|Image courtesy Maggie Cakes.com|
The main objection, she says is
my voice is too modern for historical fiction. Although I love my book which is about the Salem witch trials, I think I am going to chalk it up to a learning experience. I don't have the voice for historical fiction so don't waste my time writing them.
This kind of comment really gets under my skin. Who is it to say what the “right voice” is for historical fiction, or any other genre, for that matter? And shouldn’t any writer try to develop a unique voice?
How would anyone alive today know what voice is correct for historical fiction? Sorry, your complete DVD collection of Little House on the Prairie does not make you an expert.
About a year ago, I submitted a still-unfinished portion of my book, The Bones of the Earth, to a little competition on Brenda Blake’s YA blog. One reviewer wrote “it doesn’t feel like YA to me.”
That’s the point. I don’t want my writing to read like another author’s style. I want to give readers something new.
Genre fan, tear down this wall!
|Image courtesy John Rozum.com|
And you can see the same sort of thing in online stores, as well. Even among “mainstream” or “contemporary” fiction, you HAVE to have noticed the trends and the copycats: sexy vampires, self-actualized teen girls who love shopping, their self-actualized older sisters who are building the perfect personality-free boyfriend, self-actualized divorcées shagging their way around the world.
Following the genre conventions leads to a homogeneous sameness within genres. To some extent, it’s understandable. These books sell, so writers who want to sell books (I’ve heard there are some) write books that follow those conventions, that stay well within those boundaries. Then there are critics and self-described experts who ruthlessly carp about anyone crossing the boundaries or even bending the rules.
As a result, the genre gets narrower and narrower, fracturing into sub-genres and piling the shelves higher and higher with the same old.
To me, some of the most interesting writing is a book that crosses genre boundaries. Steampunk was a good example when it started, but it’s getting straightjacketed with conventions and tropes: airships, cantilevered mechanisms, icy blondes, oak-panelled, smoky clubs.
One of the many goals I had for my novel was to break some rules. Why not set the story in a place that readers probably haven’t read about before? Why not have a hero with a disability? Why not put sex into a story for young adults?
How do you feel about rules, conventions and limitations in your reading? What would you like to see in the next book you read?