Writing outside your comfort zone
Is this something you like to do or dread? Are you an embracer of this philosophy or a hater?
I have to confess I’m a definite embracer. I love the unknown, trying to take my ideas and creativity and turning it into something I haven’t done before.
Take my writing for example. I have NEVER read Romance stories. Well, I read some Mills and Boons when I was fourteen but not for very long. They all seemed to be the same. Since that time, I’ve leaned towards reading horror (Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Stephen Leather and the wonderful Joe Donnelly), anything psychological (Jonathan Kellerman, Val McDermid) or spy, detective and police stories (Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, Agatha Christie). But never Romance.
And yet, my first written and published book was a contemporary Romance suspense. Go figure. I have no idea how that all came about except I was in love at the time with a young British actor called Benedict Cumberbatch and I wanted to write a story about someone like him with a woman like me. Hence, Cassandra by Starlight was born. The inner Romantic in me surged to the surface like the flaring of a new Phoenix’s wings, and voila. I was a Romance author.
I also put topics in this book about uncomfortable subjects. Suicide, schizophrenia, celebrity stalkers, child abuse, female on male rape, vigilantism, cults, abusive ex-husbands, supernatural ghosts in theatres. Current WIP include the topics of severe child ‘pimping’ at the hands of a mother, bisexual serial killers, homophobia, gay bashing, retributivism, Stockholm Syndrome, sado-masochism and witch hunting.
And of course, I went totally out of my comfort zone by writing my first gay male romance, male sex scenes and writing a story solely from a man’s POV. I think I’ve earned my OMCZ (Outside My Comfort Zone) badge.
You don’t have to go to such extremes. There are other ways to jolt yourself out of the CZ. Here are a few.
1. Write a different POV. I normally write 3rd person, but in one of my books, ‘Waiting for Rain’ I wrote it in 1st person, alternating the POV for each of the main characters and really enjoyed it.
2. Change the story setting. Put yourself in another place, an unfamiliar situation.
3. Write about something controversial or upsetting. Force yourself to look at things from different perspective, perhaps even have one of your protagonists take on a view you might not agree with.
4.Write in a different genre. I write contemporary romance, but I also wrote a series of paranormal books, and an erotic crime thriller. I’ve written M/F and M/M. It stimulates the imagination and the boundaries and makes a writer understand exactly what it means to be diverse.
Try it. Don’t freak out, just do it one little step at a time and I’m sure you’ll discover the delights of pushing the limits of your creativity.
Title: Saving Alexander by Susan Mac Nicol
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, BDSM, Romance, M/M
Word Count: 89,000
Punishing himself for a horrific past that is not his fault, bestselling author Alexander Montgomery seeks redemption and love—and perhaps he will find it.
Famous author though he may be, Alexander Montgomery is not someone you take home to meet your mother. Seriously flawed, damaged by a horrific past, he’s trying hard to claw his way back to normality. But how can anyone respect what he truly is? His therapy involves regular sessions at Study in Scarlet, an exclusive S&M club.
Then comes Sage. Tall, with black hair and blue eyes, an up-and-coming actor with impossible charm and boy-next-door good looks, he’s the perfect choice to play the leading man in a TV adaptation of Alex’s latest best-seller. Even more, he is a man you introduce to your family. Which Alex would do—if he weren’t taken by another man who offers the punishments Alex prays will wipe away the past and make him the person he wants to be. Yet, perhaps there is another path to redemption. If only the solution would reach out and touch him.
Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives in Essex. Her debut novel Cassandra by Starlight, the first in a trilogy, was published earlier this year by Boroughs Publishing Group in the US. Sue’s latest story, Saving Alexander is her second m/m romance.
Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would see herself being a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.
Sue is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Romantic Novelists Association here in the UK.
Ms. Mac Nicol and her publisher, Boroughs Publishing Group, will be awarding a five-book subscription to their Lunchbox Romance line, plus a copy of Stripped Bare to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Follow the rest of the tour HERE.