I almost hate to say that out loud. Not because I’m embarrassed, but because many of my favorite authors write in the genre and I feel rather unworthy.
But since my latest romantic suspense is out on submission, I wanted to start something new and stretch my writing muscles. Cue one of my closest friends who basically dared me to write a “long dress book.” Mostly because they’re her favorites, and partly because she says my heroes are all historical heroes in modern clothes anyway.
To break out of my comfort zone even further, I’ve plotted this using beat sheets and turning points. Me – the eternal pantser and consummate content editor/re-editor, who’s known to over-write everything. I’ve actually spent a lot of time considering this plot and these characters before I’ve ever written a word.
I’m tired already, and I’m only on Chapter 3. But here are a few things that I’ve noticed so far about switching genres:
- Tension, not suspense.
No one is running for their life in this book. There’s no threat of a villain in the shadows with a gun, no dead bodies, no mortal fear. This time the villains are armed with words and manipulation. It’s tense. And, because there isn’t an overt threat, there are many more potential antagonists to manage.
2. Research is fun, but such a rabbit hole.
I love finding out those great details about Regency food, clothes, manners, etc. However, it’s easy to fall into the “ooh, what’s that?” trap. And, honestly, sometimes those great details get in the way of actually telling the story.
3. A manageable number of people
One word: servants. And families, and villagers, and … See? I’ve already gone way past one word. Because most of them are integral to the story (see tension, above). How on earth do I keep this believable but keep my hero and heroine center stage? It’s a drafting puzzle, and it’s an exercise in keeping the pantsing side of my brain occupied by something new and shiny. (Hello, Spotify.)
I’m going to keep up with my daring experiment and see if I can tell this sort of story – if I can do my characters and the plot justice. I really want to expand my storytelling skills, and my plot bunny – all about English country houses and gardens, second chances, and making your own family – is perfect for this genre.
Sometimes you simply need to try something new.