Facts of Life,  Mechanics,  Writing Journey

It’s Elemental

Let’s talk some shop, eh?

A couple of times in the last year, I’ve found myself in the situation where I’m working on something and realize I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing (in the un-fun sense).

Now before I ramble on, I am a big fan of branching outside your element once and a while to try new things and dip your toes in a different stream, so to speak. And I think it’s totally okay to write in a genre you don’t read much in. Though I can’t say the same for a genre you don’t like, but that’s a different ramble. Being in your element doesn’t mean you only write one kind of story — it only needs to be something that you would read and love yourself. For example, I love horror. I don’t necessarily want to read much of it. After all, if I write it, I trust that I won’t give myself nightmares. HP Lovecraft might.

Everything in your realm though, is not in your element.

For instance, there is a difference between high concept, portal, contemporary, urban, and historical fantasy. I’m not good at all of them. Nor should I be. It’s why we have all these different writers with different strengths and interests. Sometimes you want to try something new though. Like if you’re supernaturally bent like me, you might be more comfortable trying a horror story with a paranormal theme first, before you try a full on supernatural-free horror.

I have an idea baking right now that’s a contemporary fantasy with historical bits. Sometimes love for a genre doesn’t necessarily translate to your writing. If I went full out historical, even historical fantasy, it would be a disaster. And I know this. So I start with historical scenes and chapters and sandwich them between things I’m good at to build my skills up.

Now, you may be wondering what this has to with anything. Chains of Destiny is a high fantasy, and it is giving me fits. The biggest problem I’ve been having is that I just plum don’t know where I am. I have nothing to ground me. Maybe this sounds strange because I make up towns all the time and often have to draw a map to orient myself. However, I always know where I am–some past, present, or future version of this world. Being that I’ve never written a high fantasy before this (and don’t read a whole lot of it either), I seem to have bitten off more than I can handle. (Wouldn’t be the first time. Ha!)

I do have a portal fantasy on my list that I’m still working the kinks out of. I’m wondering if doing that one first will help me figure out how to make this high concept work. Of course, I’ve never done a portal fantasy either (though I’ve read a ton), but at least that will let me anchor myself in something I’m familiar with, and then maybe I can create the new world from there. I tried to make Chains of Destiny a portal fantasy, a couple of times actually, and yeah, so not happening. So…yeah, I don’t know. Dudes, seriously, I need to stop doing things I’ve never done before. Unfortunately, of the stories I have ready to draft, not a single one of them is something I’ve done before. brain melts

Oy, vey. sigh The joys of being a writer. Lol!

No matter though, whatever I end up doing, the best and worst thing about trying something new is that is always floods me with ideas. Really, if you want a story idea, I will throw a handful at you. I don’t know why this keeps happening. Not that I’m complaining too much. ^_^ Hmm, I would so love to multitask some stories right now. *fingers crossed that I can find a way to swing it* And find a way to finish something. It’s only been since August, but I feel like it’s been forever.

On a random note: If you haven’t seen The Incredible Burt Wonderstone…it’s awesome. thumbs up


  • Ifeoma Dennis

    I don’t write outside my comfortable “element”. That said, I love high fantasy and made-up towns a lot, just the way I love contemporary stories that makes me think/swoon/cry. BUT I can’t write contemporary (or paranormal, for that matter). Not right now, maybe when I’m much, much older.

    It’s important for me to make that distinction between what I love to read (which is pretty much everything) and what I love to write (which is only fantasy) because I like finishing anything I start.

    Being the chicken heart I am, I admire your bravery in treading where you’re not sure. Here’s to hoping the muses see you through!

    • krystal jane

      I have an embarrassingly large amount of unfinished stories. Just the ones I’ve kept track of take up an entire shelf by themselves.*hides*

      For the longest time I only wrote vampire stories. I guess it’s technically paranormally bent contemporary fantasy, but that’s where my comfort zone is. I guess that’s why I’m trying all these different things, to see what else I’m good at. I feel like I was stuck in a rut for a while.

  • Michelle A (@SunflowerRei)

    Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder how I ended up writing a historical. I mean, I LOVE reading them, but for the longest time, I couldn’t get past the research aspect of it. Ugh. Then I started writing it and I couldn’t see how I could write a contemporary New Adult story, even though I wrote a lot of those before I decided to write what I wanted to (historical fiction).

    All of that to say I don’t know if I’m necessarily all that comfortable writing historical fiction, but I’mma try!

    • krystal jane

      You gotta try!! ^_^
      I’m definitely not comfortable writing high fantasy. My brain keeps rebelling on me. I’ll probably have to work on it in small sections.

      Dude! Research! Just the thought…it’s actually kind of fun once I start, but I would have to do a lot more research to write historical fiction though. Just the bit I did for that one idea took me hours, and I don’t think my MC even leaves the house! It’s like 5 chapters, maybe 7. I thought maybe reading all those historicals and watching The Tudors would give me a short cut. *shakes head*

  • Thea Landen

    (I still don’t know why it’s taking two days for your posts to show up in my feed. 🙁 )

    I have no idea how I wound up writing so much action/adventure with my romance. It’s definitely not my favorite genre, yet it keeps popping up. I blame video games.

    On the flip side, I looooooove mysteries. I’m a big Agatha Christie fangirl. That said, I can’t ever see myself writing one (I joke that I’m not smart enough to do so). Genres are weird, man!

    • krystal jane

      Ah, that’s weird. Glad it’s showing up at some point though.

      That’s so true though. Genres are crazy! I swear I woke up one day and it just hit me what kind of stories I write. I’ve been sorely tempted to try my hand at a murder mystery. The first time I read one, I was in awe at the author’s skills of foreshadowing and patience. I remember thinking, “There’s no way I could have kept that a secret for so long!”

  • rhchatlien

    I’m another one who doesn’t experiment a lot with genre. Maybe I’m too set in my ways; I don’t know. But I know what works for me, and I stick with it. I admire how game you are to try new things.

    • krystal jane

      I do like experimenting. ^_^ Though, I don’t think I can write a story without some kind of supernatural element. I either finish them and don’t edit them, or I just don’t finish them. So whatever I do, I try to make sure it’s still in some kind of fantastical arena.

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