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Friday, March 14, 2008

What Genre is Unique for your ‘Voice?’ by Beth Kery

I’ve heard that given your unique writer’s voice that certain genres will work for you better than others. You might have the perfect voice for a paranormal or suspense but a rotten one for chick lit or even a contemporary. As a relatively new writer, I’m still not only trying to figure out where my voice fits best, but also trying to pin down what, precisely, my voice even is.

I recognize other author’s voices instinctively—the tone, the vocabulary they tend to use, the shadows of their unique life experiences, even the nuances of their personalities. Some writer’s have such a distinctive voice you would know them without seeing the cover (From my own personal experience I think of Sandra Brown, Neil Gaiman or Sarah McCarty, to name a few off the top of my head.) I try to picture Sandra Brown writing a fantasy/sci-fi or Neil Gaiman writing a category romance novel. Uh uh. No way. First of all, I’m going to take a wild guess and say neither author wants to write in those genres. But does your preference for genre directly relate to your voice?

So far, I’ve written contemporaries, paranormals and historicals. I’ve done both erotic and ‘steamy’ romance. I started out wanting to write paranormals, maybe because they’re what I like to read the most. I discovered along the way that I love writing contemporaries, however, even though I didn’t expect that I would. Something about writing real people with real emotions fits with my writing style better than I thought it would.

I contracted with Berkley Sensation for contemporary novels and just recently got another contract with Berkley Heat to do a couple paranormals, so I suspect I’ll have something more to say about it in the future. In the meantime, I’m just wandering along my writer’s path, gawking at the amazing, unexpected sites like a girl from corn country on her first trip to the city and learning as I go along. It does make me wonder, though, what other writers think about the matter. How did you choose the genre(s) you write? Do you think a ‘good’ writer should be able to cross genres, regardless of writer voice?



Beth Kery
www.bethkery.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tripleXposure/join
www.myspace.com/bethkery

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10 Comments:

Blogger Evie Byrne said...

Hi Beth,

I think this is an interesting question, particularly for a new writer.

I started out writing historical romance, because that's the genre I read. I love the research, I love the clothes and crafting the settings--it's all very yummy.

But then I thought I'd try my hand at paranormal, and I found out that urban fantasy really brings out my sense of humor.

I'm too new a writer to know for sure yet, but I hope I'll be able to keep writing in both of these voices, because the they reflect different, but very essential, parts of my personality.

However, it may turn out that only one of the voices sells. I imagine that happens a lot with new writers. The market crafts our voice to a certain extent.

Or maybe this "two voices" idea is just an illusion of mine. Maybe my voice carries across genre more than I know.

It's like trying to figure out if your butt looks alright in a pair of new jeans. Someone else really has to tell you.

Like you, I figure this is going to be a process of discovery.

My first published story, an erotic romance set in 18th c. Venice, is coming out with Samhain in Sept., and that will be followed by a vampire tale set in sunny Colorado a few months later.

Will I be able to convince readers to cross genres to read both stories? Or will I learn that one genre is my true strength? It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Best,

Evie

March 15, 2008 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger beth kery said...

Hi Evie,
Good points. I particularly like your butt in the jeans analogy! I agree, your voice and what works is something you need to have feedback on. It's almost impossible to 'see' on your own.

Congrats on your sales to Samhain and good luck. I have my first coming out there on April 29th called 'Take a Stranger No More.' It's a historical menage. I love historicals as well.

Thanks!

Beth

March 16, 2008 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

>>trying to pin down what, precisely, my voice even is.

Trying to describe voice (and how to find it) is like trying to herd cats! LOL

My first love is first person. I write mostly in first person. I can tell, at this stage of the game, whether somethign needs to be in first or third and most of my single titles are first AND third (split by chapters with usually only two points of view). I've done first person past tense, first present (and past split by chapter), third person past and mixed it up all kinds of ways. I've tried YA, Chick lit, steamy romance, erotica/erotic romance, urban fantasy, women's fiction and mainstream southern fiction.

I know my voice and i think a reader could pick up on whatever it is that makes my voice mine regardless of the genre.

March 17, 2008 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger beth kery said...

I've tried YA, Chick lit, steamy romance, erotica/erotic romance, urban fantasy, women's fiction and mainstream southern fiction.

Hi Amy! You sound very accomplished...and busy! What did you enjoy writing the most? Does anything feel more 'genuine' to you than others?

Beth

March 17, 2008 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Robin Snodgrass said...

Very interesting blog Beth. Plus it's garnered some comments that are also interesting. I agree that there are some authors whose voice is very distinctive and recognizable, while others - not so much. Thanks for the thought provoking blog. :)

March 17, 2008 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

What did you enjoy writing the most? Does anything feel more 'genuine' to you than others?

Is it okay to say I enjoyed writing it all?

LOL Ok s'rsly anything set in the south I love and it'll probably always be my first love in that regard whether it's Texas or Atlanta but I have a special soft spot for the Texas Hill Country.

First person is probably my first love in terms of how I write because it's what I cut my teeth on. That said, I'm all for writing a book however it needs to be written.

I've sold erotica and ER. I'd love to sell something more mainstream like Southern Fic, I'd love to write a YA (something my kids can read), I'd love to sell the UF my agent is shopping. obviously, I don't believe in limiting myself LOL and I think that's okay. Because you don't know what you can do or where you fit if you don't try. Right now I'm writing an erotic romance that has a mystery in it *shrug*

I'm not sure I answered your question but I will say, the more I write, the longer I write the more I find myself wanting to write bigger and bigger stories.

March 17, 2008 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Ohhhhhh LOL As a reader, voice is HUGE for me. It's equal in importance to characterization.

March 17, 2008 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger beth kery said...

Plus it's garnered some comments that are also interesting.

I agree! Thanks for checking it out, Robin!

March 17, 2008 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger beth kery said...

I will say, the more I write, the longer I write the more I find myself wanting to write bigger and bigger stories.

Wow, you're becoming more ambitious...or confident! That's awesome. I always think I should cut back some!
Who are your publishers, Amie?
Beth

March 17, 2008 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Beth I'm with Kensington (sorry I forgot to pop back by here yesterday), Cobblestone and LSB =)

March 20, 2008 at 7:25 AM  

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