P.S. If any of my previous Q&A authors would like to write a guest post about anything writing-related, please feel free to shoot me an email! I'd love to hear your ideas.
Transgenreism and You!
by Steve Karmazenuk
Today we’re going to talk about Transgenreism, or writing across genres. What is this strange-sounding practice, you may ask? It is when a writer, who is best known for his or her work in a particular genre of fiction decides to write something completely outside the spectrum of their previous writing.
Imagine if you will, if horror novelist Stephen King suddenly decided to tell a coming-of-age story about four friends on a quest to see a dead body! Or, imagine if legal thriller writer John Grisham decided to tell the semifictional story story of a childhood summer at the family farm in Arkansas. Or what if thriller writer Greg Iles decided to write a science fiction story about a self-aware quantum computer? Or if a budding science fiction author decided to tell the story of six friends hanging out and living life in college in the early 1990’s...hmm...
What I think it boils down to one simple thing: all good writers are, at heart, storytellers. We’re compelled to tell the stories we tell, the way we tell them. Sometimes, we develop preferences for one specific genre over another. Sometimes, we write “crossover” material and sometimes that’s just the story that wants us to tell it.
My own experiences with transgenreism have been eye-opening. The eBook I thought would do well, Oh Well, Whatever, Never Mind, hasn’t, and the one that I thought would probably do okay, The Unearthing, has far exceeded my expectations. But of course, the transgenre experience doesn’t begin with book sales, but with writing.
So, let’s explore how it is that Never Mind came to be: I was pulled away from writing Through Darkness and Stars followup to The Unearthing and the second story in the science-fiction epic I’d been at work on, for (at that point) five years. I was pulled from Darkness (which I’ll be releasing later this year) in order to work on this...intruder...an insistent, compelling thing that demanded my full attention, until it was done.
The story of Never Mind presented itself to my writer’s mind not so much as a narrative, but rather as a thought experiment: a series of “I wonder if I could...” challenges that I felt compelled to accept and overcome. Could I write something that WASN’T Sci-Fi? Could I write with a convincing female voice? Could I write for gay characters and sexual situations as well as straight? Could I tell six different stories, simultaneously? Could I tell those stories from six different points of view? How far could I go just allowing the characters, themselves to dictate plot? I started seeing the story in terms of cause and effect, instead of a voyage to a destination.
Let me explain what I mean: Usually, when a writer writes, we tend to know (or want to know) where we want the story to go; we know the destination – or likely destination at least – and there are a few things we know we need to stop and do along the way. Scenes we want our characters to be in, things we want them to say, places we want them to go. Certainly, that was very much the case, when I wrote The Unearthing: When I wrote it, I had had a vision of the complete story already formed in my mind. But with Never Mind I found not so much that I was planning out an itinerary, as much as I was jumping into a car with each character, screaming “ROAD TRIP!” as loud as I could and hitting their car-bong.
Writing Never Mind was very educational. I feel I truly perfected speaking through the voices of my characters, as I wrote this. When I returned to work on Through Darkness and Stars, I found myself unsatisfied with how the characters of that one were portrayed. So much so that I went back and re-read and revised The Unearthing, before going back and rewriting what I’d so far written, for Darkness.
Never Mind is a one-off; a unique story, in such that it is the only non-genre fiction I’ve ever written. I’ve never intended it to be anything other than what it is. Would I revisit the characters? Possibly. I won’t rule out any new stories for old friends. However, I will remain open to whatever story the universe throws at me; I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t.
If you’d like to check out my work and judge for yourself how well I did, and if you’d like to compare and contrast the two stories, the links for both are below. Right now you’re in luck; For the month of May I’ve lowered the prices on Unearthing and Never Mind to $0.99 on Amazon Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, there are free Kindle apps for the PC, iPad, and most smartphones.
To read Oh Well, Whatever, Never Mind click here:
And to read The Unearthing click here: