Do We Need A Cross-over Genre?
It happens in music. Can that happen with books?
This question and answer session was brought on by Angela Drakes challenge to Oghmaniacs to list things about our work in progress and Kristen Lamb’s article on deep POV. By the say, if you’re not reading Kristen Lamb you should be.
A disclaimer—right up front. There is no doubt this subject is western-centric, but you can apply it to your favorite genre.
Writing westerns is preaching to the choir—and it’s a small choir.
The biggest selling genres according to Amazon are romance, paranormal, thriller and mystery. I would add fantasy and erotica in there. Westerns are way down the list.
What makes a western and why doesn’t the mainstream reader like it? Is it portrayed in a time so far past people can’t relate? What about Longmire and Justified? Modern day westerns. Why don’t readers pick up that western novel at the store or from their favorite online bookseller? Don’t like horses? Just doesn’t grab them? Book cover? Marketing?
In real life folks with strong moral character, those who take charge and fix things with no outside help, no quarter asked nor given attitudes—get ridiculed by a large segment of the population. But, their favorite fantasy—what they read—is the opposite. It’s a conundrum. Do they want their hero to be something they cannot conceive of being? Is that what we provide?
What type western genre pull more people in? Western romance? Western mystery? Western Erotica? If we combine those, will it confuse folks? Are readers so set in their ways it’s hard to get them to change? If readers are voyeurs looking into a world, how do we get them to change their chosen destination?
Folks who claim to read a wide array of genre’s never list the western. It cannot be because of content because they’ve never read one. How do we get them to try it and bring them into the fold?
If the second largest selling genre is adventure, why not western adventure? How do we get readers to escape to our adventure? How do we get their attention? Can we?
A partial answer might be in the classic movie Tombstone. The movie was sort of factual. But the characters sold it. People loved the characters. They leaped off the screen and grabbed you by the throat. The classic lines are still quoted today. And may be quoted forever. Say when. Or, Why, Johnny Ringo. You look like someone just stepped on your grave.
I believe our characters have to be compelling as the portrayals of Wyatt and Doc.
I don’t have answers for all of the questions. I’m writing in a genre I love but am running out of time to make a dime at it—and yes, that’s important. I think it’s important to all of us.
As Casey, Gil, Gordon and yes—Kristen Lamb preach, we’re going deep.
In the short story prequel Coble Bray, I use first person to stay inside his head. In the novel Hallowed Ground, I used third person—the most popular method in the writing world. In Hallowed Ground II, I’m back to first person but may change. Probably will. Questions arise from this.
Can you get readers deep into all your character’s heads using first person? Folks have a different voice using first person. Same scene written in third person? Different feeling.
Louis L’Amour did it in a few of his novels. He mixed it up with first and third in the same book. The protagonist was in first person, everyone else in third. Sold millions. Alas, I’m no Louie.
Coble Bray is not a just a killer with a badge. He worries about that fine line that separates him from his quarry. The cost is huge. Anyone deep into his thoughts may want to run.
His new wife Maria is a woman with a past she regrets—she’s torn and vindictive. An ex-Pinkerton operative who’s impulsive and vengeful—and dangerous.
Coble’s saddle partner and scout Pete Santos is confused by his daughter Maria’s actions. He doesn’t know whether to leave or stay. He’s had Coble’s back before but things are different now. It’s more personal.
Priest has no chance of contrition—he’s a pastor who killed a man in anger, and can’t find sorrow in it. There’s no going back.
Oxford Graham is a killer with no remorse. He likes it. He’s having fun. It’s all a game. His murders are clean to the point of fetish. Tall, handsome, and slick as goose shit on wet limestone. A dandy in a Bowler hat. He’s a smooth ladies man romancing Coble’s wife. And he’s obsessed in showing everyone how smart he is.
Adventure. Mystery. Romance. Western. Crossover? Or, just a keyboard exercise?