Genre or Wait, What is My Book?

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you will clearly see that I’m no authority on writing (or much else). I’m stumbling along as I go, writing whatever comes to mind about writing.

Today’s topic of confusion: Genre. Ah, that pesky little demon that can be as simple as romance or mystery to as complicated as Dystopian Paranormal Romance (ok, I made that one up, but I’ve seen some lengthy ones on occasion).

When writing my little circus story, I just wrote. I didn’t think about genre. I knew it was Young Adult (which surprised the heck out of me since I hadn’t written YA before) and that was about it. *Side Note: I know YA is a category before anyone hunts me down. If I ever accidentally call it a genre, I’m just being lazy. You know, like Kleenex being every facial tissue ever made? Sorta like that. Now back to the show*

With the first draftedidee draft done, I was excited and relieved. I had finished my first ever novel. I rested and celebrated. Then I hyperventilated as I thought about editing. I’d never edited something like this before. Papers for school would be edited as I wrote, but fiction is a different writing process in every way for me.

So being the good writer that I am, I did what anyone else would have done—-procrastinated by researching agents and query letters. It is here that I realized I had no clue what genre my novel fell into. It’s set in the here and now with a circus run by a man that forces people to perform for it so he can feed off of their energy and the patrons’. A whole lot of mind powers going on, but an otherwise mostly realistic world.

I began researching genre and what genres were out there. My poor little story didn’t seem to quite fit anything that I came upon. I’ve settled for low fantasy at the moment, but I can’t say I love that classification.

Have you ever done a search for genre? Eek, it’s scary and confusing. No wonder I’m still just as lost today as I was the first time I decided to christen my novel! I will list a small few of sites I found to list genres but with subgenres, the possibilities seem endless.

http://www.writing.com/main/list_items/type/genre

http://www.theguardian.com/books/list/booksgenres

http://www.ask.com/wiki/List_of_literary_genres

http://www.ask.com/wiki/Category:Novels_by_genre

So, do your homework and try to categorize as best as you can, but know that most of us are as lost as you if you don’t have an easily genrefied novel. Come as close as you can when you querying (or so I keep reading) and put most of that worry into making your book the best it possibly can be!

Happy writing.

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Shake It off/Talk it out

So I had this whole post ready about my frustrations on editing (those frustrations are really still the same). I feel as if I’m standing still yet moving forward. Baby steps are in mm and it is taking me way longer than I hoped to get this book ready for the real world.

This isn’t that post. As I said, all of those feelings still apply, but as I wrote out that other post and whined on Twitter, something miraculous happened: I had an epiphany. I am still a little scared of said epiphany because this means that yet another character’s POV will be thrown into the equation, but I’m excited to see how things go from the villain’s POV.

So that brings me to my actual point: don’t forget the things that help you get to your destination. For me, this is talking things out. What looks like complaints and whining to some is me trying to wrap my head around what is wrong. Often times, the more I say something, the less it bugs me. It also helps to unburden my brain with one less worry that doesn’t need to be there.

The moral of the story: Do what you need to in order to get things to work out. If you need to take a break from a story, do it. Go read, watch tv, or harass other people until you feel like you can come back with fresh eyes. Editing a pain in your behind? Ask others for help, look at how other authors do it, or again, take a break. If whining helps you figure out your next move, do it. To hell with what other people think.

I still don’t love editing. Many of the problems I’ve been stressed about will still be there after I write these new chapters, but I hope I’ll have a slightly different perspective when I’m done with them. Either way, I’m back on my feet for the time being and headed in a forward direction. Until I’m not, I’ll just keep on trucking. So I guess that means the other moral of the story is: Don’t Quit.

Now, go write something or you know, whine about something.

The Ups and Downs

One night, this is the greatest novel ever. It’s so unique. Everyone will love it. The next, my writing is crap. Maybe I should just shelf this P.O.S.

Ah, the joys of writing and really learning that it is, in fact, hard work. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I never understood how hard it would be. This is my first finished MS. First as in first finished rough draft. The first thing I’ve ever edited and now I know why I avoided. I know, I know, the more I write and edit, the better I will get. It’s still hard. It’s hard looking at the writing and thinking,”Wow, this is really AVERAGE,” when you’re a perfectionist expecting extraordinary.

Then my girls make me laugh or smile and I wonder if maybe it all makes up for it. Those hidden gems that you hope readers will latch onto. Besides, once I get all the plot holes filled, I can nitpick to get exactly the right words. Right?

So even though it’s not perfect (and likely never will be), it’s original and it’s mine. My creepy circus. My spunky 15 year old girls. My dual POV Frankenstein. Mine. And because I had a moment the other night, I think I might put a little excerpt up. It may or may not make it to the finals, but who knows?

Everything about this thing is becoming worse the deeper in I get. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get over the circus when everything is done or will it stick with me, too? I pull Ella’s barrette out of my pocket where it’s been tucked away. This was in her hair just days ago. The last thing to touch her. My last connection with her. The purple flower looks so innocent. I only want to put it back where it belongs.

This Whole Editing Thing

            Help! A new writer looking at the daunting task of editing here.  And I’m scurrred. Who wouldn’t be?  You’ve just spent one whole month writing your baby (what you didn’t do Camp Nano or Nano? Oh, ok)…You’ve just spent X number of hours, days, months, and even years knocking out the first draft and now you stare at the sucker.  It was perfect and great and now you are starting to see some of its flaws.  They are glaring and ugly and in need of copious amounts of TLC, but where to start? 

            The first obvious place is any errors you catch as you read along.  Spelling errors, typos, and anything that sticks out and makes it hard to keep reading.  That isn’t too hard.  What next?  Then I moved on to big plot holes or anything that did not seem right or interesting enough.  Check.  That brings me to now.  What now?

            I have never edited anything before–probably because I was avoiding it.  The possibility that I would have to cut out huge chunks scared me.  Add that with “what if it just plain sucks” running through my head, and now I’m just psyching myself out.  When writing has been your dream since you can remember, not succeeding is the worst thought running through the back of your mind.  If I don’t finish this, no one can tear it apart.  If I work on it forever, I will never have to face the truth.

            Sucking it up and moving forward is the bravest, scariest thing you can do.  And I am.  And I’m nervous.  Scared.  Confused. Determined. Unsure.  So many things going through my mind.  Like, when do you let other people read your story?  Do you rewrite/edit the crap out of it before letting other people give feedback (if I’m lucky enough to get people to read it and give feedback)?  Do you give it a couple of run-throughs and then get advice so you can incorporate said advice in when you are making more edits? 

            So many questions that I am bumbling through.  I’ve asked other writers and continue to stalk them on Twitter to see how everyone else does this and I’ve come to this conclusion: EVERYONE DOES IT DIFFERENTLY!  I know, a shocker that there isn’t some universal easy way to do this whole process. I knew that would be the answer, but it is nice to see other methods that I did not consider before.  I wondered how people got their beta readers and critique partners so I asked.  Many had found their besties from writing contests.  Note to self: check out contests.  One gave a website for finding them: Note to self, stalk that site. 

            Little by little, I have gleaned information and tucked it into my little mental folder of how to move on.  I’ve read a few books on editing, but I want some manual that instructs you step-by-step on how to go through your pretty first draft and hack it to shreds. I want the best possible story I can have, but how do you know what that is?  I am learning that doing is the only way I will ever know and get over my fears.  Wish me luck as I jump back into the story and hopefully come out the other side with an even better one!