There seems to be some pressure out there from literary agents, publishers, readers, and even other authors to stick with one genre. The reason is that it could possibly confuse or frustrate your book following if you publish a young adult fantasy book one year, and then a modern drama the next year.
No doubt, some people will expect certain things from their favourite writers. But I don’t think that staying with one genre is as important as some writers may think.
Do you know why?
Voice matters more than genre.
Most people enjoy books because they can identify with the characters and their struggles. An interesting plot is important, of course, but voice is the most essential component to any story.
A writer’s brand is their voice. Every one has their own unique writing style and message that they want to convey in their pieces. New writers may still need to find out what that is, and your voice becomes stronger the more you practice your craft. Your readership is going to follow you mostly because they can relate to your voice. This transcends genre. What they will care more about is the fact that you keep writing books for them to read.
Personally, I am a genre jumper. I have written young adult fantasy, dark fantasy, historical fiction, thrillers/horror, and drama works. But what a lot of people tell me is that every book I write has this certain feel to it, a certain otherworldly sense that they feel with nearly everything that I write. My mind is a little on the chaotic side, and it would drive me crazy (Well, more crazy) to limit myself to just one genre. Even one book can be classified under more than one category. But this world is obsessed with labels, and hence, this can lead to some insecurity for writers. Focusing on genre could be a detriment to the writing process. Anything that is an art should not be put inside of a box. It will become stale. It will seem forced, or simply boring.
As a writer, what you need to do is find what it is you want to write about. What is the purpose of your book? What is it that you want to show to your readers?
Write the story that has been burning inside of you, and worry about the genre later. If your second and third books are totally different genres from your first, then so be it. Don’t worry about what people will say.
There is another reason why genre jumping can help your success as a writer more than hurt you. You will grow as an author if you push new boundaries and allow yourself to write without borders. Writing is your passion. It is supposed to be fun!
Do not waste time reading up on the trends or sifting through article after article about what this agent and that agent is looking for. When you write from the heart, without any inhibitions, your voice will come through.
Simply put, write what you want to write. When you enjoy what you have written, then more people are going to enjoy reading what you have written.
I think I would become bored as a writer if I was forced to just one genre in my career. Not to mention, stretching my fingers, in perhaps a direction I’ve never thought of or tried before, is a pretty important goal. I think if I was to force myself into a bubble of Historical Fiction/Romance books for the rest of my life, I would probably give up writing. It would suck the fun and imagination right out of the reason I started to begin with. 🙂
Such a good point. Challenging yourself as a writer keeps things fresh and exciting. Nothing could be worse than losing inspiration to write because you think you need to bow down to one genre.
I think I’d be bored if I had to focus on just one genre as well. I’d want to write in a few different genres. Honestly, when you write in one genre it makes your writing stronger and more beautiful in the other genre as well! 🙂
I know, wouldn’t it be terrible to limit your creativity to just one vein? You brought up a great point that your writing will become stronger and more beautiful in the other genres when you are brave enough to be yourself and write where your inspiration leads.
I agree, people should forget about trends and focus on giving life to the stories that grip them – regardless of genre. I love all things fantasy and paranormal but strangely enough – my NaNo idea revolves around cyborgs and pirates – which I love! As long as you are true to your story and voice, I’d like to think the rest falls into place.
Cyborgs and pirates. Nice! 😀 I love the idea, and how it moves away from the usual fantasy stories that you write. It’s true what you said, that it’s better to stick with your voice and the story, and forget the trends. .
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