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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

We'd like to welcome today's PAN member, Michele Hauf, as she discusses ruts and freak flags.

As many writers in the paranormal genre know, we have a tendency to get pigeonholed into a very specific niche of the genre. Some of us only write dark, some light and humorous, others thrive on action/adventure demons and whatnot. If the readers love it, they ask for more. This makes our editors ask for more of the same, as well. We get stuck in a rut.

Now, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be in a rut. Actually, it’s quite good. As long as you enjoy what you write, and the readers do too, then I say ‘Go rut!’. But I’m sure I speak for a majority of us when I say we are more than that single-focused rut. Our imaginations are vast. Some days we like to write dark, other days we gaze longingly at the comedy project we started a few years ago that begs to be picked up again. But maybe we feel it’s not what is expected from us. We’ve been told to let that idea go, it would freak out our readers to change niches like that. Now, some of you are lucky; you’ve been able to publish your work in various genres with different publishers. How cool is that? Go you! And shouldn’t we all be able to write exactly as the mood takes us? I don’t think it’s a question of being allowed to do so—no one can prevent you from putting the words to page—but it’s more you allowing yourself to exercise that writing muscle that feels a little freaky to you.

This month I’m coming up for air from my usual dark paranormals. I’ve written a novella, “Dust Me, Baby, One More Time” that is pure goofy nuttiness. I locked the mental closet on all my vampires, werewolves and demons for a while. I indulged my funny bone. A sandman hero who has a problem with premature dusting? It would never work for a dark paranormal, but it was perfect for the light stuff.

I think we all need to try our hand at an ‘opposite’ genre every so often. Even if you’re not looking to sell the project, set aside some writing time to explore other parts of your brain. Seriously. We can’t always be slaves to the brooding, blood-hungry heroes or the snarky demon heroine tripping about in Jimmy Choos. Every once in a while, we just need to let our freak flag fly, no matter if that means a healthy sprinkle of faery dust, or a delve into the darkest depths we’ve always wondered about, but have never dared touch.

So what about you? Do you write in one specific ‘niche’ of the paranormal genre? Maybe you write in other genres as well as paranormal? Do you find you need the freedom of working in different genres? Or do you prefer to stick with the one that speaks to you most?



Barbara Monajem said...

Loved this post. I write in two genres - paranormal (somewhat light) and historical - and going back and forth REALLY helps avoid ruts. I'd love to try other stuff, too...if only there was more time!!

Marilu Mann said...

We write contemporary and paranormal but have a longing to do some regency and romantic suspense. :) I think when you have two authors in one team--that's gonna happen. LOL I loved this article. "Dust Me" sounds like a hoot!

Lisa Kessler said...

Great Blog!!!

I write dark paranormal, but I also write a weekly short story for my blog and I can reach out and try other genres there. I really enjoy that flexibility!

I even wrote a YA story a couple weeks ago! I had a great time with it...

Lisa :)

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Para is my normal. I've tried otherwise. Magic, ghosts or other dead things always show up. :)

Great blog, and inspiring to make me possibly try and step out of my 'normal' for a while...

Anonymous said...

I'm like Barbara. I tend to focus mostly on the historical genre, but lately I've come up with a story that has a paranormal aspect to it, while maintaining the historical setting. I haven't started writing it yet (still researching some settings) but I'm excited at trying something new.