>First of all, let me say that some people don’t question what they should write or where their voice fits. It comes naturally and they just write. Second, I officially hate those people. Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word. :-) Do I harbor a bit of good-natured resentment or envy? Definitely. Even more so those people who seem to be able to write in 3-4 subgenres and do it well.
For those of us regular folks, finding what subgenre you’re most comfortable writing in can be a long, slippery trail to mass confusion, a lovely lightbulb moment, or a slow dawning.
For me, it was the slow dawning, a feeling that I’d slipped on a shoe I could walk in for some time. Here’s how it happened for me.
When I started writing 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to write series romance, but wasn’t sure what line. Sexy, sweet, hot, family & community, medical, and inspirational lines; there are a ton to choose from. I started with what I most loved to read: Desire, Blaze, HAR and SSE. I added Superromance and after reading a few (dozens) I settled on either Desire or SSE.
At that point, I wish I could say I simply picked one and wrote, but that would be far from the truth. I did start writing and the story was a marriage of convenience (or MOC as we call it in the romance genre). The very first scene I wrote was a love scene, just to see if I could. It turned out fairly decent, so Desires weren’t ruled out entirely.
Mind you, I hadn’t done any research on the lines other than reading them for years. That’s quite valuable, but it’s not enough. My first query and quick form rejection showed me that. I began to read even more and started a spreadsheet on Special Edition, recording the things I felt would show me changes in the line, trends, etc. Still not enough. I searched the online loops and eHarlequin forums for any tidbits about line/house preferences for editors, formatting, submissions, and more. Editor Q&A’s I glommed onto, reading and re-reading.
Even while all that was going on, I still entertained the notion I’d like to write for Desire. After finishing two SSE manuscripts, I began work on a Desire. It did fairly well in contests and even got a partial request, but the line requirements changed and it no longer fit. I liked writing a little hotter, though and tried my hand at a little erotic romance and short stories with modest successes.
The more research I did and the more I wrote, I realized that most of my heroes weren’t uber alpha and my stories always managed to include family, close friends and children, even the short stories. More reading, and I kept up with the current books in the SSE line. Then I pitched to Susan Litman at Nat’l and felt as much of a connection as you can feel when you’re nerves are frazzled and you have 10 minutes to stir interest in your work. She requested a full.
I revised the manuscript heavily before sending it and the line began to feel like an old friend. For the first time I felt like I’d hit upon something I could write for years (and hope I get the chance to).
Now that doesn’t mean that I’ve put aside ambitions to write for Desire or even EroRom or short stories. I still love them, but my current focus is on getting published through SSE. If the current manuscript being considered by the SSE editors isn’t accepted, I’ll keep trying. Once I’ve accomplished that goal and can write 2-3 a year, I can focus on adding another line.
How about you? Are you one of those people I envy? Are you still struggling, or have you had that lightbulb moment?
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