Good gracious! Okay, not really. I mean, those are “g” words, obviously, but not quite the words in keeping with our theme (which hopefully has to do with writing and/or reading). Can you tell I’m stalling for time? Because I can’t think of a “g” word that fits? No, I’m not going to blog about G-strings, though those appear on guitars and in erotica, depending on the context.
As in, taking a chance on a new genre, whether writing or reading (oh, did you see that? GENRE! G! WOOOO!).
Anyway, here’s the thing. Most fiction writers tend to gravitate toward a particular genre for their own work, and often a particular format. And most of us tend to stick to that genre and format, especially if we’ve gotten some good feedback on it. We get comfortable in that genre; hopefully we get even better as we continue to write in it and no, there is nothing at all wrong with doing that. But I’m one of those people who likes to push the envelope a little.
Part of being a writer is digging deeper, writing vaster arrays of characters, exploring different plots and subplots — things you can, indeed, do in one genre. But how about you take a little GAMBLE and try your hand at a different genre? Maybe something you’ve always enjoyed reading but never really considered writing. I’m published in four genres: mystery (thriller-types and police procedure), science fiction, romance, and erotica. I’ve written novels, short stories, and shorter stories. I like challenging myself and learning different techniques to apply to different fiction formulas so I can give them my own take. I’m also trying to get better at writing shorter stories (as in, 2000 words or fewer), because I think anyone who can slam you with an awesome tale in 2000 words or less has mad writing skillz and I’m always trying to add those to my own writing toolbox.
Which leads me to my second point about GAMBLING in this context. READ. You’ll hear this advice from some of the top writers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. If you want to be a better writer, READ EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING. I read across genres. I read lots of nonfiction (LOVE travel writing and history), and lots of magazines (some of the best writing I’ve come across is in mags like Outside and Rolling Stone). I read politics and culture that are not my own and ideological tracts that I strongly disagree with. I read classics and pulp fiction. Graphic novels and poetry. I’ll read genres in fiction that I don’t have much experience with just because I think it’s important to stretch my boundaries, in both writing and reading, and if you’re a writer, those two activities are generally inseparable.
So that’s my G-word advice. GAMBLE. Dip your toe in some different genres. You might like what you find.
Happy writing, happy reading!