Inkpop Blog

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Breaking the Genre Code: inktips from Kimberly Derting

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 13, 2011

Most authors will tell you it’s important to write in a genre and stick with it. That’s great, but not all books are that easy. Kimberly Derting’s Body Finder series offers readers a paranormal story with a bit of suspense. So what do you do when your genre is not so clear cut. Join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop Forum Events with Kimberly Derting who will answer this and other questions. Can’t wait until tonight? We have some  writing tips from Kimberly Derting to wet your appetite.

 

Trying to pin down the exact genre of THE BODY FINDER was no small feat.  It was a mystery/thriller with a paranormal spin.  And, on top of that, it was a romance as well. It was a paramystamance.  Yeah…not so much.  But writing THE BODY FINDER was a whole other story.  I never once thought about how I was going to fit it into a neat little box, mostly because the secrets to writing suspense are the same whether you’re writing a fast-paced action-thriller or a toe-curling romance. For whatever genre you write, it’s all about trying to keep your readers on the edge of their seats.

 

1)  Use the Red Herring approach.  Sounds like some sort of cold, dead fish, right?  Well, it’s not.  The red herring can be your best friend when you’re writing.  Don’t know what a red herring is?  Here, let me help.  Red Herring: something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue. Think about it, you have to give your readers clues along the way, hints as to how your story will wrap up, but you don’t want those clues to be too obvious or you might as well just tell them whodunit and get it over with!  One way to make those hints less conspicuous is to use the “red herring” trick.  Just when you’re dangling a particularly juicy bit of information onto the page, divert their attention by giving them something even shinier to look at…something more interesting to focus on.

2)  Cast aspersions and doubt onto your characters.  This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to fall into this trap.  Make sure your “bad guy” isn’t wearing a black hat and your “hero” isn’t always riding a white horse.  Don’t let anyone off the hook.  Give your readers reason to questions everyone.  In romance, a lot of writers create love triangles to build this sense of tension for the protagonist, forcing her (or him) to choose between two romantic opposites.  Making the readers ask who will they pick?  Is he/she the same one we would choose?

3)  Ratchet up the tension.  How many times have you been reading a scene and you’re perched on the edge of your seat practically screaming at the pages—at the character—not to go in the room where danger awaits?  You know what I mean.  We do it with books, TV, at the movies.  But it’s those moments before the protagonist is wandering into dangerous territory that really get your heart racing and make you want to jump out of your skin.  Take the movie JAWS, for example.  The girl is swimming along, minding her own business, and suddenly you hear it…the music.  You know the shark is coming, but she has no idea.  You hold your breath.  You squeeze the hand of the person next to you.  You want to tell her “Swim!  For the love of God, swim!!!”  But once you see the blood gurgling to the surface, and the girl has disappeared beneath the dark waters, you already know she’s toast and you can breathe again.  At least until you hear that familiar soundtrack once more.

Take your time constructing those “moments before”.  Set the scene by describing the atmosphere, what they’re smelling, hearing, and feeling around them.  Think about the emotions the character is going through…is their heart racing?  Is their breathing shallow?  Give the reader some time to really fret over that character’s well-being.

So how does that same principle apply to romance, you ask?  Simple.  What’s really the best part of the love story?  I love a good kiss as much as the next girl, but even better than the kissing scenes are those moments before the first kiss (or kisses).  The close calls and what-ifs and will-he-or-won’t-he moments that have you leaning closer to the page and holding your breath.

 

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