G is for…

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.

Hmmm.

I know!

GAMBLING.

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!

–andi

6 comments

  1. First of all, I LOVE Outside mag. It’s fabulous. And I agree, read everything all the time. I’ve written love stories, horror stories, erotica, S/F, fantasy. One thing I’ve discovered is that the genre doesn’t really matter if the story is good. The genre is like the frame, but if the picture isn’t painted well, the frame is kind of pointless, right?

    Great post as usual, thanks!

    GG (must be my day!) 😉

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  2. And I agree with your post, Andi, which is how my new book, THE SECRET OF LIGHTHOUSE POINTE, is a Gothic Romantic Suspense, in the style of the 60s and 70s old Gothics. I even really stretch the writing muscles and dive into multiple POVs, something I don’t normally do.

    However….there are limits for me. I will never dip my toes or anything else, and write erotica. Tried it once for a Bella After Dark horror anthology and thought I was going to die. It was a real struggle. The editor kept saying “More explicit. More explicit!” Not for me. LOL.

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  3. A great (see there’s another “g” word!) reminder, Andi. I recently finished a short story in a genre I had never written in before, and the fear at the outset was overshadowed by the exuberance as I found myself writing in wonderful new ways.

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  4. Trying a new genre is stepping outside of your comfort zone, but sometimes when we step out, we discover that we like the view! I enjoy trying new genres. It gives me the chance to find out if I can actually do it.

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  5. Excellent choice for the letter “G”. I’m stepping outside my comfort zone for novel #6, Slingshot – I’ll be writing in the first person and it’s a mystery, rather than a romance. I’m not saying my bounty hunter won’t fall for a girl, but the story is more about her and her escapades overall than the budding romance. I’m partly nervous, but mostly excited about this new project.

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