When Rich and I go to our cottage, I love to unfold the card table and dump out a jigsaw puzzle on it. I know, however, that little else will be accomplished while we’re there as the puzzle will be my obsession. I love puzzles—any kind: jigsaw, crossword, Sudoku, riddles. That’s why I love mysteries; they are puzzles where clues are revealed one by one, red herrings inserted just for fun. Piecing all things together and coming to a solution satisfies me as much as crossing everything off my “to do” list.
That’s why I’ve been stumped. My WIP, The Cavanaugh House, is a mystery, or so I have been saying. Is it a cozy mystery, or a romantic suspense? I keep going back and forth trying to decide. Reading mysteries to determine what genre The Cavanaugh House fits has been most distressing because it doesn’t fit any. Without a dead body in the first chapter, how can it be a cozy mystery? Without the focus centering on a love relationship, how can it be romantic suspense? There is a body, there is
romance, but… Frustration has been fomenting inside me as I try to insert this
puzzle piece where it doesn’t fit.
|The Cavanaugh House|
Perhaps my WIP does not have a neat, rectangular frame like most jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps it is irregularly configured like that amoeba-shaped puzzle I worked on at my brother-in-law’s cottage. Challenging, yes, but oh, so satisfying upon completion! Perhaps my WIP does not fit neatly into a specific genre. This concept is both frightening and freeing. Recently I did a puzzle with my daughter and one of us placed a piece that seemed to fit in both shape and pattern, but when time came to add the last piece, it didn’t fit. We discovered the misplaced piece—the other’s twin almost—corrected the mistake and completed the puzzle with the celebratory tradition of running of our hands over the final product. We sighed in contentment.
Right now I feel like I haven’t yet discovered the misplaced piece in my WIP puzzle. Once I stop trying to fit this book into a convenient genre and just get on with writing it, the closer I’ll be to satisfaction. As of today I am writing a genre-less book. I know the theme, I know the plot, I kind of know the ending, and I can’t wait to get back to it. How will it look at completion? It’s a mystery.