Conventional wisdom counsels writers should pick a genre and master it. I can see the validity of the point, but there is also wisdom in learning from others. My first published work was a contract co-author gig for a Horror Romance novel (Yep it’s a thing. Devil Music was a finalist for an EPIC eBook award in the category). I’d really hit a rough patch trying to sell my epic fantasy. Seriously, I could not give this thing away even though my friends and critic partners thought it was good. I even considered giving up trying to get published. Then I was presented with an opportunity to go outside my genre. I had an epiphany. Writers write. They aren’t their genre or condemned to one story. They write anything. That was my “Oh What the Hell” moment. I decided to give it a try and was successfully published under the pen name Thia Myles Vincent.
What I learned from Horror: Each year I either attend the World Horror Convention or KillerCon. These conventions offer a great opportunity to learn and to be around some of the nicest, most positive people on the planet. Horror folks (writers, artists, movie makers) joke that they get all their negative and violent thoughts out on the page, so all that’s left inside is positive and kind. I think it’s true. They accepted me into their fold right away.
Go To Horror for Plot and Tension: Horror writers are masters of tension and suspenseful plots. They have you on the edge of your seat, hiding under the blankets as you peak at the page. This genre necessitates advanced tension levels in each scene in order to scare the begeezus out of its readers. There must always be that element of fear and surprise.
What I learned from Romance: This genre should not be entered into lightly. Writing romance and sex scenes without making them silly is harder than it looks. One thing I learned from the experience is that I’m not good at writing romance. My co-author took care of that end while I wrote the plot and action. Deep respect and hats off to Romance Writers everywhere!
Go To Romance for Characterization: If you sit back and think about what makes Romance successful, you’ll find it is the characters. Romance Writers are pros at finding the inner turmoil and motivations for their characters. While plot plays a big role, it is characterization that really drives this genre. My voice is best in Fantasy and Suspense, but I’ve taken what I’ve learned from Romance and put it into all my work. I’m not a pro yet, but I’m getting there.
Final Thoughts: It is important to find your voice and be true to your art. Don’t forget to take the time to learn. The best way to gain new skills is to try new things, especially when they push you outside your comfort zone.