The Importance of Trying Something Different

I learned something new yesterday. Remember the old TV show All in the Family, which ran from 1971 to 1979? I was too young when it aired to watch it, but I remember hearing it on TV when I was a kid. What really stuck with me was the beginning of every episode, where Archie and Edith Bunker sang the theme song “Those Were the Days”. For whatever reason, that song played in my head yesterday. If you haven’t heard it, you might not want to. It’s really annoying. But, here it was, playing over and over in my head until I finally tried to sing it.

I’ll admit I can sometimes mimic sounds and voices, so I was curious to see if I could imitate Edith’s voice when she sang that song. Yep. I can. And pretty well, too. No, you won’t hear me sing it. That’s my little treasure. But I learned that even though I never imagined I could sing like Edith Bunker, and even though I never aspired to do so, I was successful at recreating her voice.

What does all this mean to you? Well, this situation reminded me of an author friend of mine. When she first started writing, she wrote YA and dabbled in adult contemporary romance. In fact, one of those contemporary romances hooked her agent, except the agent felt there was more to this author than even she knew. So, the agent pushed her. She had her try to write outside of her comfort genres. To the author’s surprise, she was actually better at writing in this new genre than the others. They sold that book and many others in her new genre, and she’s now a bestselling author. This may or may not have happened had she not experimented with a different genre.

As a freelance editor, I sometimes come across a manuscript that’s technically well written, but it still feels flat. It’s lacking voice or the right voice for that type of story. That’s why it’s important to know your genre. If your voice is a better fit for YA or NA, maybe you should try to write in that genre instead of adult thriller. It’s much easier to change genres than it is to train your voice to fit the genre in which you want to write. And this other genre might feel more natural. How will you know unless you try?

Update: I’m now booking substantive/developmental editing slots for January 2015. I have a January 5 slot and a January 26 (filled) slot open. Contact me at labelle@labelleseditorialservices dot com for more information.

Lynnette Labelle

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