The biggest thing I've learned over the last two years (or relearned) is that writing is about the story and the characters, and their emotional, intellectual and spiritual journey. At least for me. Where the story is set, or what genre, or what plot devices are used, doesn't matter as much.
I'm nearing the end of The Last Fedora, and my focus is on the emotional journey of the characters.
It may feature Golems and Gangsters, but it isn't about Golems and Gangsters, anymore than the Hobbit is about Orcs, or Star Wars is about space ships, or Harry Potter is about magic.
I'd already decided this as a reader.
I've been mystified for years by how easily people categorize their reading. "Oh, I don't read science fiction."
Well, why? Do you like good stories? A story set in Jane Austen's England is more real than a story set in near future America? Huh?
You can make the case that Jane Austen is a better writer than more science fiction writers -- she's a better writer than writers of most novels. But that is a different issue. Where it is set, with what specific devices the writer is using isn't as important as whether you like the characters, or whether you enjoy the story.
Anyway, yesterday was about road trip -- the characters bonding. Today, it's about love story, the hero and heroine meeting again.
Oh, and there are gangsters chasing them and the Golem is protecting them, but that is the action which carries the story. The action doesn't matter if you don't care about the characters.
In other words, I'm not writing a story about Golems and gangsters and dressing it with some characters I put through their paces.
No it's about characters, for whom the Golems and gangsters are devices to tell their story.
I have to be conscious that readers of horror want a certain amount action, and yes, gore and horror -- but I'll only do that if it makes sense for the characters and the story, not the other way around. So I had a bonding chapter that could have been written with just the road trip aspects, but because I was writing a Horror Noir novel, I brought in the gangsters -- but only because it deepened the actions of the characters.
I'm not going to convince anyone who rejects Tuskers because it's about a Wild Pig Apocalypse. Or Led to the Slaughter because it has werewolves.
But it's important that I understand the difference.
13 hours ago