Last week I wrote a post on Why We Write (don’t worry if you missed it you can find it here). I thought this week I would extend this even further and look at Why We Write What We Write (whoa that’s a mouthful). If the meaning was lost among all that alliteration what I mean by that is how we select a genre for our novels.
For most people (and I stress most not everyone will fit into these categories) the what we write fits into one of two categories:
1. We write what we like
2. We write what we know
For some lucky souls they will write what they like and what they know.
Okay so I guess we should look at each of these individually:
1. We Write What We Like
How do you know what you like? You like what you read. If you walk into a book store (if you are lucky enough to find one that is still open) what section to you gravitate towards? Does the romance section lure your affection? Do you find yourself hunting for the latest mystery? Who are your favourite Authors? No doubt they are the ones you are aspiring to be like.
Of course you could always be like me and not really have a favourite genre. I am an eclectic reader. Thriller, Horror, Paranormal Romance I like to spread my affections around :). So does that mean that I should try my hand at writing multiple genres? Not at all, but I will get to that in a bit.
2. We Write What We Know
Ever wondered why the main characters in virtually all of John Grisham’s books are lawyers? Yes that’s right – John Grisham was a lawyer before he decided to try his hand at writing. Often writers of historical fiction have degrees in history. It is pretty simple if there is an area you know lots about, no matter how insignificant it might seem, not only will you be able to write realistically in those areas without requiring months of research, but odds are you will enjoy it as well. I am a scientist and even when it isn’t intentional, tidbits of scientific knowledge filter their way into my books.
Okay, so we are writing what we like and what we know. So now you probably have a list of about 3-4 genres that you could write in (and that doesn’t include the hundreds of subgenres available). Here is the bad news – you need to pick one. WHAT?!? Yes, that’s right. You need to pick a single genre, your own niche in the market and concentrate on that. Why? Because if you are going to have a ‘brand’ as an author, readers need to be able to associate your name with your genre. Think back to my John Grisham example, I can guarantee if you see his name on a novel you automatically know that it is going to be a legal thriller. Am I right? He has a brand.
Now, before you come back at me with the ‘I am never going to be a best selling author like John Grisham, I’m sure people won’t mind if I switch around between genres’. Are you sure? How would you feel if you read three thrillers from a particular author – that of course you loved because you have just picked up that author’s newly released fourth book – but hang on, it’s a romance!! Blech… And guess what? Now you are probably not going to buy book five even if the author has gone back to the thriller genre.
How do you pick a single genre out of the 3-4 you have narrowed it down to? Get ready for me to contradict myself. There may be better ways to acheive this but I would say – try writing all of them. Now maybe it isn’t the best idea to write an entire novel in 4 different genres, but perhaps try your hand at short stories in a range of genres and see what feels right. What do you enjoy writing? In what genre to the words literally flow onto the paper without you even having to think about it? And that, my friends, is what you are meant to right..oops… I mean write.
Do you write in one genre or multiple? Do you agree with my advice or would you like to meet me behind the bikeshed after school? (Just kidding I have a pathetic right-hook and I’m a bit of a fraidy-cat). What do you like to read? Do you write in the same genre? I would love to hear from you.
Okay, so now I am off to follow my own advice.
Oh… no wait. Almost forgot my ROW80 check in. My Round of Words in 80 Days campaign (refer here if you have no idea what I am talking about) is going great guns. Well sort of. My main goal to write a minimum of 500 words a day for 80 days is still going great. And this week I added in the additional goal that for the next few weeks (we only have just over 3 weeks to go!) I want to write 5000+ words for the week too. This week I didn’t comment on as many blogs as I would have liked and I still have finished reading We Are Not Alone but for the most part I think I did okay!
Word Counts for the week:
Thurs – 583
Fri – 606
Sat – 711
Sun – 1073
Mon – 539
Tues – 568
Wed – 1011
Total for the week = 5091
I hope you are doing well with your ROW80 goals as well. See you all next week.