Monday, September 26, 2011

Genres as Beer

You heard me. This is high logic here. Seriously... I was thinking the other day about something I've frequently said... when I drink beer [note: remember my often said philosophy—if you can see through it, why bother? So really I am mostly talking about ale, though the Beer Wench has proven to me that variety in lager is indeed available]


Back to writing and beer... When I drink beer, there is sort of a 'flavor total' I seek. I love a variety, but if it is amber, I like it bitter, if it is golden it needs to be REALLY bitter... but if it is BROWN, then I sort of prefer something a little on the sweet side. Especially if it's DARK brown and heavy—I like a porter, or a smooth oatmeal stout better than a plain old stout.

See... This is how I WRITE! Let me e'splain...

Let's say TOPICS addressed determine how DARK a beer is...Death is of course darkest, but if death is pretty black, rape is nearly there and kidnapping is pretty dark brown... are you with me? Psychological trauma is amber—because it's dark, but easier to overcome.

Sweet stories of love and romance? Golden. Unreal elements would be those unexpected thrills... fantasy, paranormal--(can you say pumpkin spice or ginger ale—and by ginger ale I mean an ale made with ginger, not a soft drink)--I like these, too—quite a bit if they're done well, but honestly, I like them best STILL DARK... those Christmas Ales that are brown and have nutmeg and cloves are AMAZING. The mainstream version not so much...

A FUN romance... (I'm sorry... is my cynic showing? *cough*) But a comedic romance or a romance with some life lessons (usually sold under the heading 'chick lit') would be still golden but maybe... FRUITY... (My buddy Stacy writes romance with enough humor and action that I'd maybe call them a raspberry ale, though surely she'd prefer to be a snozberry) My point is, even in fiction there is a 'flavor total' I prefer... if it is DARK, I need the sweet elements. My cozy mysteries have dead bodies... but they are funny, on the light side... Maybe nut browns.

I write a darker MOOD in most of my stuff, but the death (if even there) isn't so central, so the topic isn't quite as dark. In this writing I focus on YA (which allows some 'innocence', by ALWAYS having a character or two with a sense of humor, and by allowing for a relatively happy ending. And I generally focus on more 'relatively dark' instead of fully dark... yes, death, but it is more peripheral, rather than the theme... I kidnap a lot (is that bad?) Two of my ten books have included rapes.

So there we have it.

What kind of ale do YOU write?

22 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love your beer posts! And I totally agree about your beer philosophy (if you can see through it...) Comparing genres to beer--yes! I do think cozies could be nut browns. :)

And now I'm in the mood for a beer, which will have to be put off, since it's 5:15 a.m....

Old Kitty said...

A NAKED ale - very naughty and with no clothes on! Yay! Take care
x

Liz said...

seeing through a beer should never be a criteria for greatness...I am headed to Denver next week and plan to collect some Hardware in the form of medals for many of my beer INCLUDING the tastiest, bitterest, sharpest, driest IPL on the planet: The Gulo Gulo! I wrote sexy romance. My business parters were once asked to say "what sort of beer is their Wench" and the consensus
RauchBier: The ultimate smoking hot beer of Germany.
cheers
remember where to go for beer and sexy words Hart!
see you in the Tap Room soon .. ?

Johanna Garth said...

Great analogy, we write the way we make life choices, food (and drink) being the most consistent life choice.

Btw, I friend served me Select 55 this summer. I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're not a fan;)

L.G.Smith said...

I would definitely be the dark oatmeal stout with a raven on the label. I tend to brood some when I write.

Fun analogy.

Hart Johnson said...

Elizabeth-we really need to figure out a time to drink beer together one of these days. We can have a nut brown together!

Jenny-you know, I think I may have seen Naked Ale... don't remember who makes it...

Liz-I was trying to think of something spicy for you, but smoky works, too! And my Couch to 5K group keeps talking about stopping in the tap room... maybe Friday...

Johanna-Select 55, eh? I had to look it up. I can't really stomach any Bud products--the formaldehyde disagrees with me. teehee (erm... I'm serious... that they use formaldehyde, i mean...)

Hart Johnson said...

LG-I know, right?! That's a GREAT one, too--smooth and heavy... sticks with you... just like great writing.

Becky Mahoney said...

Mmmmm, this post is delicious. I shall now aspire to write like Guinness: dark, rich, and utterly awesome. Yum!

Heather Savage said...

I tend to write dark but with a lighter infusion because we all need to laugh even with there is a body on the floor. Kind of a black and tan sort of girl I guess. --HK Savage

Michael Offutt said...

I have no idea what kind of ale I write. I shall have to think on this...maybe a Fat Tire comes to mind.

Dawn Ius said...

LOVE THIS POST. Anyone who can turn beer-casting into a writing-related post is a hero in my not-even-drunken eyes! I write dark...but I drink light. It's all about alcohol balance, right?

M.J. Nicholls said...

I think Dylan Thomas and Malcolm Lowry would love you. They basically wrote beer. Any prose/poetry was purely incidental. My own prose is merely a fizzy confection, liable to cause tooth rot.

Holly Ruggiero said...

I love this analogy. Let's see one is dark ale, one amber, and one non-alcoholic (my children's story).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Probably more towards the dark and stout side. Think my second book will be lighter though. But no less filling!

Cold As Heaven said...

The lagers are kind of boring. I like them dark >:)

Cold As Heaven

Hart Johnson said...

Becky-thank you! I love those, too, though one goes a long ways.

Ha! Heather--black and tan--NICE!

Michael-oh, nice choice!

Dawn-teehee--I am extreme for both, but you can do it how you want to!

Mark *snort* You are one of those wacky barley wines, I think. AWESOME but just on the verge of making you incoherent...

Holly--you got a root beer in there! teehee

Alex-YAY for keeping the body, even when you lose the color!

CaH-I definitely prefer dark to light, though my beer wench friend does some lagers that are pretty brown--not as heavy as ales, but very flavorful and full range of colors.

LTM said...

LOL! TH, you are so funny comparing beer to genres, but it's good! I get it now!!! j/k

snozberry. *snort* But I agree, those Christmas ales are my all time favorite. I wonder if that means I'm just a sweet story kinda gal~ :D <3

Helena said...

I tend to drink light, golden stuff and then writer more dark stuff. Maybe there's a balance in there...

Heather Savage said...

Sometimes I say I'm channeling my inner Hemmingway though and break out the scotch or whiskey for a new sort of inspiration. What would that make me? Irish?

Simon C. Larter said...

So what color of beer is it when you disembowel a priest in the first chapter? >.>

Now what I REALLY want to see is how genre writing compares to hard liquor. But wouldn't everything hard liquor eventually boil down to noir? Huh.

I should give this more thought. While drinking. Yes.

Oh, and great post, good lady! :D

Ciara said...

I'm gonna have to share this post with hubby. Loved it!

Stacy Gail said...

The magnificent and noble snozberry beats razzleberry in head-to-head competition every time. =D

This is such a great post! <3 Personally, I would LOVE to write something that's comparable to a deep, dark lager. But I have to admit, even my "darkest" writing has snort-worthy moments sprinkled throughout, so... yeah. You nailed my stuff DEAD-on. *thumbs up*