Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Sets You Apart

Good Morning My Lovelies. Over the weekend, Ariel had this post about what sets your novel apart from all the 900 billion in your genre that are out there. What is it? Can you define it? Is it a hook? A plot device? Your characters? The voice?

I've thought about it. I write (for the most part) single title Regency romance. This genre has its own rules -- word length, secondary characters w/ and w/out their own plot lines, a longer story with a little something else going on besides the romance. Mystery has their own rules, as well as sci-fi, YA, category romance, literary and women's fiction. Not to mention the regular "writing rules" that are drilled into our head. (Once you know them, you can break them. The problem is knowing them.)

Ariel got me thinking about what makes my stories different from what's out there. Well, first of all, I don't write sex. I write sexual tension. Second, there's always a little mystery involved that has nothing to do with the romance. Something's going to happen, but we don't know what, usually not until the last chapter (which is the way it's supposed to be). I also have returning characters, most notably Lady Olivia. My favorite character, by far.

Tell me -- What sets you apart from all the rest of your genre? Is it your plot? Your characters? Your world building? (Please don't divulge any secrets. Just let me know why you chose your area.)

35 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I end up writing the stories I like to read. Mystery, layered plots, secrets, either humorous or darker - I like them both!

Anne Gallagher said...

Laura -- Never thought about it like that. I guess I do too.

Ted Cross said...

What sets me apart is that I'm making all my technological advances up as I go, since I really haven't read any sci-fi set around the time frame in which I have my story set. I'm sure there are plenty of books that are set at the time, but I haven't found and read them yet. This worries me, since I imagine that many of the things I believe are my own creation will actually have been done before, and I just don't know it!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I would say the characters and the fact I don't write high-tech.

Jen Daiker said...

I would say my voice. I write books I enjoy reading or would have the desire to read and when the character speaks to me the voice is so prounounced I can't help but dive into their heads rather than my own. It also helps that my ideas are very original. Unique will not always win an agent over but I do know that there will be at least one that enjoys it... It worked for JK Rowling.

Anne Gallagher said...

Ted -- But what if they aren't? Then you'll be the "new kid on the block"! And don't worry, they say there are only 12 original stories in the universe, it's how we write them that makes them different.

Alex -- Yeah, I love your characters. Although I'm not sure about the high tech. I still don't know the difference between a Cosbolt and a Darten.

Christine Danek said...

Voice. I've been told my characters have good ones and makes my stories unique. Tension is another one of my favorites to write.
I write YA that usually contains paranormal or scifi elements. Yes, romance is always involved. I'm such a sucker for it.

Anne Gallagher said...

Jen -- Yeah, voice is important. And the more original the better, so you've gotten it going on. Any word back on the full yet?

Anne Gallagher said...

Christine -- Tension, love the tension. It's what always pulls me in. And romance of course. What's a good book without romance.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I write YA, but I don't write your typical paranormal or contemp. I take the danger from paranormal and the normal world from contemp, throw in the hot guys and make out scenes from both, and voila, my books. :D

Anne Gallagher said...

Stina -- Sounds like you have a secret recipe for success!

Creepy Query Girl said...

I'd say my premises are usually pretty original and there's always romantic undertones no matter the genre.

Lydia K said...

Ooh, good question. With mine, I'd say that once you enter my world, you'll be like, "Wow, cool, I want to stay here awhile and figure out what the heck is going on!"

Linda G. said...

Good question! I write urban fantasy. The majority of urban fantasy is on the dark side, but mine is light, meant to give a laugh. I think the humorous voice is what might draw in readers. At least, I hope so. :)

Bossy Betty said...

I think it's called weirdness......

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I thought my novel was women's fiction, but a number of men have claimed to enjoy it as well, so who knows? I think what sets it apart, though, is the infusion of humor when it's least expected. That, and some weird twists.

Anne Gallagher said...

Katie -- Romantic undertones are always good. Original premises are lucky to be found.

Lydia -- Well after you described your genre, I think I definitely want to check it out.

Linda -- Well, after reading your blog for awhile, I can see the humor.

Betty -- You're not weird. Wired maybe, but not weird.

Susan -- Oh, combination fiction, love that. Humor, I really have to get me some of that.

notesfromnadir said...

Anne,
From what I've read, you're a natural story teller. To me, that's what sets any writer apart.

Francine Howarth said...

Hi,

Hee hee, obviously I don't stand out in my latest chosen genre "romance" because I haven't had a publisher call to say "We love it we want it!" Then again, I've only subbed two and yet to hear back.

It happened (before) with erotic novels and romantic thrillers, and I would so love to break through with a romance. But, there's always Amazon and Kindle and better profit margins!!

BTW: check out http://fridaynightwriters.blogspot.com

best
F

Stacy McKitrick said...

I have no idea what sets me apart, or if I am set apart. I wrote what I like to read.

Maybe once I get my current WIP out there, I'll find out if it's "unique" enough. I expect I'll find out sometime this summer!

Yat-Yee said...

This is a good question, one that I have pondered many times. I can think of several obvious things: the setting (in a country and culture not often depicted) and the details I provide as an insider. But I'd like to think that my particular take on friendships and humor and human longing for acceptance, I guess those things that make up the elusive "voice", are what truly set my book apart.

Anne Gallagher said...

Lisa -- Aww, thank you so much. That's very sweet. And I can't wait until tomorrow for your next installment.

Francine -- Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. One day we'll all be there with the big fishes. And better profit margins are sounding really good right about now.

Stacy -- That's all that really counts I think. Write what you love to read.

Yat-Yee -- Thanks for stopping by. I love settings and inside info that I don't know. (Peter Mayle and his view of Provence comes to mind.) Coupled with 'voice' and it's sure to be a winner. Congratulations again on being short-listed. I saw the mention of it (the award) on the news last night. Very Very Cool. I'm pulling for you!

Yat-Yee said...

Anne: it was mentioned on the news? Wow! I am trying to find the list. Can you point me to it? Thanks.

Steena Holmes said...

Personally I think it's the chocolate I add in the story ;)

Domey Malasarn said...

Anne, it has always stuck with me that you don't include sex in your romance. For me, that really makes you stand out. I have a harder time finding something for myself. My main focus is on a sort of ambiguous concept of unfiltered emotion. Scott GF Bailey once said of my writing that is was very human. I took that as a high compliment.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Good post! I tend to smash weird things together. Like butterflies and spies or Cinderella hating her new life because it's controlled by magic. Those are the outside things that set my work apart. When people read my work, they've said they like the subtle layers and tones. :)

Roxy said...

You've stumped me with this question, Anne. I'm not sure what sets me apart from others, but I do know that I write what I'd like to read. :)

Austin James said...

This is the big challenge... setting yourself apart... and getting noticed. Hmm...

Jennifer Hillier said...

I love that you write sexual tension! That's so hard to do, in my opinion!

What sets me apart? I think it's my characters. They're flawed, especially the heroes, which I realize can be a turn off for some readers, but it's honestly how I see them.

Really good question, btw. Made me think.

Anne Gallagher said...

Steena -- Anything with chocolate is always a good thing!!!

Domey -- I've always loved the way you write the ambiguous emotions. Things we don't necessarily see or feel, but they're there, simmering under the surface.

Michelle -- I always thought the pairings in Monarch were quite bizarre, but they work and work well. Who's to say, butterflies and spies CAN'T work.

Roxy -- As long as you like it, it doesn't matter what sets you apart. And maybe that's the whole point.

Austin -- Hmmmm...

Jennifer -- Flawed heroes are AWESOME. Nobody likes a perfect hero. Even Superman was dazzled by Kryptonite.

Deniz Bevan said...

Love the idea of a mystery and returning characters.
Hmm... my historical romance is different because... well, for one thing, I haven't come across any yet that feature a Spanish girl and an Ottoman man falling in love. In 1492-3.
If there are don't tell me! Not until I've finished all my edits and I'm ready to query. Please!

Talli Roland said...

Hm...

I do like the think my plots are about more than shopping and cupcakes (much as I enjoy both!).

Liza said...

I'll let you know, if I ever get done...

Anne Gallagher said...

Deniz -- Rest assured, I have never heard of such a book. And with your excerpts, I'm sure it will be a winner.

Talli -- Much more than shopping and cupcakes.

Liza -- Just keep swimming, you'll get there.

Deniz Bevan said...

Thank you Anne!