Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are You Really Writing in the Right Genre?


We all start somewhere with writing. Maybe we start writing in our favorite genre. Maybe an idea hits us and we start there. Maybe we start with technical writing.

I began writing as a teenager. I probably wrote a hundred short stories during my high school years. They were a mixture of fiction - romance, fantasy, science fiction, horror… In my twenties I completed a novelette involving an alternate world. Even had someone critique it.

Jump ahead ten years and a wisp of a dream that would inspire my YA series. I poured myself into those books and they came so easy. I never envisioned YA though. Sad that New Adult wasn’t around then, because that’s where they should be placed. I’m still proud of that series, especially the final one.

I also wrote a non-fiction self-help book. It tied in with my motivational speaking and only took me three months to write.

Now I am in the middle of edits for my next book, another non-fiction title. I took a little longer to write, but I had so much more going on than during the first one.

As I revise and continue researching to get all the details right, I realize something. This is very comfortable. Although the amount of work and research to put this book together seemed overwhelming, I’m enjoying it. It suits my personality - I’m extremely organized and a detail person. With non-fiction, I think I am finally writing in my proper genre.

Do you ever stop to consider why you write your current genre? If you’ve been frustrated by revisions or rejections, do you stop and wonder if this is really what you were meant to write? Is there a possibility you are good with this genre, but with a different one, you’d be excellent? Are you really writing to your strengths?

22 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think you're a great match for non-fiction--thoughtful, organized, detail-oriented.

I tried a couple of other genres first and I couldn't seem to jump into the books the way I can with mysteries.

Jan Morrison said...

Hmmmm...I'm currently revising a mainstream novel. I have a mystery that needs work and I have a memoirish thing on the back-burner. I'd like to write a non-fiction based on my years of work as a psychotherapist, called 'The Myth of the Soul Mate and Other Ways we Rationalize our Bad Behaviour' but so far, only have the title! I'm not sure which I find the most comfortable to write BUT I know that I want to be a writer of literary fiction. The least likely to support me financially but there you have it. Maybe that wish should be a chapter in my Myth's manuscript! Thanks for the provocative post.

KarenG said...

Doesn't surprise me at all that nonfiction is the genre that you feel most comfortable in, because your blog posts are so informative and helpful, with just the right amount of information, key elements in good non fiction writing.

It makes me wonder-- I wonder if the books we fly through when writing are where we really need to be?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Right now, I think I'm writing to the only strength I know.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I've written four different books- all of them YA but all of them a different genre YA. The problem is I don't think I have one specific 'genre'. I'm a mood reader and a mood writer. I write the book I feel like living/reading/experiencing- whether it's a suspensful thriller/horror or a paranormal history or contemporary chicklit:)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you, Elizabeth.

Jan, you never know about that non-fiction book though.

Thank you, Karen. Considering the length of my fiction books, I did fly through them when writing, but I don't think they are my strength.

Creepy Query Girl, I think that diversity is your strength.

Lynn said...

I do wonder where I should be placing my time and efforts. Being also detailed and systematic, I wonder if I would be stronger with personal essay and creative non-fiction than fiction, yet I have not been studying those genres. And then there is photography! From your posts, and with your sense of humour, I can see how non-fiction is one of your many strengths!

Johanna Garth said...

Non-fiction...I'm so glad you've found something that is a comfortable fit.

I wonder whether my genre is correct all the time. Also I hate the idea of being pigeonholed into only one genre. Sigh, so many ideas so little time.

Sarah Pearson said...

I think about this a lot. I'm only starting out so I'm lucky in that there are no expectations on me. My first was future-fiction, my second YA. The current one is a women's contemporary. I dread the day I have to decide :-)

Holly Ruggiero said...

I did a lot of nonfiction writing - and I loved it but I enjoy the fiction more. I like the element of "getting away" when I write or read.

Matthew MacNish said...

I've only written one book (which isn't even really done), and it isn't in my favorite genre to read, but it was the story that came to me, or through me, so it was the one I wrote.

Sounds like you're doing well, Diane. That's great!

Karen Lange said...

Great question, Diane. I was thinking along these lines the other day, and I really need to sit down and go over some of my goals. Been kind of restless and feeling non productive even though I've been busy. Treading water, I think. :) Thanks for the shove in the right direction!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

The first poem I wrote was when we had our dog put to sleep.......I had never written a poem before.Eight years passed then our first grandchild was born so out came the pen again. Then fate interveened, 10 days after Josh was born my mother passed away and then my husband 2 months later, my poems was therapy for me and have been for the past 13 years.
Yvonne.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like you've found your perfect niche! I've been spending the last year or so trying to decide just that. I think I'm in the right place now, but only time will tell. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've actually considered this question. I love reading mysteries and thrillers but I've never tried to write in that genre.
My first love for reading has always been fantasy and that's what I write. But I often consider giving mysteries a try.

Nicki Elson said...

I think you make a good point - when you're in the right place, it feels right. Which is not to say it's easy, just right. It's very cool that you've found the place you're most happy. :)

Thanks for letting me now about that bad link at my blog today! I fixed it up and would've never known if you hadn't told me.

Trisha said...

I started writing when I was a kid...like, probably 4 or 5. First year high school, I wrote a short story that I saw more as a novel (so did the English teacher I was writing it for). Then later in high school I began my first (and only) high fantasy novel - it's still not finished. LOL. But since then I've written at least 7 novels. I haven't done a count in a while, need to go back & do so.

LD Masterson said...

I write what I like to read. I figure if I don't enjoy reading a certain genre, I'm not going to be very good at writing it.

Anne said...

Thanks for this! I definitely feel schizophrenic at times. I'm slowly releasing some of the corporate writing (which I've been doing for years), just finished my first non-fiction book and am slowly getting up the courage to put some time into writing my first novel.
Anne :)

DL Hammons said...

I've struggled with this more and more lately. Writing mysteries comes more naturally to me, but I always find myself drawn towards more thriller, horror, Stephen King - Dean Koontz material. For right now I'm sticking with the mysteries...but who knows. :)

p.m.terrell said...

Diane, this blog really hit home with me. I've written 13 books to date and I'm now working on my 14th. I've enjoyed writing each one, but during my 13th, I realized something had "clicked" and I was writing effortlessly. I think it had a lot to do with a specific character's personality and the additional layer of romance, which I hadn't used to such an extent in previous books. It definitely made a big difference in the writing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sarah, maybe you won't have to.

Matthew, that's what happened with my YA series - it was just the story that hit.

DL, sounds like you have many options.

Hi Trish! I think that's what has hit me with the non-fiction. It's easier. (That and it sells better.)