Search This Blog

What are the challenges you face as a writer in your genre? By Perry Martin

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The first challenge I had to face was to figure out what genre my first novel, "Pretty Flamingo" fit into.  It's essentially a Romance-Drama but it does have a strong element of mystery about it - - and even a touch of the paranormal.  I tried calling it a Mystery/Love Story but, apparently there's no such category so.......... it's a Romance-Drama!

   With that settled I was then challenged to make sure the reader really identified with the characters - - particularly the two leads.   It was important that my intended audience were really pulling for them in the romance scenes as well as the dramatic sequences.  I learned along the way, and in several subsequent rewrites, that you can't just say, "Robert was a very likeable guy." and expect the reader to automatically like Robert.  You have to make Robert a likeable guy, by the things he says and does;  by making the reader privy to his inner dialogue and by sharing his hopes and dreams.  All the really well-written and successful books in my genre had that in common - - characters you liked (or hated, depending on the part they play) and identified with.

   My next challenge was how to handle the romance aspect of it, particularly since that part of the story is told in flashback and concerns two teenagers.  I had to remember what it was like to be a teenager in love.  We think differently at that age and, consequently, I had to resist the impulse to write too "cleverly" and use words that a teenager wouldn't use.  Because of that, there is subtle difference in writing style between the chapters set in 2004 and those set in 1969.  Also, there was a temptation to get carried away with the love scenes.  I was fortunate to have a female business partner I could send my chapter drafts to and she always let me know if I was overdoing it with the "smoochy-smoochy" stuff.  Thanks to her I deleted two chapters that were over-the-top and basically redundant as they were just a rehash of earlier love scenes, just set in a different locale.

   Then, I had to make sure I stretched out the various conflicts - - both romantic and dramatic - - in a way that kept the reader turning the pages before finally "letting them off the hook" so to speak, and allowing each aspect of the story to reach a satisfying conclusion.  Part of the challenge was in making sure the flashback chapters, and subsequent returns to the present, were handled smoothly.  According to reader reviews I've seen, I achieved that - - I'm glad to say.

   The ultimate challenge, though, was to try and make the story as unique as I could, while still appealing to readers who enjoy Romance-Dramas.  I think that would be the challenge for most Romance writers - - finding a storyline that hasn't been done before.  Or, if it has, then adding an interesting twist to it.  As an example, look at almost all the successful romantic comedy movies there have been over the years.  For the most part they followed this simple formula: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finally gets girl.  That's it.  But the challenge is how take that formula and weave some unexpected twist and turns into it, giving it enough uniqueness to stand out from the competition.

About the author - In his long and varied career as a musician, songwriter and producer Perry has worked with such people as Lefty Frizzell, Hank Snow Jr. and Sheb Wooley. Over the years as a solo performer or with a band he has also been the supporting act for such show biz luminaries as the Bee Gees, Ambrosia, Little River Band, B.J. Thomas, Hal Ketchum and Lonestar - - to name just a few.

More recently he completed his first novel, "Pretty Flamingo". Based on actual personal experiences the book is essentially a mystery/love story that takes some very unexpected twists and turns. 


  1. When you write in a genre, making it unique can indeed be a big challenge, because there are so many conventions, which the readers really want (and deserve). It's a fine line between stock and predictable, new and refreshing, and out of bounds. Props to you for taking on that challenge!