What’s your Genre?

Genre is something I don’t talk of much on this blog, but I know I’ve always had something to say about it on posts from other people. Most of the time, what I have to say is how I’m a big supporter of exploring different genres and how much I dislike the idea that an author should be expected to stick with a genre and if they venture away from that genre, the smartest idea is to take on a new pen name. This is yet another benefit inherent in self-publishing, t hat you can go ahead and publish whichever genre you like, despite what the last one was. Whether or not readers buy it is another story, of course.

(Image from Cartoon Stock)

I woke this morning thinking of genre again, which I give partial blame to Miq over at Three Descriptors and her brief but poignant post regarding Tolkein’s legacy of verboseness in the fantasy genre. I’ve always had a soft spot for fantasy; my love for writing and creating world came from fantasy, and my fantasy work is at the crux of passion. However, I also went to school, and, in college, fantasy is a dirty word, but this is a good thing because it applied the pressure I needed to branch out and try new things and discover that I’m just as in love with general fiction as I am fantasy. I love writing science fiction and I love writing horror and I love writing paranormal fiction and I love writing historical fiction. I love reading all of that, too, and the stigma against an author publishing books in different genres still baffles me. Let’s say I have a fantasy writer that I adore, I pick up the next book and think, “Wow, this is absolutely nothing like anything else I’ve ever read by him.” Assuming the writing is still good, my impulse is not to throw the book across the room in disgust and disappointment. My impulse is to feel a deep sense of awe for the versatility and creativity of the writer.

There are still several months ahead before I need to put some serious thought into this, but I’ve never been a patient person. The nice thing about a collection of short stories is that you can get away with different genres of stories quite easily (as a matter of fact, it’s a particular irritation of mine when I pick up a collection and all the stories are variations on the same theme, excepting, of course, a collection put together around a certain theme), but what about when I have Bowlful of Bunnies finished and up and ready to be read and turn my attention to that other, second book I want to publish? Should it be general fiction, to help prevent the possibility of locking myself into a particular genre? If I were to publish something horror, something mystery, something science fiction, would that corner me in as a horror, a mystery, a science fiction writer? Are enough people even going to be reading it to care? Or should I just go ahead and write what feel right (har har), whatever it may be, and just follow my passion?

Naturally, every part of my being cries out that it should be the latter, to always just follow your heart, but what I’m worried about is that following your heart might not always be as effective as following your head…

I also want to take a moment to thank T.E. Schoenborn for recently following me and subscribing to the blog! Welcome aboard! Good to have you along! Everyone go and have a wonderful Saturday. I, of course, have to go to work, so wish me a swift shift and no irritating customers.


  1. I would say an author is whatever genre they publish most in…

    ….but really, nowadays, with writers wielding so much power online and generating followings…aren’t you just whatever you label yourself?

  2. Genres are like fish. There are many different kinds and they can be cooked using many different methods. I really love to cook flounder, lightly breaded and gently fried in a pan, however I also enjoy baking a good filet of salmon covered with dill and lemon slices. Just because a writer may write detective stories doesn’t mean they can’t write a good romance novel. As long as one understands the nuances of the genre, a skilled writer can be successful anywhere. I think the issue is more with readers that want to put the label on you, setting up expectations that each new work will be similar to the last.

  3. I think you should write whatever you feel like writing. There’s nothing wrong with writing in multiple genres (Michael Crichton certainly did!) because many of us READ in multiple genres. In fact, I just did a post today listing the four books that I’ve read more than twice. And they were all from different genres. I think it’s refreshing to read an author’s work and find that a book is quite different from other works by the same person. I say go for it. Write with your heart.

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