Category Archives: Writing a novel

Genre Bending Novels ~ What, Where and How ~ Answers for Writers and Readers

Have you even wanted to write or read a book which doesn’t quite fit into the norm of genre?

For the writer

Here’s some useful advice for the writer on current trends, how to go about writing such a novel and how to pitch it or market it once it’s completed.

For the Reader

Following all of this useful advice are places to look out for the ‘best’ genre bending novels available on the market at the moment. Why don’t you check them out?

Moving on from my last few posts on Themes in novel writing I was planning to write a post devoted to Cross Genre and so I carried out some research, finding some wonderful articles on the subject and so I thought I’d share some of them here instead.

Why reinvent to wheel?

Cross Genre Novels Explained

writing-cross-genre-novels-trends-marketing-insights

An excellent blog which gives:

  • an overall picture of what ‘cross genre’ writing is
  • the current trends eg science/fantasy and magical/realism

How to Write & Sell a Cross-Genre Novel

Michelle Richmond, author of Year of Fog

as well as explaining how to write and pitch a Cross Genre novel she discusses the need to:

  • Recognize your primary genre—and use it as your compass
  •  Draw on your strengths as a writer, regardless of genre

cross genre writing

is a blog which tells you 3 Rules for Writing Cross-Genre Suspense

Lists of Cross Genre Novels

A good place to start for an up to date list of cross genre novels is

Goodreads

Other sites are:

Mysteryreaders.org

which lists cross genre mysteries collected in different subcategories

Postmodern Mysteries

Is an eclectic mix of ‘off the wall’ alternative mysteries.

Genre Bending Novels

And finally above is a list of 50 top genre bending novels brought out in April 2020!

Where does that put my latest MISSING, Past and Present?

 Mystery  is a genre of literature whose stories focus on a puzzling crime, situation, or circumstance that needs to be solved. … Many mystery stories involve what is called a “whodunit” scenario, meaning the mystery revolves around the uncovering a culprit or criminal.

Women’s fiction is an umbrella term for women centered books that focus on women’s life experience that are marketed to female readers, and includes many mainstream novels or women’s rights Books. It is distinct from Women’s writing, which refers to literature written by women.

…but it’s not a typical mystery. There are no dead bodies and there maybe no crime committed, just missing people

… but it’s not marketed for women. Many of my readers have been men too.

You see, the thing about Genre bending is that you need to have an open mind when you read the novel and not begin with any preconceived ideas.

 

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Themes in Novel Writing ~ 6 ~ Themes to Craft an Alternative Mystery Genre Novel

Keeping up the tension in a novel ~

Typical crime mysteries

In a murder mystery themes of death, fear, hatred, evil, crime and a multitude of equally negative themes keep up the tension in a novel.

Of course, with a missing person theme, or in the case of my latest novel missing people, all of the above themes could be relevant, but they could also include kidnapping, capture, ransom, abduction and hijacking, to name but a few. The tension could be enhanced by the place which is the ‘prison’ and the dramatic way they are being held. We’ve all seen the movies.

Here’s another good post on themes in mystery novels which traces recent changes in the genre:

fmwriters.com ~ a murderous act

Thinking outside the box  v Reader Expectations

In a title like ‘MISSING’ all of the above could have been used equally to evoke drama, but that wasn’t how I planned to develop MISSING Past and Present. Gerald, Dot’s husband disappeared. He chose to leave, so what causes the tension?

Themes such as betrayal, abandonment, devastation or mental health issues for example a total break-down leading to destitution, poverty and homelessness. All of these things in fact.

Thinking ‘outside the box’ in a mystery is a risk. As one of the police in the novel said at one point in the investigation, ‘We don’t even know if a crime has been committed.’

This is not necessarily what the reader is expecting, but did it pay off?

Here are a couple of reader’s comments on reviews:

Derik Birk’s ***** review ~  An intriguing and addictive tale

“Most books I read are full of violent action but though there is very little such action in this book, I really liked this story of a woman re-inventing herself after a bewildering set of events that almost destroy her.”

Here’s the full review on Derik’s site: Dodging Arrows

H Bane ***** review ~ Really Great Book

“This is such a well written book that really just draws you in. Dorothy leads us on a journey on how she ended up where she’s at. We also have the story she writes of Millie.”

Jackie McAll ***** review ~  Is it just the roll of the dice? Super book

Diana Jackson has a way of writing that easily draws you into the lives of her characters. Although this book handles large themes of destiny and change, love and forgiveness, they are handled in an easily readable way. I loved the story within the story (deserving of a book of its own!). She saves a surprise for the end ! Highly recommended.

Both reviews are great reviews but, I’m sure you’ll agree, they are not typical of reviews in the mystery genre.

Qualities I wished for my protagonist

In order to keep these readers interested how do I think I ‘drew readers in’ or made it ‘addictive?’

resilience

Resilience and Fortitude

I believe it was the themes of fortitude and resilience, qualities of my protagonist Dot, which kept the story moving. I didn’t want Dot to be searching, in fact it was her foster son Jamal (a Syrian refugee) who took on that mantel, when his brother also disappeared and he was arrested. I wanted Dot’s strength of character to pull her through the worst of times, only just!

Another theme I could add here was escapism. Dot managed to escape the effects of her tragic circumstances by:

  • escaping into the past ~ the back story in the form of her memories
  • escaping in the present ~ through mindfulness of the natural world around her
  • escaping from even her own thoughts ~ by creating and writing the story of Millie, an aspirant nun who had lived in the place where she squatted a couple of centuries before.

Only time will tell if my gamble with ‘mystery’ worked.

 

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Themes in Novel Writing ~4 ~ Gender Inequality

This is part of a series on Themes in Writing Novels, some we chose deliberately, some we develop as the novel unfolds and others we slip into quite by chance, but Themes are certainly worth thinking about for writing the back blurb or book description and for marketing purposes, to find your target audience.

From plenglish.com

What facets of Gender equality could a writer focus on?

  • Prestige and occupation (eg A high flyer in business where it is a woman rather than a man who is corrupt)
  • Finance (There are the old cliches, a man finding a rich woman to marry, or a rich man or woman searching for love where money isn’t the main issue ~ so what more unusual theme could there be ~  maybe a man attracted to a woman who lives an alternative lifestyle where the environment is the main factor, avoiding impending disaster ~ a sort of updated ‘The Good Life’)
  • A sports event eg boxing, where a woman excels
  • A woman priest at the centre of a murder inquiry
  • Women spies have been written about but they are quite rare.

Of course these facets are mainly focused on the woman in the novel. Inequalities perceived against men are another issue. A husband beater for example or a male manicurist. Why not?

This post and the next are two opposing facets of Dorothy, my main protagonist in MISSING, Past and Present:

  • Theme 4 Gender Inequality

  • Theme 5 Fortitude and Resilience

You see Dot is a women of her time. (not necessarily of now) She defers to her husband Gerald in all things and uses female guile to get her own way, sometimes making Gerald believe it was his idea in the first place. She knows little about the household finances and is a bit old fashioned. Dot works in a library for most of her married life; a safe occupation, until she decides it is time for a life change and hits on the idea of becoming a foster parent. She knows that Gerald will not think very positively about the idea and so she begins a campaign, leaving leaflets around and adverts in magazines or in local papers on coffee tables.

As a person who has supported myself and been the bread winner on occasions through my life, she is definitely not a reflection of my own life and personality (and it is certainly not my memoir, as one reader guessed quite incorrectly.) I’m sure, however, that I share some of Dot’s traits; I think all of my main women characters have a bit of me in them if you scrutinize them carefully. One example of this is that Dot, like me, is a WASPI. (women against state pension inequality) She is 60 and will not get her pension until over 65. This would not have been too drastic if Dot had been able to continue fostering children, but when her husband disappeared, leaving her destitute, she had the sell the marital home.

In today’s world, readers and writers find it hard to conceive of an era where ladies like Dot were the norm, rather than an exception. Yet, to compensate with what could be considered as a ‘walk over’ Dot has other quailities ~ Resilience and Fortitude, discussed in my next post.

Here are two very different recent posts which might inspire you in this theme, although, in fact, they raise the bar to inspire Gender Equality rather than Inequality!

  1. They Dared to Fly ~ Laura Ingalls in the 1930’s

  2. Elizabeth Evans, Businesswoman and Philanthropist in 18th Century on English Historical Fiction Authors’ Blog

Can you think of any other unusual ways to tackle or highlight Gender Inequality in a novel either for a man protagonist or a woman? It would be great if you could share them with us.

 

 

 

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