The Writer's Desk

Writing, publishing & marketing notes from Jamie DeBree & her alter egos

Musings on Voice & Genre

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past six months or so about the genres I write in, and my personal writing voice. Part of the reason I’m giving up romantic suspense, at least for a little while, is because when I look at my version of the genre, it’s…different than what I think people are expecting. Different than what most readers of the genre want, but not different enough to be distinctive and forge a new trend.

A writer’s “voice” is an all encompassing thing…not just how we write, but how we see and filter the world and then translate that onto the page. I’m very independent (often accused of being too much so), but I also love men, and get along with them better than I do with most women. So that comes across on the page, and I’m often harder on my female characters than males…which, I’m afraid, is exactly opposite what most women want to read about (not all – there are people of both genders who’ve enjoyed my books thus far, and I appreciate them more than I can say).

Until I started thinking about this in terms of voice, I really kind of felt like this made me a bad writer. My books never really caught on no matter how much marketing I did (which has been admittedly less than I should). One would think that keeping on writing, studying the craft and working to improve things like descriptions and plots would make me improve, but I wasn’t getting anywhere, and after a really long, frustrating year last year, I finally realized that there may not be much more I can do to become “good” in that genre without changing my overall voice.

I could do that, I suppose, but honestly, I don’t think it would come out right on the page. And writers with similar perspectives (it seems) to mine seem to be writing mostly romantic comedy. Though I can be funny at times, it’s a dry wit, and while I do occasionally give it to a character here and there, it’s often misunderstood and causes problems.

In any case, this year I’m focusing on three genres – young adult, speculative fiction, and horror. And I have to say, while the young adult is a bit of a stretch (to put it mildly), the other two are more like putting on a comfy pair of shoes. I use a different writing style for each and the cadence between spec fic and horror occasionally bleed into each other (no pun intended), but the young adult is teaching me a lot about range and alternate cadence and character arcs and growth.

Basically, even though it was hard to make the decision, I’m glad I left romance behind. I’ll keep reading it, of course, but I think I’m finally on the right track to really use my natural voice – which will hopefully¬†resonate¬†with readers as well.

I’ve had a rough start to writing this year, but I’m slowly working my way back into it. Next week, I’ll have an excerpt or two to share.

Until then…

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