Monday, June 29, 2009

Genre writing

"A good writer can write in any genre." - Mike Arnzen, SHU ~ "As long as they read, read, read in that genre."

When I heard this at my Master's residency this week I thought, "YES!" You see, after writing 33 romances and only publishing 9 -- 7 western historicals and 2 romantic suspense--I have begun to wonder if I would be more successful in another genre. So, I've immersed myself lately in YA and thrillers/mystery. (Sorry Mike, no horror for me...yet. Although I came close with a dark urban fantasy I wrote.) My immersion in other genre's has met with some resistance by other writers. They smile kindly to my face and whisper-"Good luck with that" behind their hands. Because the prevailing wisdom is choose a genre and stick with it always. There is some truth in this-you really learn the market and you build an audience that translates into better sales with each book. (so the theory goes.) It's smart. Think of the old cliche- "jack of all trades master of none."

But I've been writing romance for 15 years- I've published 9 and really haven't found my breakout point. Once you hit this level of experience, it's not necessarily a bad thing to explore other options- many famous novelists do- Steven King, and Nora Roberts to name a few. (And no, I have no illusions that I'm at their level.) But that doesn't mean that exploring other genres isn't the right thing for me to do at this point in my career.

I knew this- I believed this- and I am doing this despite the whispers behind my back- LOL- Still it was good to hear someone else agree with me. When you break a solid rule, sometimes it's nice to hear someone else validate your reasons for doing so.

Point being- no matter what genre you write- read, read, read- in that genre and others and don't be afraid to try something new. Cheers!


Mike Arnzen said...

Great getting to know you at the residency...and more power to you, Nancy! I think ANYTHING that restricts a writer's creativity is something to question, including genre labels. Good stories can transcend them, too. While you don't want to turn your back on your audience if you cultivate one, most people follow the writers whose trust they've earned. So all that really matters is the story you're currently working on. Tell a good story. That simple. That difficult.

Best wishes with your projects! -- Mike A.,

Jessica said...

Sounds good to me, Nancy. You definitely are an experienced writer and I don't see why you wouldn't be successful in another genre. :-)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Go for it! Be funny if you discovered something else was your niche, but you'll never know unless you try.

L. Diane Wolfe

Shorty said...

I believe one of two things will happen when you break away from what you know...

1. You will learn that even though you're pretty good in other genres, you're obviously better sticking to what you know. This is good because you won't have to change anything.

2. You will ROCK in a new genre and it will be quite obvious not only to you, but to others. This might be difficult, or it might be just the break you need. Plus, you can always learn something new about yourself.

Paige said...

The neat thing about the idea of romance (the concept, not the genre) is that it's pretty universal. Whether the setting is a dark urban fantasy with werewolves and vampires, a space opera set on Jupiter, or a gutsy thriller, the characters are still human and we all encounter different levels of love and romance in our lives. I guess the trick is that it won't be the (only) focus of the book anymore. ;)

Good luck!! Looking forward to hearing how this goes!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I like reading various genres. Writing short stories is my way to dabble in different genres and who knows - one may stretch out into novel length one day.


~Sia McKye~ said...

I read various genres, so why not write that way too. Sometimes writing something new is brings a freshness and excitement to your writing.

The important thing is telling a good story. And who says you have to leave your readers? You can write to both.

I love Nora Roberts, for example. But having read her work I know she tells a great story and consequently, I'm willing to explore new areas with her. Some I've loved, others not as much, but all are good stories.

Go for it.

Marilyn Brant said...

I absolutely agree with you, Nancy, and Good For You for experimenting!! I hear about writers feeling hemmed in by their genres and wishing they could try something else to bring back some of that raw excitement...and I really think we need to do that at times.

So, the only whispering you'll hear behind your back from me will be: She's stretching in her writing AND did you know she once wrote a whole book in 10 days?! (I'm forever in awe of that. :)

Joanne said...

Wise advice, to read, read, read. There's much to learn in that way. It seems like a good idea also to explore another genre, or format, or market, to challenge ourselves in some way to keep growing. And there's often something from other genres that we might bring back to our original genre, bringing a new spin to our work maybe?