I've been doing a lot of thinking about subtleties. I know, hard to believe coming from me. I generally use a sledgehammer rather than kid gloves to make my point... However, I've been editing, and I've come to a few interesting conclusions.
What determines the sub-genre of a book? I used to think it was the content of the story. Does the plot have a strictly romantic conflict, or are there bad guys to contend with? I always maintained I couldn't write straight contemporary (except novella length) because I needed the suspense to fill out a full-length book. But, I'm starting to think content isn't the deciding factor in determining sub-genre.
I'm using our own Margo, my beleaguered CP, as my case in point. I'm approaching the end of her latest WIP in a frenzy of editing. This is book two of her Brothers-in-Blue series about cops who protect the women they love from creepy villains. Now, I've also had my grubby little mitts all over book one. My constant comments were that she needed more suspense elements to make these books true romantic suspense because something just felt off. Reading book two, I realized the number of bad-guy encounters wasn't the actual problem.
Why didn't these books feel like suspense? I finally came to the conclusion it's not plot but voice, tone, style--or maybe all of the above. It's the same reason I can't write straight contemporary, I don't have the right style. Margo delves into the romance and the deep emotions of her characters. She takes her time telling their story. Me, I make people tired when they read my books because my pace is fast and furious. I don't delve. Neither style is wrong. They're just different. However, a quick pace lends itself to romantic suspense because it keeps the reader on edge. On the other hand, deeper emotions feels more contemporary.
So, despite the fact Margo is writing about cops and bad guys, my suggestion was she shop her series as contemporary with suspense elements. The only downside, she needs to add more S-E-X to make them really appealing as contemporaries. Always a downside... LOL
What do you all think? Does the content or the tone determine the sub-genre of a book? Is my theory out to lunch, or am I on to something? Please chime in.
And while we're on the subject of the second book in a series...Every Step She Takes, book two in my Who's Watching Now series is on sale for 99 cents. Get your copy on Amazon now. Or check out all my books on my Website.