As an author I classify myself as ‘Genre Agnostic’.
I learned this title at a writer’s group meeting I attended some years ago. Genre agnostic basically means you write in a variety of genres. I myself have written historical fiction, non fiction, creative non-fiction, psychological suspense and am currently working on a series of crime fiction novels.
In 2016 I published The Graveyard Shift, as an individual ebook and as part of The New Neighbors short story collection. The Graveyard Shift os based on the true experiences of a medical student who starts to experience unusual events at the old hospital where he works the nightshift. These experiences belonged to a doctor I met years ago, who shared his experiences with me after learning I was a writer.
While my short stories are generally dark and disturbing, The Graveyard Shift was my first step into the realm of the supernatural. I thoroughly enjoyed leading the reader on, having them biting their nails while teetering on the edge of their seat. However as I prepared to start creating The Graveyard Shift, I knew from my previous writing studies that there was a definite difference between writing suspense and writing horror. I plan to address these differences in more detail in my next post.
I came up against the same challenge when I started working on my latest short story, Grave Bargains. This time I was delving into the world of black magic and ancient Jewish mysticism. This story was a work-in-progress for several years. The research was tricky as well; while I was quite capable of conjuring up spells in my imagination, a part of me felt I should honour the craft with accuracy. Also, I wanted my story to appear professional and well-researched before readers of this genre, even if the elements were fictionalised to a degree.
So how did I navigate my way through this new genre territory?
Here are three tips.
- Do Your Research.Well, of course. But not just a skim through a couple of articles; give the genre the respect it deserves, especially if it is not a genre you normally write in. I learned as much as I could about writing horror and the differences (and similarities) between it and other types of suspense/thriller writing. Also, I cannot tell you how many articles I read on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Keep It Simple (If Just At First)During the writing process of Grave Bargains, I was very tempted to delve deep into my main antagonist’s mysterious past as the latest in a long line of necromantic bedouin mystics from the Judean Desert. However I tried to keep in mind that this was only my second crack at supernatural suspense, and certainly my first try at writing about magic. So I kept it easy for myself and didn’t go too overboard: I told my story, I presented the concept and got the idea across. Maybe later I will follow up Grave Bargains with a sequel exploring the antagonist’s background a little deeper.
- Have Fun!
If you’re a perfectionist like me (what writer doesn’t have a perfectionist streak??) you’re determined to make sure the details of your story are well-researched and credible. However there is a stage when you must draw the line. Some of the answers I sought in my research for Grave Bargains simply weren’t available, especially those surrounding black magic and resurrection spells (I found that the latter is heavily warned against and avoided by even by the most dedicated practitioners). There comes a time when you need to stop researching and just start creating. And if there are some details you haven’t been able to find answers for, make it up! Dedicated readers of the genre will appreciate your efforts. At the end of the day, if you are writing fiction especially, there is a degree of creative licence that you are allowed.I hope that you have found this post insightful and helpful if you are considering taking the leap into a new genre.
Do YOU have any tips on experimenting with new genres, or about horror writing? Please do leave them in the comments!
Grave Bargains is Available NOW.
Click HERE to find out more!