Writing from the Peak, PPW Blog

Is the Time Ripe for Multi-Genre Fiction?

Is the Time Ripe for Multi-Genre Fiction?

Today we hear from Steve Janss, who’s Dead in a Red Dress can be classified as a dramatic, suspenseful thrilling political spy novel, and more.  Steve shares with us the facts of genres and multi-genres, today and in classical literature.  In addition to working on his second novel, Steve leads the CS Writers group in Colorado Springs.  You can find out more about CS Writers at the end of this post.


What Genre is Your Novel?

“What genre is my novel?  Why, it’s a multi-genre techno-thriller!  No wait…  Let me explain…”

If this resembles a conversation you’ve had, I might not be alone.  Have you ever been told, ” ‘Multi-‘ is not a genre — you have to focus your work into a specific genre, or agents and publishers won’t know what to do with you.”  In an age when most movies and TV shows cross genre lines at will, combining science fiction, suspense/thriller, and action-adventure onto the latest silver and LED screens, I had to ask myself, “Why is the multi-genre approach still not respected in literary fiction?”

Although puritanical gatekeepers will burn you at the stake for crossing genres in fiction, we writers desire to combine elements of multiple genres in our fiction the same as we see being done in other media.  Doing so provides a rich increase to our creative pallets, and if we like it, our readers might like it, too.

Genre, Subgenre, Microgenre, NanoGenre…?

Classic lists of literary genres typically include comedy, drama, horror, fantasy, realism, romance, satire, tragedy, and mythology.  Naturally, as do all good things which have been analyzed to death, these break down into about 21.3 billion genres, subgenres microgenres, etc., so one must be very careful as to whether or not their protagonist’s brown plaid jacket seams were hand-sewn in Surrey using a blanket stitch or in neighboring Berkshire with a wrapped backstitch.  While the truth isn’t quite that bad, I recently discovered my first novel, Dead in a Red Dress, isn’t the murder-mystery I had envisioned after all, but rather, a multi-genre novel with the following taxonomy:

Genre:  Drama

  • Subgenre:  Suspense Fiction
    • Microgenre:  Crime
    • Microgenre:  Detective
  • Subgenre:  Thriller
    • Microgenre:  Political
      • Nanogenre:  Spy Fiction

Thus, it looks like it’s still of just one genre, albeit of multiple subgenres.

Taxonomies of literary genres have grown increasing complex, numbering a couple dozen or so in the middle of the 20th Century to more than 300 today.  If you think that level of hyperfocus is a bit too constraining, you’re not alone.  Even so, many writers and most books on writing continue reiterating the same thing:  “Pick a genre and stick with it.”  With so many genres out there, however, it’s nearly impossible to write a novel that stays in its lane.

 

Multi-Genre Fiction is Not New

Fortunately, articles such as Considering Alternatives: Multi-genre Literature and Multi-genre Writing (Scully, 2008) remind us that award-winning multi-genre fiction isn’t exactly new.  Robert A. Heinlein, for example, has won the Hugo five times, with eleven nominations, even though most of his novels are a mix of science fiction, romance, political, thriller, and even western genres.

So, do you want to allow yourself to be stuffed into a nice, tidy label, or do you want to write about that for which the masses are hungry?  I prefer the latter, and I hope you do, as well.  Even so, we still live in the real world, and if we want to be published, we need to adhere to at least a few standards, including those involving genres.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t write a book that fits into multiple genres.  You can, and public demand has long been dragging the publishing industry in the multi-genre direction.  Readers like it because it’s fun, and people everywhere are usually willing to pay for fun, so until someone crafts a non-purist reason for always coloring within one’s genre lines, be creative and pass the popcorn.


About CSWriters:

CSWriters meets for camaraderie, study, and critiques at 6:00 PM every Friday night at Agia Sophia Coffee Shop.  Guest Speaker Jeff Gerke will be joining us to discuss his “Hack Your Reader’s Mind,” October 27th.  Find CS Writers on Facebook or at CSWriters.com to learn more.


Steve Janss went to high school and college in Virginia before serving our nation in the Air Force.  He holds advanced degrees in management and business administration, and has been running CSWriters for nearly three years.  He is currently writing Body on a Cold Beach, the second of five novels in a series.

Quote of the Week Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Maria Hunt Jackson, born Helen Fiske, was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States government

Helen Hunt Jackson, born Helen Maria Fiske on October 15, 1830 in Amherst, MA was orphaned as a child and raised by her aunt. Jackson was sent to private schools and formed a lasting childhood friendship with Emily Dickinson. At the age of 21, Jackson married Lieutenant Edward Bissell Hunt and together they had two sons. Jackson began writing poetry only after the early deaths of her husband and both sons.

Jackson published five collections of poetry, including Verses (1870) and Easter Bells (1884), as well as children’s literature and travel books, often using the pseudonyms “H.H.,” “Rip van Winkle,” or “Saxe Holm.”

Frequently in poor health, she moved to Colorado Springs, CO to take “The Cure” for respiratory illness on her physician’s recommendation. She met and married William Sharpless Jackson in 1875.

In 1881, Jackson became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States after hearing an 1879 speech by Chief Standing Bear.  In 1881  she wrote A Century 

of Dishonor, an exposé of the rampant crimes against Native Americans.  Her work led to the founding of the Indian Rights Association. In 1884 she published Ramona, a fictionalized account of the plight of Southern California’s dispossessed Mission Indians,.

Helen Hunt Jackson died on August 12, 1885, in San Franscico, CA and is buried at the Evergreen Cemetary in Colorado Springs, CO.  She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1985.

(portrait of Helen Hunt Jackson Courtesy of New York Public Library)



Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog, is an engineer by trade and a writer by passion. Her published works included government studies, textbook credits, research abstracts, training manuals and poetry. She has extensive experience in website design and maintenance, blog content and management, and SEO. Gabrielle has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon and currently writes speculative fiction, humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. You can reach Gabrielle at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.

 

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Coming This Week

On the Blog:

Pikes Peak Writers Blog features the next installment of Jason Evans’ series on Historical Fiction.  Jason provides some candid insight on what works (and doesn’t) for successful book launch marketing.  Look for this piece on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

And in Colorado Springs:

October Write Brain – Writing Disable Characters

Monday October 16, 2017 6:15 – 8:15 at Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80920 (get directions)

What: Writing Disabled Characters

Who: Abby J. Reed

When: October 16th, 6:15 – 8:15pm – Note: This is a Monday! Temporary day of week change due to library reservations

Where: Venue@21c (upper floor, to the right if coming in the upper entrance) of Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80920

More Information: With more agents and publishers looking to support diversity in their lists, come learn the do’s and dont’s of writing a disabled character. Learn about The Spoon Theory, The Stages of Grief, Tropes to avoid and why, the role of medication and therapy, portraying your character as a holistic individual, and more.

About the Presenter: Abby J. Reed has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, released in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing and is the first in a trilogy. Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com.


Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog, is an engineer by trade and a writer by passion. Her published works included government studies, textbook credits, research abstracts, training manuals and poetry. She has extensive experience in website design and maintenance, blog content and management, and SEO. Gabrielle has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon and currently writes speculative fiction, humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. You can reach Gabrielle at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.

 

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Events this Week

  • Pikes Peak Writers is committed to helping writers grow and thrive through education, outreach, and community.Some of our events are for members only, some are open to the public.  Membership is free and its easy to join, just click here.

    Write Drunk, Edit Sober Oct 11, 2017 — 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

    Location: Bar K 124 E Costilla St. Colorado Springs, CO 80903 (get directions)

    Please join Deb Courtney for Write Drunk*, Edit Sober on the second Wednesday of every month. We start at 6:30 PM will run until approximately 9 PM. It is located in the lower level of Bar K in Downtown Colorado Springs.

    The basic format is improv writing followed by discussion of critical techniques useful in unpacking improv responses in order to further develop them.

    Bar K is located on Costilla, between Tejon and Nevada.

    This event is no host, which means Pikes Peak Writers will not be providing the drinks. Alcohol/soft drinks are available for purchase. There is no food service; owners have graciously agreed to allow outside food/snacks. Please be courteous and leave no messes.

    This event is only open to writers who are at least 21 years old.

    Hope to see you there.

    * Pikes Peak Writers does not endorse or approve of drinking to excess. Please, if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drink responsibly.


    Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

    Gabrielle V. Brown, Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog, is an engineer by trade and a writer by passion. Her published works included government studies, textbook credits, research abstracts, training manuals and poetry. She has extensive experience in website design and maintenance, blog content and management, and SEO. Gabrielle has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon and currently writes speculative fiction, humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. You can reach Gabrielle at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.

     

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Quote of the Week Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert, (8 October 1920 – 11  February 1986) was an American science-fiction writer noted as the author of the best-selling, Dune, considered a classic in the science fiction genre.

Prior to the success of Dune, Herbert worked as a journalist, photographer, and book reviewer.  Early in his career he sold pulp adventure and romance short stories to magazines. He began writing science fiction in the early 1950s had his short stories were published in Startling Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, and Amazing Stories.  

In the Dune series, Herbert tackled such themes as ecology, evolution, genetic manipulation, and mystical and psychic  possibilities.

Dune, was rejected 20 times before publication in 1965; the novel went on to sell over 12 million copies. The Dune Series became a movie, two television series, and video games. Herbert’s estate has recently released studio rights to Herbert’s work. According to Variety, Legendary Films will film a new Dune movie, screenplay by Eric Roth and directed by Denis Villeneuve.

 


Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog, is an engineer by trade and a writer by passion. Her published works included government studies, textbook credits, research abstracts, training manuals and poetry. She has extensive experience in website design and maintenance, blog content and management, and SEO. Gabrielle has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon and currently writes speculative fiction, humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. You can reach Gabrielle at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.

 

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Fall in Love with Your Story

Readers, I introduce to you to Samantha Crane, a recipient of a Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017 scholarship.  We ask those who benefit from our scholarship program to share a bit about their experience at PPWC.  We hope to see Sam back next year ready to pitch!

Each year, the Pikes Peak Writers organization offers a limited number of scholarships to aspiring writers who could not otherwise attend the Conference.  Since 1993, scholarships have been made possible by generous contributions from friends of PPW and participants of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and we thank those donors.   Scholarship applications for Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 will be open beginning in November 2017.   More information is available here.

The next Pikes Peak Writers Conference  is April 27-29, 2018 in Colorado Springs, CO.

Gabrielle Brown, Managing Editor


I arrived at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017 ready to quit writing. I had not worked on my manuscript for ages and I had begun to hate it. While at the conference, the most amazing thing happened. I fell in love with my story again!

After four years of my manuscript waiting for me, I came out of this conference weekend with a bare-bones outline for my first book. I was even able to come up with concepts for two more books, taking this idea from hated and ignored to a trilogy that I am excited to work on. I really can’t pin it down on one “aha” moment because every second spent at the conference was building back up my love of writing. Of the 14 workshops I had the opportunity to attend over the weekend, two really stood out to me.

 

Impactful Sessions

The first was “Writing Worlds That Work” with Carol Berg. She gave us so much information that I filled nine pages worth of notes. Ms. Berg covered everything from the definition of setting versus world to the background of your world–that is what is 

happening around your character–to keeping your plot unpredictable. Ms. Berg even gave activities to complete so we would grasp the concepts better. 

The second class that stood out to me, perhaps because of my own manuscript idea, was “Designing Magic” with M.H. Boroson. With his help I was able to better define and make sense of the magic within my world. Instead of having a vague idea of there being magic, I now have ideas to make it an impactful part of my current manuscript.

 

Writers Encouraging Writers

While I loved the workshops that I took and the speakers had such helpful information, I have to say that it was the people that were there that had the most impact on me. From the very first day when I sat down at the query help desk to the final meal on Sunday, I was encouraged by everyone I spoke with. The most common phrases I heard during the conference, and probably the words that will stick with me most, are “just finish it” and “you will finish it”. 

The conference was not all work, however. In our down time we were able to talk with other authors, editors, and agents. We had opportunity to get favorite books signed and shop for new additions to our collections. One of the most fun experiences was the costume dinner. It was wonderful to see so many people dress as beloved characters. The dinner had contests and prizes and is something I will be looking forward to every year.

 

Turning Point

This conference was a drastic turning point in what I can now call my writing career. I would suggest that every writer, even every person that has a story in mind, attend this conference. You will come away with not only a deeper understanding of writing and its techniques, but you will also receive encouragement by the ton, ideas, and maybe a few new friends. Take the chance, you won’t believe the change this conference can make in your life.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying thank you, Pikes Peak writers conference 2017, I wish the conference could have lasted longer.


photo of Samantha Crane

Samantha Crane lives in Colorado with her husband and two children. She is first and foremost a wife and mother, who has joyfully taken on the  additional responsibility of homeschooling a preschooler and a kindergartener. In her free time Sam likes Fiber Arts such as crocheting, knitting, and has even tried her hand at spinning and dying her own yarn. Sam began reading when she was 4 years old but never really tried to write fiction until she was an adult. She is now currently working on her very first novel that combines her love of the Fantasy and Mysteries genres with a bit of Horror. Sam is hoping that she will be able to finish it and have it ready for editing within the next year, preferably in time for the next conference.



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From Art to Can of Soup – Marketing Your Book

Readers, today we have installment number ten on Jason Henry Evans’ series on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction.  Today he shares marketing tips.


Wow. Ten months ago I said I wanted to do a series of basic how-to’s for historical fiction. While this was originally conceived as an eight part series, it has grown to ten – yes ten blogs – on how to write and publish your historical fiction.

Over this year we have covered:

  • Story ideas
  • Historical research
  • Story planning
  • Character arcs
  • Publishing goals
  • Writing strategies
  • And a bunch of other stuff.

So now what are we going to talk about? Cover art? How to handle your millions in royalties? Managing the paparazzi in three easy steps? Make-up techniques for television?

Nope. None of that. There is one area we have not covered. It’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

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Best of the Best Countdown #9

Today please enjoy the first in our series Best of the Best. We’re counting down our most popular blog posts of all time. Last November, Patrick Hester provided some great advice on crafting a page turner.  Take a look and see  howPatrick keeps his readers engaged.

Enjoy.

Gabrielle Brown,  Managing Editor


How to Craft the Ultimate Page Turner

By: Patrick Hester

Hi there! My name is Patrick Hester. I’m a PPW member, have taught at Write Brains and PPWC, and volunteer as a board member for Pikes Peak Writers. I’m also an author, leaning toward science fiction and fantasy, though I have dabbled in all sorts of fiction. I have a critique partner named JT Evans. You might know him as both a contributor to this blog, and as President of Pikes Peak Writers. One of the kind things he and others have said to me numerous times is how well I do scene and chapter breaks. That means a lot to me, because I work hard on them. I want my readers to turn the page and keep reading, not take a break.

The secret to doing that well? The answer might surprise you.

Two of my favorite things: comic books and Classic Doctor Who.

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Board Elections

If you would like to be more involved in the direction and stewardship of Pikes Peak Writers, please consider running for a position on the board. In September, the board will vote on President (incumbent running), Vice President, Treasurer (incumbent running) and Member at Large positions. To be considered, please submit a 1-2 page letter of interest, including why you want the job, what you bring to the table, and a little about your volunteer experience, PPW or otherwise. Letters should be submitted to president@pikespeakwriters.com no later than Sept. 12.

The time requirement for the board varies. The board meets quarterly, usually on a weeknight, for approximately two hours. The board reviews operational budgets annually, and different members work on different projects. Members at Large represent our PPW members to the board. If you have any questions, please contact Bowen Gillings, president@pikespeakwriters.com.