Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Writing in Different Genres

Today we have an interesting and informative post from Barbara Scott-Emmett on the benefits of writing in different genres. Over to you, Barbara ...

Because I write both mainstream fiction and erotica, and have also ventured into the thriller genre, I am often asked how I cope with writing across different genres. In truth, I find it fairly easy to switch from one type of work to another.

At present I am working on a novel which could perhaps be described as literary or general fiction,  an erotic novella, and some erotic short stories for a new collection. I find that jumping from one to another gives my creativity a boost.

If I'm in a, what I call inspirational, writing phase (brand new stuff, hot off the pen) I can usually only produce between 500 to 1500 words in any one session. Once those words are written, that's it until the next day. And if I'm in an editing phase with my main work, I can only edit for maybe two hours before I start to get stale and have to put it aside.

But when one aspect of the Muse has had enough, I can usually tempt a different side of her out. I can turn to editing something else or even to dashing off the first draft of a new story. In this way, I can get more work done than if I was working on only one project.

Also, the different types of writing I do seem to feed off each other. If my main novel is becoming tired and uninspired, I use the techniques of erotica to spice it up a bit, to make the language more voluptuous, richer, more expressive. Similarly, when the erotica starts to become formulaic and repetitive (after all, there are only so many ways the sex act can be described!), I bring in my other writing skills - to increase the tension, to add a bit of non-erotic background, or to develop a character more. I do sometimes find myself using the same words and phrases I've just used in my mainstream novel but as long as I'm aware of that, it's okay. After all, I can't be accused of plagiarising myself, can I?

Writing erotica can also be a very useful antidote to any form of writers' block. I can rattle off an erotic short story fairly quickly (the bare bones anyway) and this helps get the writing muscles moving so I can tackle something else. Writing erotica seems to use different juices from other writing. (Oh dear, why is it that everything sounds like a double entendre when erotica is up for discussion!)

Writing erotica has also made me unselfconscious about including scenes of a sexual nature in other works. As I describe my work as being a combination of sex and spirituality, that's an important consideration. Although I don't believe in adding sex for the sake of it, it is sometimes necessary to focus on that aspect of life and to explore it and its hidden meaning.

Freud thought everything we did was related to sexual impulses; Jung thought sexual impulses were related to spirituality. (Potted generalised versions there, of course.) I am more of a Jungian in my attitude and I like to look at what is behind human desire and what that desire may really be about. This often involves looking at the darker sides of sex, which I tend to do in my mainstream work. For me, therefore, erotica is an exploration of the lighter side of sex - the fun, uncomplicated side.

When I attempted a thriller (Don't Look Down) I used a different technique again. I tried to make it very fast paced and to have some kind of hook or cliff hanger at the end of each chapter. I don't know how successful I was at that but it was certainly a good exercise in trying to make each chapter interesting in its own right.

I used this same technique on the first draft of my current work in progress (The Spiritual Hunt or Poetic Justice) and it helped me get the first part written fairly quickly. I then had to go back over it and slow it down and flesh it out as it turned out not to be a thriller after all. Nevertheless, using the techniques of a different type of writing was a useful exercise as it made me focus on getting the reader to turn the page.

So, for me, writing in different genres has many advantages - when I'm not coming up with the goods in one area, I can turn my hand to another, thereby increasing my output.

Well, that's the theory anyway.


Barbara Scott Emmett writes mainstream novels, short stories, poetry and plays under her own name and erotica as Barbie Scott.

All her books can be found at Amazon and Pentalpha Publishing Edinburgh or on her BLOG or WEBSITE

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