When I first started writing, I was a hardcore-manuscript-jumper. I worked on three or four projects at once, often writing a chapter of one, then moving onto another in the same evening. This was fine when I was writing just contemporary romance but moving back and forth between genres requires a little more…planning (a bad word to my formerly all-pantser self).
Though I originally thought of plotting as a necessary evil, when I took on more than one genre, it became, at least, in part, a necessity. Maybe I should officially declare myself a plot-ser but I’m reluctant to say I’m entirely one or the other just yet. Regardless of where you land on the plotter to pantser spectrum, there are a few ways to make writing multiple genres a little easier on our crowded brains.
1. Choose another genre that aligns nicely with your current one.
I moved first from contemporary romance to cozy mysteries. This was a fairly easy shift with one key side benefit—the relationship between the sleuth and her love interest didn’t have to be the source of conflict, which was nice for me as a writer. The tempo of the two are different but because I write ‘sweet’ romance and cozies are closed door to all graphic content. It wasn’t much of a stretch.
2. Read all the books.
For a while, when I started writing in two genres, I was careful not to read the genre I was writing. I didn’t want to accidentally mirror what I was reading in my writing or be influenced by the voice of who I was reading. This didn’t work. I’d read a romance, then dive into my cozy and I’d want to make the story all about the love interests. It’s important to read in the genre you’re writing in but also outside of it. I’ve now switched so that if I’m writing cozies, I read them. Not exclusively but I no longer avoid them while I’m working on one. This helps me with pacing, formula, and keeping my mind in that type of world.
3. Don’t be afraid to review the style.
When I’ve been out of one world for a while, I often refresh myself with some reminders of the style. I’ll Google how to write a romance or plotting a cozy. I’ve written several of each in those genres but I like going back to the basics and just refreshing my brain on how to get started. I’ll flip back through blog posts, articles, and even emails, just to get my head in the right space.
4. Make mistakes.
That’s what edits are for. Many times, I’ve written too much romance in my cozies or too much expository in my romances. You can pick up on these things during the editing process and also with the help of critique partners and beta readers.
5. Take notes.
I’m terrible at this and tell myself every single time that I’m going to get better. Be better than me: write down the small things, character traits, details, quirks, repeated hot spots in the worlds you’ve created. When you’re moving between two genres, it’s really easy to bring some of one world into another. I make little maps and write notes (unfortunately I never keep all of these things in one spot so I’m constantly sifting through journals and sticky notes to fine them) that remind me Morning Muffins is in Britton Bay and Bean’s Bakery is in Angel’s Lake. Make this part of your practice and you’ll have it to refer back to, making the transition back and forth so much easier on you.
6. Be consistent.
Your voice is your voice regardless of what genre you’re writing. There are things about your writing that are innately you. Don’t lose that; it’s what keeps your readers coming back for more.
7. Have chocolate.
It doesn’t matter what genre or how many you write: you cannot go wrong when you’re plying yourself with chocolate. Writing can be hard; treat yourself.
I’ve truly enjoyed writing in more than one genre and am actually adding a third—romantic comedy under the pen name Sophie Sullivan. Again, the genres share commonalities, which makes this and easier process on me. Though there are a fantastic amount of craft books out there, my favorite way to prepare is to read my favorite authors in that particular genre.