Mission Focus

As I write this I am reading articles about an artistic director in the UK who has been let go after 6 months officially on the job. Her vision, and the vision of the board, are colliding. The board says that she isn’t being true to the mission of the theater.

Were this a theater blog, I would write more about that subject. But for this blog, it makes me think about different genres of writing. When I turned in my manuscript for Just Killing Time, my editor had me rewrite the beginning. “Too dark,” was the comment. She was right. It was a good beginning for a thriller, or for a traditional mystery. But for a cozy? Way too dark. (I saved it for another book.)

It is very important to think about that when you are trying to sell a book. Hybrids, or mash-ups of different genres, are much more accepted these days. But you need to know what the genres are, and what their rules are, before you move forward. Cozy is different than thriller is different than science fiction is different than romance. Each can have elements of many genres, but at its core it is one thing. That’s the mission of the book–to be that one thing.

Also, once you move on to selling the book, you need to be able to pitch it to an agent or to an editor. These folks are in the business of selling books. Books that transcend genre are tough to sell to publishers, and tough to market. Not impossible. But you do need to give folks a frame to work with when imagining your book on a shelf.

This isn’t only for genre fiction. Literary fiction needs a hook too–a mission for the work. And then the book needs to line up with the mission. Know the rules, then break them. But know them first. Stay mission focused.

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As Julianne Holmes, I write the Clock Shop Mystery series.

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