Editing Rant: Know Your Genre

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you want to write, you must read. If you want to write, read your genre. Many published authors remind writers to read outside their genre, but they are assuming people have immersed themselves in genre they write in.

First, you need to know your genre. Get to know its tropes; what are things people ignore in the genre and things which must be explained. What are the shorthand terms. Read recent books in the genre to know what is trending both in the brick-and-mortar industry and the self-published. Read classic books to know the history the genre is built on.

If you write superhero prose, do not have all the battles “off-screen”. If you have a romance, all affection cannot remain behind “closed doors”. In the science-fiction world, faster-than-light travel can be hand-waved but space stations nearly always are explained in detailed from how the gravity works and where spaceships dock to planetary connections for food and how many levels are within the structure.

If you can’t stand to read the genre long enough to understand the tropes and rules, don’t write it. Three manuscripts I reviewed this year – three fails: superhero prose with fights described after the fact in conversation – not a single “on-screen” battle, a “romance” where the couple never hugs or kisses, and sci-fi where the space station had less personality than an office building.

Read your genre – and outside of it (because, yeah, that is important too). Know the must-haves and the have-nots.

Flash: The Tower

Cold mid-December wind stung Priscilla’s cheeks, and froze her chapped lips where she had been licking them. She remained still beside Gregory, holding his hand, waiting for the bus to arrive. Inside she was bouncing and screaming. She didn’t want to put a shadow over their last time together this year, but holding her tongue when every instinct told her to speak was driving her mad. She had been waffling since the morning. At last she could hold her trepidation no longer.

Squeezing his hand tighter, staring at the road, Priscilla begged, “Don’t go.”

Gregory’s brown eyes closed. Thick lashes covered in melting snowflakes. “It’s my family. They expect me home for the holidays.”

“You know what the cards said.” She always ran a Tarot spread before either of them traveled.

Using their joined hands to draw her closer, Gregory engulfed her in a hug. “The Tower is not always a bad card. There are no bad cards, you always tell me that.”

“But this time, … you felt the energy.” She lifted her head to look intently into his face, searching for something. “Don’t pretend you didn’t feel it. Please don’t go mundane on me now.”

His forehead fell against hers. Their breaths puffed fog in the cold air between their nearly joined lips.

*Chaos is fairly normal on Christmas day.* he sent into her thoughts trying to reassure her. Images of past Christmases danced across their shared link.

*It wasn’t life-birth chaos.* The circling maelstrom of worry within her troubled mind would not stop. She sent back the energy vibration they had felt when the card fell into place on the spread, *Crisis –change – disruption – pain*

“It will be okay.” Comfort laced his voice in a way he could not layer in his private, more straightforward thoughts. Her lips were so close his touched hers when he moved his mouth to speak. His right hand, more accurately conveying the fear he felt, knotted in her hair, pressing her head forward. His mouth devoured hers as he sought comfort from and try to give calm to his soul mate.

Tears were streaming down her face when they broke apart. “Please, please, at least let me go with you. You saw, a Queen of Cups could change things. That’s my card. I should go.”

“And lose your job? Miss Solstice with your coven just as you move into primary point?” Threading both hands through her hair to massage the back of her head, he brought their foreheads together. *I will not have the Tower transfer to you.*

Beside them, the bus’ air brakes hissed.

Gregory started untangling his fingers. He had one hand fully free when Priscilla lips pressed together.

“Pl—,” his finger touched her lips.

“Don’t make me deny you a third time my love.”

Ashamed as she was about to require just such an action from him, Priscilla shook her head. “No, of course not.” She swallowed back her anxiety. “Travel well. May the wind be at your back and the sun warm your face.”

“Remain safe. May your garden grow green and your table stay filled.” Gregory gave her one last quick kiss before picking up his backpack and boarding the bus.

(words 537 – originally appearing at Breathless Press 9/22/2013 for the 7/8/12 Sunday Fun –  – The original photo was of unknown copyright so did not put on my site – published on old blog 9/22/2013; republished in new blog format on 12/10/2017)


Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words October 1, 2010

Acquired from the internet hive mind


Two approaches are available to writing: debutante hobby and professional career. Both are legitimate options. Which path to take depends on your goals, the success you want. (See previous post on defining Success for yourself.)

I just ran across an interesting post A.J. Hartley made a while back, you know the award-winning, NY Times best-selling author of SteepleJack and Macbeth: A Novel. That A.J. Hartley. Back in 2010 he wrote: Mistakes I made Part III: Writing as Hobby. He talked about the twenty years he played at writing while teaching Shakespeare as a college professor. The post (and the related entries of the series) capture his change from writing as a hobby to a career.

Was he wrong not to treat it as a career sooner? Was the time he spend with it as a hobby wasted: writing, playing, learning the craft of writing? Would he be the author he is today without the twenty years of practice?

While the world slumbers this winter (or for those in the Southern Hemisphere, during the heat of the summer), think on how you should define your writing success. Should it be a hobby or a career? What should it be right now, and what might you want in twenty years? Would it be okay for it to be a hobby in your 30’s and a career for your 60’s? Should you treat it as a 10-hour a week professional part-time job for the immediate future to test your BIC capability?

See the full post here while you consider: http://www.magicalwords.net/aj-hartley/mistakes-i-made-part-iii-writing-as-hobby/

Book Review: Temporally Out of Order

Amazon Cover - Temporally Out of Order

Book Cover from Amazon

Temporally Out of Order, an anthology by Zombies Needs Brains publishing company


It’s frustrating when a gadget stops working. But what if the gadget is working fine, it’s just “temporally” out of order? What would you do if you discovered your cell phone linked you to a different time? Or that your camera took pictures of the past?

In this collection, seventeen leading science fiction authors share their take on what happens when gadgets run temporally amok. From past to future, humor to horror, there’s something for everyone.

Join Seanan McGuire, Elektra Hammond, David B. Coe, Chuck Rothman, Faith Hunter, Edmund R. Schubert, Steve Ruskin, Sofie Bird, Laura Resnick, Amy Griswold, Laura Anne Gilman, Susan Jett, Gini Koch, Christopher Barili, Stephen Leigh, Juliet E. McKenna, and Jeremy Sim as they investigate how ordinary objects behaving temporally out of order can change our everyday lives.



Read in one sitting which is not why I buy anthologies … I just couldn’t put this one down.

One of the best anthologies I have read in consistence of quality. I did not find a single one of poor quality and think at least a few will haunt me for a while. The only down-side is the temporal issues (the theme of the anthology being an artifact making time act wrong) was repetitive; and I am never a big fan of time-travel stuff. Which when I say, every short story in the book is good, means an anti-time sci-fi reader enjoyed the entire collection.

Highlights – Batting Out of Order by Edmund Schubert made me cry (again his short works stands out in an anthology, the man needs to write more and edit less); Black and White by David B. Coe reminds us history may be hidden by those trying to rewrite the past, but it is never truly gone; Dinosaur Stew by Chuck Rothman is a lark straight out of the crock pot; The Passing Bell by Amy Griswwold is a strange action adventure; All is not as it Seems by Faith Hunter is an excellent addition to the Yellowrock universe; and Cell Service by Christopher Barili is one of the many “family” stories, because what reaches through time the most to affect us is our blood and our loves whether good or ill – one should always accept the call. 

From crock pots to baseball cards, library rooms to parking garages, you never know when technology might have gone wrong … or what the time stream may be doing to correct it. Each story is more imaginative than the last.