Sunday, October 22, 2017

Experiment with Something That Scares You

October is the perfect month to prepare yourself for NaNoWriMo (if you partake) or just another month of writing for those who don’t, so why not… scare yourself?

I don’t mean by saying Bloody Mary three times in front of a mirror – although if you do that, would you let me know if it works? - but by tackling something totally out of the ordinary for you, within your writing.

For us YA writers and readers, we tend to stick within our own preferred age-range (I know it’s a bad habit of mine anyway) so occasionally I’ll make myself read books aimed at younger or older markets than YA. It’s amazing what branching out with your reading and writing can do for your writing skills. This October, try your hand at a paragraph or too of writing for a different age-range. 

Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you’ll be able to identify what it is that makes YA, YA, and why you love writing it so much, and either stick to it, or invert it some way that puts a new spin on your writing.

Then we have genre – personally, I love anything fantasy, sci-fi or thriller, which means those are naturally the books I’m drawn to at the book shops/libraries, as well as the ones I’ll pick up first from my bookshelf. But this October, I plan to shock myself and pick up some literary fiction or cosy mysteries. Maybe I’ll even dabble in some horror on October 31st.

Because we all remember that amazing scene from “Bring it On” when the cheerleaders combine a range of dance styles to create a kick-ass dance routine (…. oh… only me then?) and I like to think experimenting with genres is a sort of the writing equivalent to creating that dance routine. As we read and write, we come to learn the expected tropes of a certain genre, which means we can use them, or invert them within the genre we prefer. You’re more likely to create that gobsmacking-ly original, cross-genre, industry-redefining novel if you’re well read in every genre there is out there, so get cracking!

Experimenting with tenses, POV, age-range, story-length, and genre means that you might discover a new style of writing that you absolutely love, but even if you don’t, you can combine all your new knowledge to make that sizzling dance routine. What makes that horror so scary? That thriller suspenseful? Romance swoon-worthy?

You’ll have fun finding out, discover new authors and genres that you love, and your writing will develop as a result. So, get out of your comfort zone and into that Halloween outfit! (and then do some reading and crazy writing.)

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