you can feel it. You’ve got your mojo working, and it’s time to craft another story just like the last one, right?  You wrote a great horror story, or mystery, or young adult novel, and you’d like to capitalize on that success.
Who wouldn’t?
You step up to your laptop, set your fingers on the keyboard and produce…
Nothing.
Zip. Zero. Zilch.
The well has been tapped, the mojo’s gone, and the only thing you feel capable of capitalizing on is the stock you purchased in those energy drinks that kept you going while editing your previously published work late into the night.
What’s a writer to do?
I’m going to make a suggestion here, and it’s one that might seem a bit outlandish; in fact, it’s something that might appear to fly in the face of standard business marketing principles. It may work for some, but not for all. It entails a leap of faith and requires one to enter a world that, at first blush, might appear a bit frightening to those who have only looked at its landscape from afar.
It’s the world of Cross-Genre Writing.

SCRATCH THAT NICHE?

Folks who run their own business often talk about their ‘niche,’ that segment of the marketplace where they have strategically chosen to run their business. It’s somewhat of a safety-zone in that it helps the business owner to maintain a cadre of faithful customers who will (hopefully) purchase their service or product, perhaps even multiple times. It’s a standard marketing principle and, for the writer, it helps to put into practice a well-known aphorism:  divide and conquer.
Business owners who “divide and conquer” have gone to great lengths in establishing themselves within a focused segment of their market. It allows them to utilize certain resources in a highly focused, extremely efficient and productive manner.
Writers who do the same are those who have perhaps discovered a unique talent for creating genre-specific work. Whether they write crime fiction, horror, young adult, or another of the standard genres, writers who specialize in a certain “type” of fiction are the type of people who recognize the worth of a good, solid formula for success and focus on developing their careers almost exclusively around genre-specific material.
Genre-specific writing, in my opinion, is also the type of authorship that allows the writer to put into practice an extremely efficient marketing plan. Writer’s write, as they must; but writers must also market their work, which translates in some fashion to exposure. The genre-specific author who is marketing-savvy will do well to push not simply his or her work but themselves as the commodity.
In other words, their name becomes their brand, and the genre they’re writing in becomes, in a way, their advertising.

SIMPLIFY…OR DIVERSIFY?

The above heading is not in any way intended to imply that niche writing is somehow inferior to, or a simplified form of, authorship as compared to cross-genre writing; rather, I use the terms “simplify” and “diversify” to simply distinguish between writing within a single genre and writing within multiple-genres.
I thought it would be best to get that clarification out there.
Writers who are used to producing a specific type of work and who choose to begin creating cross-genre material will suddenly find themselves surrounded by an array of creative choices. No longer bound by self-imposed literary restrictions, authors who write across multiple genres allow themselves license to express their ideas in whatever literary form their story decides to take.
This type of writing can be very liberating, not only for the writer but for the story as well. In other words, the writer who specializes in a distinct literary form will undoubtedly gear their raw material toward whatever genre it is they’re working in rather than allowing the story and characters to develop and grow in a truly organic fashion.
Diversification in fiction writing is also a good way for writers to stay on top of their game. Developing plot lines comes easy for some, not so much for others; but for everyone it’s a labor of love and something that must be attended to regardless of the genre one is writing in. Restricting oneself to a specific genre does, in my opinion, limit one's playing field; it sets up creative boundaries where none should exist. If one feels “bound” by commonly-held literary “standards” related to genre, then one might not allow oneself the freedom to create…period.

I DID IT MY WAY
            There really is no right or wrong way to do this. Whether one feels the need to write within certain boundaries related to a specific genre or allows their work the freedom to grow and take shape across multiple genres the writer must be true to oneself, one’s story, and one’s audience. Writing the best story one can, with as clear and distinctive a voice as possible, regardless of one’s commitment to (or lack thereof) genre is really all a writer needs to concern themselves about.