My present project, Norman in the Painting, needs a specific genre. I called it a suspense with paranormal elements but someone said that category didn’t fit. A suspense novel involves imminent danger, high stakes, and threats. Usually the readers and characters know the perpetrator, but the problem is to avoid the impending doom. Waves of frightening peril increase in intensity and lead to the crushing climax, and then at the end all is resolved.
Multiple threats and murders happen in Norman in the Painting, but the focus is not the arc described above.
Mystery seems like a generic description since mysterious elements are in many books in other genres as well. Specific mystery novels have a puzzle to solve, The protagonist has to find out whodunit in a crime that readers do not see happening. Clues are sprinkled throughout the story and the main character’s clever investigative skills unravel the complicated case.
Norman nor Jill have to track clues to know who did what. They have a problem surrounding their relationship that is not under their control. They have to figure out what to do about it.
A romance novel has a hero and heroine who meet, have conflict at first, develop into a romantic relationship, and then live happily every after. Norman in the Painting ends with a slim possibility of Jill and Norman being happy ever after because of the dangerous situation they agree to embrace. It’s less than a 50/50 chance they will be able to remain together. The required expectation that they will, eliminates my novel from the traditional romance genre.
After exploring all the possibilities, I’m back to my original category: a paranormal romance, which gives the novel a freer ending.
What genre is your novel?
Research isn’t only for writers of historical fiction or non-fiction. All writing can benefit from research. Non-fiction writers usually rely on finding facts, but if one thinks that fiction stories don’t need research since the story is made up, misses an opportunity to enhance the story. Doing the research earlier than later in the writing process is recommended to prevent rewriting sections that might prove to be inaccurate.
The writer who embeds researched details leads the story into deepened characterization, setting, and plot points. The authenticity hooks the reader and expands the reader’s experience. The internet makes research quick and easy, but additional methods create more true-to-life feelings. When possible travel to the sites where the story takes place. Interview people who know more about the subject and locations than you do. Talk to a librarian who can help you find additional interesting information.
Elaine Schmitz, author of Recipes & Recollections of My Greek-American Family, is writing a novel that takes place in San Francisco. Last weekend she and her friend, Lani Longshore, author of When Chenille is Not Enough, had an entertaining day looking for sites where the protagonist, Sarah, goes in San Francisco. This photo is Lani in Sarah’s favorite church, St. Francis of Assisi, in North Beach.
Sarah’s apartment: 2nd floor studio, over Tom’s Grocery, corner of Greenwich and Powell, North Beach.
Front Street: the model for InterCorp Headquarters, the company building where the protagonist, Sarah Korsky, works and where the murder takes place.
To find suspects: Sarah plies them with Happy Donuts: give me your name and contact info and grab one.
How do you research for your stories and novels?
Diastema could be a distinguishing feature in a character for a short story or novel. Diastema is the space between the upper front teeth.
Some celebrities have diastema, Madonna, Woody Harrelson, Jack Black, Elton John, Brigitte Bardot, Michael Strahan, Condoleezza Rice, LeAnn Rimes, Ron Howard, Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Rhea Perlman, Seal, Ernest Borgnine, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rob Reiner,
David Letterman, among others.
I’d like to use diastema for one of my characters. I’ll think about which one.
Do you have a Kindle?
Do you like it?
I have one and I order several free or $.99 special books on it. But I don’t use it unless I’m going on a trip and I don’t want to take several books with me. Every time, the battery needs charging, which shows me that I don’t use it enough. It’s not that I don’t like it. I prefer a real book.
I like to underline and mark special points and excellent writing while I’m reading. I can find my notations on the printed pages quickly. The Kindle has the feature to underline, but it takes more effort to go back and find the notes. With the Kindle, I like the ability to change the size of the font and to be able to order a book and have it immediately. However, I write on the computer for many hours. I prefer not to read on another screen. I want a nice change with a printed book, to feel the binding and the cover, to turn the pages like I have since I was in grade school. That’s the reason why the Kindle sits on my shelf.
Do you use yours more than I do?