Friday, June 13, 2014

On Switching Genres

Some people read only a certain genre or two, while others read anything and everything. Writers are the same way. Some of us have our genre – the one that excites us, that we’re comfortable in, that we never want to leave. But some of us have a story idea for every genre in existence (and maybe some that technically don’t) and have no idea what kind of group we fit into.

I tend to be the latter. If you were to see my list of story ideas, you’d see what I mean. I have concepts for historical fiction, contemporaries, sci-fi, fantasy, character-driven standalone novels, young adult series, romances, and numerous others. My passion doesn’t focus on just one or two genres. Not that writers who do write only a few genres are bad; they actually have it easier in some ways. That’s just not me.

Image courtesty of jscreationzs backslash
“Image courtesy of jscreationzs/”

This expansive vision has its problems, though. Articles I’ve read on being a successful author say you need to focus on writing similar genres. Otherwise it’s very difficult to build up a solid readership. I understand what they’re saying and it scares me. Can I maintain readers’ expectations when I’m turning out a historical romance one moment and young adult spy series the next? I don’t know. So, for example, I recently finished the first draft of Raiders’ Rise, which is a fantasy, of sorts, though, according to one of my readers, it’s more of a “Tech/Sci-Fi Fantasy.” (Told you my story ideas didn’t fit into neat little boxes.) But I’m not really a fantasy person; I don’t read a lot of it, and I’m not brimming with fantasy story ideas. But I love this story, and it’s meant to be a fantasy (or whatever it is). Yet, while I’m taking a break from it before I edit, I’m writing a coming-of-age novella set in the Antebellum South. A complete genre shift, hmm? Would someone interested in Raiders’ Rise like Mason’s story? I have no way of knowing right now. All I do know is that I love both stories.

Putting the problems aside for a moment, it has been an interesting shift going from fantasy to historical fiction. Of course, I’m also going from the end of a story, where I’ve got a good handle on everything, to the beginning of one, where I don’t know a huge amount about it yet. In addition, I’m going from a female protagonist to a male protagonist. Yeah, these stories are quite disparate. And transferring myself from one to another has been interesting. Instead of worrying about creating a whole new story world, I now need to focus on conforming to historical facts. Thus, I’ve enlisted the disliked “R” word – “research.” So, I have times when I must stop and look something up. But I’m starting to get into this story; I’m excited to see where it goes!

I’m hoping to finish the draft before I start editing Raiders’ Rise, and then I’ll be working on a Beauty and the Beast retelling for this amazing contest. Then I’m off with the sequel to Raiders’ Rise and more editing! I’m getting excited just telling you about it! So, as you can see, I have a busy year full of many different genres. I still don’t know how I’ll tackle the problem of writing such different stories from a publishing perspective, but I’m willing to go where God leads with these stories. What about you? Do you write a specific genre, or does your brain go off in all directions like mine?  If so, how do you handle the switch between genres? Let me know in the comments; I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


  1. Ooh! A sequel to Raider's Rise? *squeals*
    I'm a fantasy person. Who knows if that will ever change though. I'm quite interested in Sci-Fi also, but you'd need a lot of imagination for thinking up the future.
    - Katie

    1. *laughs* Yep, it definitely gets a sequel.

      Well, you need a lot of imagination for writing fantasy, too. The difference with sci-fi is that it usually has to sound somewhat plausible in the confines of our world. :D

  2. I wonder if you could use different pen names for the different genres.

    1. That's definitely a possibility and I know many authors do it. I could see using one for contemporary and historical and a different one for "different worlds" - sci fi, fantasy, dystopian, etc. :) But then, of course, there's the matter of keeping readers in both demographics happy with steady output :D

  3. I think for me, I have more of a writing style that carries into everything I write, rather than particular genre. If that makes sense...
    Looks like you have lots of awesome project lined up! Busy days!

    1. That makes perfect sense, especially in light of what I've read of yours! :) You have the ability to give a gritty, real voice to a character, regardless of what character you're writing.


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