Yesterday, I finally came up with the tag line for this blog. Dream it, Write it, Publish it.
I thought talking about the Dream it stage might be helpful. Story for me either comes first as a plot or as a character begging for a plot. The story arrives in my head from various activities like after reading a newspaper article, or from a song lyric, or even a comment from a colleague. Another example is my untitled book sitting on simmer for a few months; it’s a dark fantasy that came from a dream. Body Wave’s roots or its plot came from a newspaper story about a fraud conducted by a trusted city employee upon elderly women. I morph all the ideas that come in the dream it stage in order to build conflict, in other words, I think what if. Once I had the plot established, I had to decide on genre. This is an important step and I blew it. Yes, that’s right I made a crucial mistake, and I don’t want you to do the same.
My aim was to write a cozy mystery that would become a series–A Text-A-Nurse mystery. I planned to enter book one in a national contest, called Malice Domestic. I wrote the novel and it just flowed out. Body Wave was a finalist, but under another name. After trying to shop it for months, an editor finally told me the book had too much of a light romance theme for the genre. I wasn’t aware then of how important sticking to genre was.
The cozy mystery allows a romance line, but the scope of the mystery should outweigh the romance. Something along the lines of 75% mystery and 25% romance. My balance was more 60% mystery and 40% romance. This was the mistake. Worse, the protagonist I created, Reece Carson, needed a romance. I couldn’t kick it out once I’d finished the book without re-writing plot and a major character. Besides, I loved the romance line between the two characters. So basically the book had good bones, but couldn’t sell as a cozy, nor could it sell as a romance. I wrote a hybrid story I’ve coined as a CoRo. Half and half light mystery and light romance. My CoRo is now self published. I hope some reader likes reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Bottom line: In the dream it stage determine your genre, and make sure your characters fit the genre map as well. Don’t upset the balance by adding too much of a sub genre element. Make sure you know the requirements for your primary genre before you write, and that way you won’t go off target. Good Luck, but if you end up with a hybrid like me, be sure to let me know if you gave it a special name like CoRo.