Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Insecure writer: switching genres

The first Wednesday of the month
 is time for Insecure Writers
 Support Group, hosted
by Alex Cavanaugh and his
excellent team. 
Click here for a list
of all the participants and to join in.
It's time for me to move on to a new writing project, or revisit an old one that got shelved for a while. But I'm having a hard time deciding which direction to head next. I have written four books now, all in different genres or age groups:  middle grade fantasy, Christian women's fiction, young adult historical fantasy, and most recently, young adult science fiction. I haven't really worried about this until I now because I love reading many genres, and so it made sense to explore writing in all my favorite genres.

But now that I've written in each of my four favorite areas, I'm wondering if it isn't time to finally "settle" with one.

Problem is, I can't settle. I still love all four of them. I have new ideas to pursue in 3 of the 4 genres.  It wouldn't be too much of a stretch from young adult fantasy to science fiction, since science fiction and fantasy are often lumped together. But from young adult SF/F to Christian women's fiction? That's not even remotely the same audience.

I'm torn between the maxim, "know your audience" and writing what I love.  I know self-publishing gives you more options, and there's also the option of publishing under a different name, but this is still an insecurity that pokes its head up once in a while when I try to look at my long term goals for writing.

Any one else out there in love with writing in wildly different genres?


29 comments:

  1. I've switched around different YA genres since I started writing stories, but it wasn't until I took a chance on something completely different (NA contemporary romance) that I become published. I had written romance subplots in my YA stories, but never had they been a major part of the book. I'm glad I took the chance and found a genre that's a better fit for me. I have, though, thought of mixing things up a bit, and exploring other NA genres.

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    1. When I started reading YA, it felt like the right fit for me. I still think it is. But everyonce in a while I look at my older Christian and MG manuscripts and think about how much I loved them, too and then I wonder...

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  2. I haven't been in this situation…yet! But I'm totally open to writing in different genres. Yes, self publishing allows you to do whatever the heck you want. You may find totally different audiences :)

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  3. Meh, I know there's all this marketing philosophy around what the answer to your question "should" be... but... if you have a story inside you that wants to be told, you gotta tell it... doesn't matter what your fan base/target market wants from you. Write what you WANT to write... Write from the heart.

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    1. Ultimately I think the heart should always trump industry advice. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  4. I have written in slightly different genres (MG Contemp vs. MG Fantasy vs. YA Contemp), but I honestly feel you should write what you love. I know of one writer who used a pseudonym for her women's Christian fiction and her real name for her MG/YA stuff. I think there are all kinds of options. Write what you love. That's my advice. :)

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    1. Who is that writer that did both Christian and mainstream MG/YA?

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  5. I've always written historical fiction, and have exclusively written 20th century historical for over 20 years now. I do have some soft sci-fi/futuristic books planned or on hiatus, which is the only other genre I've ever seriously written in. If you're not as focused on a single genre, it can't hurt to play around until you land on the one genre that ignites the most passion in you.

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    1. After visiting your blog, I'm excited to try that Feature and Follow hop. Thank you! I'm leaning towards my historical fantasy... love history too.

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  6. I think that if the writing flows, then go for it! The only problem I can see is if you're not using different pen names for - contrary - genres, as in where the readers might be put off by the other genre (I'm thinking in extremes, here - erotica and christian fiction, for example). Other than that...really, write what you feel like writing!!

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  7. I write history, fantasy within the children's genre, right now longing for my husband to recover, writing must wait.

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    1. Nice to see you again here! Off to visit your blog and hoping your husband recovers soon!

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  8. I'm published in YA and now in NA using the pseudonym Kitsy Clare. I like both genres.

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    1. Enjoyed visiting your Untethered Realms!

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  9. They always say to write what you love. Like you, I love many different genres. The one that really grabs me most though is YA fantasy. I can read anything, but my best work seems to be win the unreal world. What is your best work? What really picks you up and shakes you around?
    You don't have to pick only one, but it will help your readers follow you if you can get keep going down one road for a while.

    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

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    1. I love how you put it: what picks up up and shakes you around? Going to keep that in mind as I re-read my older manuscripts - if one of them starts shaking me, I'll know it's the one!

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  10. You have to write what you have to write. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it's really true. You have to write for you first, because you're going to spend a long time with that project: you have to love it. In short write whatever genre works for you.

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    1. Spending a long time is certainly the truth! I think I spend a longer time than average with my manuscripts :)

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  11. I love history so much that not writing historical fiction feels, well, sort of weird and wrong. However, I do have a few fully-formed ideas for contemporary novels, but they have a very strong historical bent to them.

    So I guess my answers is that, no, I don't struggle too much with which genre to write in. I'm firmly a historical novelist!

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    1. History is one of my great loves too and honestly the book I'm leaning toward right now is my historical fantasy. Since I've known you for years now and ADORE your posts, I am so eager to read your historical fiction someday!

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  12. I think there's nothing wrong with writing different genres. If you publish, you may want to use a pen name for one of them. I write middle grade and young adult--both contemporary and contemporary fantasy. It's not as extreme. But if a story idea hits you, how can you NOT write it?

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    1. I guess why I'm struggling is I haven't had a "YOU MUST WRITE ME!" idea in a while, so I'm trying to decide which of my older books to go back to and revise, which brings up the genre question. But all of these comments have been so re-affirming. Thank you!

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  13. I write in several different genres. I plan to use different pen names. I know I need to get established in a certain genre at first, but I plan to continue to pursue others, even if I have to go about it a different way.

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    1. This advice is really spot on. Get established in one genre; then pursue others. Thank you!

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  14. I have the same problem, Margo! I like the above posters' suggestions about getting established in one genre first. I know that many published authors have veered off into different directions once they wrote the book they're known for, in the genre they are most comfortable with.

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  15. I think you could definitely do a combination! I've skipped around between various genres within the larger umbrella of fantasy, but I also write more serious contemporary pieces for my short fiction and for my day job.

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  16. Margo, why am I not surprised we are both genre hoppers? My first love is sci-fi, but I've written contemporary humor and fairy tale retells as well. Don't make me pick one - don't make me pick one.

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  17. Wow. I'm so glad I found this blog entry. I'm starting out in self publishing, but I'm having trouble picking a genre to write in. All my previous writing experience has been in romance and NA, but lately I've been reading lots of YA and have come up with a few ideas for that genre. I really like the advice to write what you like and not to worry about which genre the story fits in.

    Thank you for this post! I'm so glad I'm not alone in this particular dilemma.

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