By Keith N Fisher
I reached an impasse with my work in progress this week. You might remember I’ve been working on a suspense novel, and it became too hard. I’ve had trouble keeping the intensity up, so I put it aside for now and went back to The Only Key, a mystery I started about six years ago.
It was wonderful to revisit the characters and figure out how to fix the problems that I left. A few years ago, I entered this story in a first chapter contest and it didn’t do well. To be fair to the contest, they didn’t have a mystery category, they had a mystery/suspense category.
As you might’ve guessed, the judge who gave it the lowest score commented on the level of suspense. It wasn’t intense enough. I argued that is was a mystery, not to be confused with anything Stephen King would write.
Then again, there seems to be a prevalent appetite for intensity in the media these days.
The whole experience made me consider the fore-slash and how we often combine genres. My colleagues have written about the combination of genres lately, and I don’t mean to tear down what they wrote, but I’m writing a mystery, plain and simple. Will readers judge it poorly due to lack of suspense?
Normally I write women’s fiction. Basically defined, I write stories about women, for women to read. Each story might have romantic elements, but I don’t write romance. Yes, the contest, I mentioned, also has a romance/women’s fiction category.
My suspense project is women’s fiction with very little romance, and my mystery is not women’s fiction, but there are romantic elements. Does that mean I can’t enter them in the contest?
I suppose genre purists will always be a problem in contests like that, and I’m not really complaining. It’s just that, working on, The Only Key, reminded me of my contest experience so I wrote about it. Maybe next week I’ll write about social media and protecting your professional image. Then again, maybe not.
Good luck with your writing---see you next week.