Every writer has a genre, even if she/he doesn’t think about it. There are those like me who write in several genres. Why? Because it’s what the writer likes to read.
Not long ago I was in conversation with several other writers about this subject. A question came up as to whether someone can write a genre if they don’t read it. I know. Who would have though, right?
The thing is, a person reads a particular type of story for pleasure—even if it’s non-fiction. (More on that in a minute.) Why would any writer want to craft a science fiction story, for instance, if they don’t like reading them? Reader popularity, that’s why.
Genre Slots and Their Needs
Let’s use one category as our focus. Sci-fi is a strong seller most of the time. Of course, if someone doesn’t read sci-fi, how will they know or understand the different types of conventions, jargon, and specs that go along with each category of science fiction? There are several types out there, all with their own labels.. Dystopian, utopian, steampunk, time slippage/time travel, hard, soft, social, speculative, alternative history, fantasy and its types, horror, etc. The list gets longer every year with new cross-over writing styles and approaches.
Beyond that major consideration is the niche market involved (audience.) Is the story for young children, middle grade, YA, new adults, or adults? Each of these categories of readers has its own specifications to narrow its focus and its language usage.
All the other genres are much the same, with regard to type, audience, and reader expectations.
Following Writing/Story Trends
Types of hot stories come and go like hairstyles. There’s a cyclic rhythm to what’s hot and what’s not. Vampires are dying out, as are werewolves. I know. Let’s all take a moment in silent acknowledgement of the passing of this fad. It was lucrative while it lasted, but now it’s time to move on.
Dystopian has always had an audience and probably always will. It’s all those pessimists out there. Stemapunk is just plain fun. It’s inventive and quirky and fun. It has the added bonus of a different mindset, too, which adds to its popularity with adults as well as younger readers.
When I was around twelve, before Gilligan’s island, I wrote a story about a woman who’d gone to a uninhabited, tropical island for her own peace of mind. She even created a pedal-car from bamboo and a fantastic house with all sorts of imaginative uses for resources from the island. Who would have thought I’d be so far ahead of the times with that one. And I hadn’t yet read Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson.
I wrote it because it was fun to use my imagination that way. Was it any good? I can’t really say. I’m too biased. But it lead me toward what I enjoyed reading—science fiction.
The point is: every fad/trend ends. If the writer follows the trends, she’s always doomed to being behind the curve. Writing what you have no affinity for is worse than risky. There’s no joy in it.
Carving Out a Writer’s Path
No one can write any other way. Our minds work with what we’ve already learned/experienced to build our text. Those who work with memoir know this.
Memoir is one form of non-fiction that can be used for many writing genres. An event from childhood triggers a story for children about a specific place, event, life-lesson. Take your pick. The same can hold true for stories for adults, too. A favorite party dress or football jersey brings back memories. The writer has a choice: write the memory in a memoir piece or cast it with other characters and drop it into fiction for a specific genre.
Mainstream—whatever your definition—holds the same advantages for using non-fiction. Whether your interest lies in science, fashion, decorating, or anything else you choose, it’s based on something you know or are interested in.
The list of options for writing seems endless right now in the publishing world. Jumping on trendy bandwagons won’t necessarily grow you a reliable and loyal reader base. Writing for readers who enjoy the same stories that you do can build such a reader base. And that’s the whole purpose of writing and sharing your work. It embraces the essence of the ying and yang of the universe. Think about it.
As for me, I enjoy reading so many different types of stories I’ll never run out of work to enjoy, on either side of the keyboard.
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