The Game of Switching Genres
On this the occasion of the launch of my first novel I pondered briefly on whether or not I’ll be giving up the other writing I do… not a chance! Mental Pause is my first novel but my first book was @Home in Dubai, a non-fiction, published traditionally by Summertime Publishing, and my second was a self-published e-book about doing your own PR, all of which I enjoyed writing equally.
Before becoming a freelance writer and author I was a PR practitioner for 17 years. I switched gears on a daily basis, sometimes several times in one day. I guess the actual ‘genre’ was business writing but the nuances for each communication were very different depending on the audience and how we were reaching them. The vehicle used to communicate the message would often dictate the length, style, tone and perspective. Knowing the differences was the first step in creating a piece of writing that suited the situation.
In 2007 I went freelance and began to have more control over my time. I explored other types of writing, even resurrecting some short stories I had written in college. I brushed them off, re-wrote them to update them just a bit, took a deep breath and posted on what was then, The Fiction Writer’s Platform. The first two stories I submitted received Editor’s Choice Awards, which made me think that perhaps I had the chops for fiction.
When I started out writing Mental Pause, I approached it the same way I would approach any writing assignment, other than knowing it was going to take a whole lot longer than writing a press release or some web copy.
Successful methods for writing across genres:
- Look for inspiration to spark an idea (for business writing or non-fiction, it usually comes from a client brief or an area of expertise, for my novel it came from a night sweat).
- Write a synopsis of the idea. Just get it all down… it’s what I call a mental dump.
- Determine the target market for any type of writing before you get too far into it because that will dictate some of your language use and the level of writing.
- Write an outline. For business writing it’s usually pretty sewn up before I write the bulk of the piece, for non-fiction it starts with a fairly complete chapter outline but for my novel it evolved as I wrote from a loose idea and a bunch of scenes from my initial mad ramblings of a peri-menopausal woman that I had dumped into a document. I know some authors need to start with a more prescribed outline but your personality will guide you here. The important thing is to just write.
- Do the background research, which is equally as important for both. For non-fiction, it lends credibility and for fiction, believability.
Some writers prefer to stick to a niche because once they have a formula it’s like a comfortable old shoe. It also makes it easier to market yourself. For me, I like variety and the marketing challenge keeps me on my toes.
That was great. Thank you, Anne.
Author, freelance writer and social media consultant, Anne O’Connell, has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in late 2007 and then on to Thailand in 2011. Anne has been working as a freelance copywriter, writing coach and consultant since 2007, specializing in social media, marketing, corporate communications and public relations. She is a regular contributor to Global Living Magazine and Expat Focus. In between clients she squeezes in time for her newly found passion – writing fiction. She and her husband have a passion for travel as well and that adventurous spirit has taken them all over the world.
As a professional communicator and grass roots community advocate she strongly believes in giving back and has always looked for ways to volunteer her services as part of her daily life. She is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International and was a founding member and chair from 2008-2011 for the UAE chapter of Room to Read.
She is the author of @Home in Dubai… Getting Connected Online and on the Ground; 10 Steps to a Successful PR Campaign – a Do-it-Yourself Guide for Authors; and Mental Pause, her first novel that launched March 8th 2013, International Women’s Day. Part of the proceeds of book sales on launch day will benefit Room to Read, a charity that supports literacy programs in developing countries by building libraries, publishing local language children’s books and providing scholarships for girls.
Anne grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has a bachelor of public relations from Mount St. Vincent University. For more information visit her website at www.anne-oconnell.com, join her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/annethewriter and on Twitter @annethewriter.
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