Thursday, May 22, 2008

...checking out the category lines

Ever since my "eureka!" moment, where I realized I do the Harlequin thing on a smaller scale, I've been checking out the eharlequin site. They have podcasts, and in some ways they're better than the RWA lectures because the harlequin podcasts are current and highly focused. I guess without the distraction of hundreds of staring faces, the editors find it easier to talk.

If any one's been following the discussion over on Scott Eagen's agent blog--not to push anyone into category, but it's a very interesting discussion--he's been talking about deep layering and how it works in the shorter category lengths.

One thing I found fascinating was the strong emphasis the rs editors put on "a very basic plot". My plots have always been huge and multi-stranded. All threads point to the end, but there are a lot of threads. The idea of a "basic plot", one strand. One driver? Was like a, "huh?"

Glenna McReynolds AKA Tara Janzen is one of my favorite authors. I've admired her for years. In her Outlaw Carson loveswept, she takes Carson from the States to Nepal like Indiana Jones on steroids, and I didn't feel cheated once. After a brief stint to prove she could do fantasy romance, she sort of disappeared. I wasn't a fan. Her fantasies were long and involved, and once I put something down a few times, it stays down.

Then she burst back on the scene as Tara Janzen. The funny thing was I'd started reading Janzen before I discovered it was a pseudonym. I love her Steele Street books. They're fast, streamlined reads. They might be single title, but the feel is pure category. Every time I pick one up I know, a) it's going to make me hold on to the seat, but it's not going to tax my brain or make me think too hard, and b) it's fun--like The Mummy or Romancing the Stone. The old term for it was "high adventure".

I think that single, basic plot is the common denominator. And looking at it from a screen-writing perspective, it's the whole Die Hard thing.

The movie is pretty simple. Holly is trapped and will die if Mclane doesn't rescue her. But it's got so many layers it's become the gold standard. Every layer adds to, and fleshes out, that one simple driver. Which makes Die Hard a...category romance?


Unhinged said...

Goooood one, lol.

(I wish I could write fast, streamlined stories. They're probably written pretty quickly, too, if they're the shorter stories, eh?)

But what's the difference between sub-genres and categories? Or, are they the same thing, just with different names?

...she takes Carson from the States to Nepal like Indiana Jones on steroids...

Love that!

Alice Audrey said...

I don't see Die Hard as category at all. Category doesn't have the market cornered on streamlined plots or close adherence to archetypes. They are more of a subset.

jodi said...

like Alice says, they're a sub genre of romance all to itself. And within that subgenre, there are sub-sub genres. Like if you had a paranormal. Some paranormals are vampires, and some are werewolves, but they're both paranormal. So a silhouette rs is a sub genre of the sub genre of "category" like a Blaze or a Mills and Boon Tender.

(you'd love the book it's very cool) You need to check out the podcast, because they talk about wanting Le Femme Nikita books. :)

(lol, Alice. I love the fantastic-cliffhanger subgenre Die Hard belongs to. Did you know the Mummy Three is coming out this summer? I am so there. :)

Deanna said...

Don't know if you're interested, and it's fine if you're not, but I tagged you for a game of "choose that life-story title." :o)

Unhinged said...

(you'd love the book it's very cool) You need to check out the podcast, because they talk about wanting Le Femme Nikita books. :)


They do?

They DO?




Alice Audrey said...

Mummy 3? I am so totally there!