Stuck between two genres

by Rhea

Question: I am writing a book, which is basically a fantasy and a teenage romance. I have set up the story two centuries ago, but due to the main character being reborn, I have written the story from present. The problem is, in some parts of the story, the romance overshadows the story goal. I am confused how to balance these parts.

Answer: So you're not sure if you're writing a fantasy with some romantic elements or a romance with some fantasy elements?

I'm not sure there is a clear boundary between the two, and I'm not sure it matters.

If you're writing a fantasy, it's okay if the romance overshadows the main story in places. If the two romantic leads are your main character and impact character, then their relationship will be one of the main throughlines. The romantic lead will serve the important role of showing the man character another way of being/acting that may or may not be what's needed to achieve the story goal.

And if you're writing a romance... well what's a romance without an overall plot that serves as a vehicle to thrust the two lovers together?

I think you have to consider, as you are writing, what material interests you most and follow that instinct. If the romance intrigues you, develop it. If the overall story seems more interesting, develop that. By the time you finish a draft, you may have a clearer sense of what the book is really about and which throughlines matter most. And then, you can always cut what's extraneous.

(I don't mean you should ever remove the romance or the main plot entirely. Both will be there. But the amount of time and emphasis you place on each is determined by your sense of where the real story lies.)

These days many stories straddle more than one genre. Twilight, for example, is both a fantasy and a romance. (Okay, maybe the romance dominates, but it is also a fantasy.)

The point is: never sweat over niche genres. Every truly original book creates its own niche genre or subgenre anyway. As long as you know generally the audience you are writing for, or perhaps the broad genre or genres you are taking as inspiration, that's enough. Your primary job is to devise a story that affects you powerfully and to express it in a way that does the same for others. How others pigeon-hole it afterwards is irrelevant.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.