Writing Myself into a Corner
Agatha Christie. Her name is synonymous with the mystery novel. Mention Louis L’Amour and westerns spring to mind. If I name a specific author—unless you are true devotee of that author—you will probably associate that person with a specific genre.
But did you know that Agatha Christie wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott? Louis L’Amour also wrote boxing stories, action adventure stories set in the South Pacific, and historical fiction that had nothing to do with the wild west. Whether they intended it or not, these and other writers found themselves pigeonholed into a niche. They have written themselves into a corner.
Perhaps it is time to start looking at the corners that are available. The thing to remember about corners is that (in this allegory) they are the point where two walls meet. By way of example, let’s choose the historical fiction corner. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is the research. Like I said in an earlier post, if I am going to claim some part of my story is true then I will have the facts to back it up. Research is a big part of writing historical fiction; it covers the “historical” side of the story. That leaves the “fiction” aspect. This is where the walls come in.
Let’s say that the wall on the left is mystery. History is filled with mysteries that are just waiting for someone to “solve.” Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart? With a bit of research, I’m sure we could come up with possible clues as to why she disappeared. Does this mean we have solved the mystery? Of course not. We are only exploring the mystery.
It’s time we looked at the wall on the right. The possibilities are endless. For this example, we are going to say this wall is science fiction. Suppose aliens were behind her disappearance. Perhaps she and her co-pilot were flying along when a portal opened in front of them and sent them into the distant past or the far-flung future. Or maybe even the present. The possibilities are endless.
Another cool things about walls is that if you don’t like them, you can repaint them. Don’t like the science fiction wall, change it to romance…or action adventure…or horror. The choice is yours.
If you have a corner in mind, make it the best corner ever and decorate it however you want.
Just thought I would jot this down.