The Art of Balance by Matt Doyle

The Art of Balance

Balance. It’s something that most of us seek in our day to day lives, whether it be via a work-life balance, finances, or even just where we choose to spend our time. The same concept applies to writing too.

For me personally, stories are one big balancing act. I tend to write hybrid genre tales, meaning that no one story is set in one particular style. For example, my current series The Cassie Tam Files is equal parts sci-fi and silver screen noir. The art of balance comes into play because science fiction and mystery readers will likely have different tolerance levels for different types of story. So, how do you approach something like that? Do you make it all about the mystery, and leave little in the way of futuristic elements? Do you get tech-heavy and let that lead the mystery instead of old-fashioned sleuthing? Or do you try to find a middle ground?

As with life, finding a middle-ground is the only path that you can guarantee will prove beneficial for all involved, but it’s also potentially the hardest route to take. The trick comes in knowing what elements of a story to push, and most importantly, when. For my PI Cassie, that means a ride through two different types of story but with a shared goal. In the first book, Addict, she’s investigating the death of a virtual reality junkie. At times, her methods take her down a very noir path, with her stubbornness and willingness to get her hands dirty being reminiscent of a female Sam Spade or a Jessica Jones without the super strength. Due to the setting though, she also needs to immerse herself in the tech-focused world that she lives in, tracing online interactions and interacting with people who use technology for all manner of things. From talking to Tech Shifters – people who use metal exoskeletons to roleplay as animals – to physically intimidating drug users, Cassie has to keep one foot in each world to function.

In the end, how well does a balance like this work though? Well, take a look at your favorite stories. The chances are that most of them contain elements and genre conventions from outside their primary classification. If after doing so, you want to check out whether Cassie and her cases balance things the right way for you, you can find more information in the links below.


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