12 June 2009

Writing Across Genres

I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of a genre-whore ;)

*double checks that Mum doesn't read this blog* No? Okay. Good. O:)

Yup, definitely a genre-whore. I'll read pretty much anything and everything, and mostly enjoy it, too. And this extends to my writing.

Sure, I don't write in quite as many genres as I read, but my work does run the whole gamut from MG to adult, from fast-paced paranormal to nearly-epic fantasy. Some stories might even be classed as science fantasy.

Two things have made me think about this today: first of all, this article by Lauren Baratz-Logsted on the Query Tracker blog (although it was posted a while ago, I only read it yesterday), and second of all, this post on Authoress's blog.

The first article I find interesting because it's a direct contradiction of everything we've ever heard from agents - or is it?

On the whole, the message from agents (and other sources) seems to be: pick the genre you love most and concentrate on that. Don't waste effort trying to write across genres unless you're going to treat it like building two careers; remember that these days your branding as an author plays a major role in attracting sales; writing across genres can dilute your genre.

It's all sound advice, I suppose. It's logical. But the first article seems to suggest that not only is the opposite possible, it can also be successful. Lauren attributes the fact that she is able to write full time (after a comparatively short period of time since she decided to write seriously) to the fact that she has written across multiple genres. To date, she's published in adult comedy; historical suspense; chick lit; serious YA; humorous YA; tween; and MG. That's quite a range.

But there is also one other key factor, I think: by the end of 2009, Lauren will have published 15 books in 6 years. Fifteen. In SIX years. Now that's prolific. And I can't help but wonder if perhaps that's part of it; you can write everything you like if you do it quick enough that readers only following one of your strands will still get their yearly fix. Hmm. Read the article yourself and tell me what you think.

The second article is the other side of the writing-in-multiple-genres coin that we don't often think about, or hear spoken about: Authoress, coming to the end of her current novel, is thinking agents - and thinking genres. She refuses to give up on her MG fantasy that she's currently editing/shopping; she's determined to see the new novel, YA dystopic fantasy, sell too. But targetting only agents to which both projects will appeal... Well, that's going to limit her options quite a bit. And what if none of them bite?

It's an interesting consideration, and one that I can see I'm going to have to consider myself in years (months?) to come. I am going to write adult and YA; I know that. I know that's possible, too, since I know quite a few fantasy authors off-hand that do so. I also know it's possible to write across the whole gamut of fantasy/science fiction; Orson Scott Card is one that springs to mind. Is it, however, possible to do both? And, most importantly - with the same agent?

Questions, questions. It will be interesting to see the eventual results.

In the meantime - tell me. I'd like to get to know my readers more. Those of you I know, surprise me with your closet stories. Lurkers, consider this your official de-lurk invitation. Jump in the comments and tell me: what genre/s do you write?


Princess Emma said...

I write a lot of paranormal YA. Though sometimes I'll write fantasy and sci-fi YA

ElanaJ said...

I'm a speculative fiction gal. A YA speculative fiction gal. I guess I could write MG, but I haven't yet. Adult market? Not for me.

And I do think you can write in more than one genre, but should probably choose one whilst getting started.

Bahnree said...


Since I've started writing "seriously," I've written fantasy, science fiction, horror, paranormal and historical. Pretty much all of it has been YA, with a few exceptions.

Yunaleska said...

I love writing various genres!

Although would YA be one big genre, with sub genre of sci-fi/fantasy etc? Cos that's where I seem to be heading...

They are dfeinitely all different. I could have interesting times with my future agent...although I'd love to be that prolific (and am planning on making that attempt!) At least 2 novels a year :)

Danyelle said...

I mostly write YA fantasy, but have one that I'm not even sure which genre to put it in. While I may branch out into other places, I think I have more of a YA voice than an adult one.

Liana Brooks said...

Science fiction, what other serious genre is there to consider?

But I do dabble in comic fantasy. Not normal fantasy, but the spoofing-everything-fantasy fantasy. That's more for my own amusement than anything else.

I'd love to be published in both, but I'm focusing on sci-fi for now. Once I have a few of those sold I can approach Super Agent o' Mine with the idea that I wouldn't mind seeing my name on another shelf.

Time will tell.

beth said...

Good point-- being a quick writer might be the key to that cross-genre writing thing. I'd never thought of it that way before, but that's logical.

Me? I flipflop between MG and YA, but usually dabble somewhere on the SFF scale.

Gay Degani said...

Crossing genres is tricky, but seems to work really well with speculative.

I write mystery and suspense and try to add elements of family saga and historical. Piccoult does this very well. Maybe I need that ghostly element???

Anyway, I think in today's writing world if a piece of work is well-written and different genre conventions serve the story, it can lead to a very original and engaging read. Thinking here of "The Lovely Bones," in particular.

Merc said...

I write all sorts of things, and regardless of what anyone says to the contrary about sticking to one genre, etc, I will not STOP writing in all the genres I love (fantasy, sci-fi, horror). Ya can't make me. %-)

Since my main novel genre is various types of fantasy, though, I'm pretty sure I'd hit it off with urban or dark fantasy. I'm sporadic about novels in other genres. Which is why I adore short stories and am a total short story addict. O:)

But even if/when I published novels in one genre and got a name off that, it won't stop me writing anything I please. Mwhahaha.

~Merc, who, yes, is aware of how much work is involved and the probabilities and everything else, but regardless does not see herself ever being able to stick to one project at a time as everyone will quickly learn and have to deal with O:)

Snazel said...


I've only started writing "seriously" for a year and a half, so I'm not sure if I've marked out entirely what to write yet. :D But I've been doing Science Fiction, Historical Fiction and Mystery/Adventure, and I want to try Fantasy. And it's all started out YA so far, though at least one story got darker quickly, and the characters insist on being badly behaved. :D

Inkblot said...

Wow, thanks for all the delurking love, everybody! :) And I'm amused that pretty much everyone is spec fic B-) I guess like attracts like?

Emma - Nice to meet you :) I /like/ paranormal YA. Let me know when you're published and I'll track you down %-) (yes, when :))

Elana - Yeah, the consensus seems to be to pick one to start with. And I'm always interested to meet people who write only YA; a lot of my so-called 'adult' novels are so borderline that I can't quite wrap my head around where YA ends and adult begins!

Bahree - *delurking cookies for you* Another YA spec fic-er! Huzzah! :)

Yuna - I'm not sure what the 'offical' stance on YA is; agents seem to list it as a genre of its own, but it's a bit hazy, since YA can be fantasy, sci fi, mystery, mainstream, and all the other genres too... So does an agent who reps YA but not fantasy accept a fantasy YA novel? It's enough to make my head spin o.O

Dany - I dunno. I think your voice is one of those lovely in-between ones that will end up on both shelves, personally ;)

Li - I admire your sci fi propensities; I'd /like/ to write it, but it requires too much brain power O:)

Beth - yeah, I think I'll need to learn to work on that whole 'speedy writing' thing...

Gay - hmm, interesting idea that certain genres cross better than others. I totally agree, of course (and your work sounds interesting) - but my muse is now plotting to see what the most unlikely combination of genres would be and how to do it o.O

Merc - perhaps YOU ought to try that ^ :P Yeah, I can see your novels going urban/dark fantasy and staying there. As for shorts - who cares what you write? As in, so long as your publisher is getting their novels at the agreed-upon time, I don't think they'll mind WHAT else you write ;)

Snazel - *delurking cookies* for you, to :o) I hear you on the 'finding your genre' thing; I spent a couple of years trying to write epic fantasy, only to realise it really wasn't me o.O And yeah, I'm hearing you on the misbehaving characters too... lol!

abitosunshine said...

A newbe lurker here..:-) I think of myself mostly as a poet, though I often write prose to writing prompts and challenges. And yes, I write, and read, across genres.

Amy Laurens said...

Hi, Ruth! Welcome to Inkfever :o) Poetry - very cool. I admire people who can write poetry. My attempts are... well, lame is probably the best word O:) :D

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