Saturday, June 26, 2010

Genre Writing--Finding your Niche

I always knew I wanted to write mysteries, and specifically murder mysteries. I loved reading fantasy novels, romance novels, and even certain literary works, but my imagination steered to the darker side. Even in my early attempts, I found myself in the midst of murder and mayhem. I’m sure my teachers worried about my propensity to delve into the mystical world of vampires and werewolves. I know, that’s more along the fantasy and/or horror line, but in my world the vampires and werewolves were the good guys. They only killed those who deserved to die. Or at least in my vivid imagination deserved to die. Murderers, rapists, child molesters and abusers.

So how do you find your niche in genre writing? For me it didn’t really click until I combined all the parts of me into both the characters and the stories. I attempted to write the traditional mystery/crime story, but somewhere along the line I always lost interest. My characters didn’t leave a lasting impression. My protagonist just wasn’t strong enough, odd enough or perhaps dark enough inside to carry me through the entire story. And then I read Dean Koontz Odd Thomas. An inspiration to be me. There were so many things about Odd Thomas that I related to. I understood him. The dark and the light. The fear and the need. I was enthralled.

I then took a look at my own stories to define what I was missing. And what I found was that I was missing life. My life. The things that made me odd or unique, depending on how you look at metaphysical teachers, psychics and paranormal investigators. I had purposely attempted to keep all of that from my writing. To separate myself, the inner me, from the pages of my books. I failed miserably. If I didn’t like them, then how on earth could I ever expect a reader to like them? So I started with a fresh idea, fresh characters and I combined both the joy and pain, the odd and unique and the metaphysical into both my stories and my characters. I immediately feel in love with writing and my characters. I still cannot read The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery without an occasional tear. In the original story, Carl was designated to die. I fell so in love with his character I couldn’t do it. He became real to me. A part of me. As did all the characters.

How do you know when you’ve found your niche? When you wake up each morning and you just can’t wait to see what your characters are going to do next. They aren’t just names on paper, but co-authors who inspire and amaze you. Their antics make you laugh, make you cry, make you cheer when good overcomes evil. And in my case, they continue my love of learning. Although I have studied and used Tarot cards I truly had no idea the fascinating history behind them until I wrote Sacred Secrets. Clover, one of my favorite characters with whom I felt a real affinity, introduced me not only to the basic uses of Tarot in everyday life, but also the fascinating history of the original deck. Ms. Charity introduced me to the history of Voodoo, and Billy Dawson allowed me to enter the world of the Dream Weaver, Shaman’s and white wolves. Jacody Ives has allowed me to see and feel the darkness of evil, and fight my way through to the light.

Part of all fiction is real. To appeal to your readers, your characters must come to life on your pages. Have real issues, real flaws and real life problems. And good doesn’t always overcome evil. Not every story has a happy ending. Sacrifices have to be made. Look inside yourself, find your strengths, your weaknesses, and what it is that makes you unique. Combine that in both your stories and your characters and you’ve found your niche.

Happy writing and reading.

Linda S. Prather, Author
The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery
Sacred Secrets, A Jacody Ives Mystery

No comments:

Post a Comment