Thursday, October 30, 2014

How did you choose your genre?



 

First off, I’d like to thank my fellow Boarders for their amazing posts! I’m loving this blog so far. It’s an honor and a privilege to write alongside you. Okay, brown nosing session officially over…. Guess it’s my turn to chime in, huh?

Well, okay. Since the theme of our blog is weekly thoughts from your friendly neighborhood genres, I thought it might be nice to find out how writers go about choosing their genres. I mean, it’s kind of a big decision, right? Given how much time we spend with our projects, it’s got to be somewhere between who we’re going to marry and what kind of car we’re going to drive. 

I know a lot of writers write within the genres they enjoy reading, but there had to be some aha moment that made you say, “Hey! This is the kind of stuff I want to write. I can do this. Now, where’s my pen?” 

As backward as this might sound, I got the inspiration to write Middle Grade (MG) after reading an MG book that I actually didn’t like. When I finished, I was like, “This thing got published? It sold millions of copies? I can write better than this. I mean, how hard can writing a book for kids be?” Pretty dang hard, it turns out.

MG books still have to have characters with goals, and plots with plot points, and setting, and voice and all the other literary elements that make books worth reading. I had a lot to learn. Still, I wouldn't trade my whacky genre for the world. There’s just something about harnessing your inner twelve-year-old (not much of a reach for me!) and letting him run wild on the pages of your manuscript. Keeps me young and from taking myself too seriously. I also like the idea that I could someday inspire younger audiences to read, something I wish I would have done more of when I was a kid.

Anyway, enough about me. How about you? How did you choose your genre? 

Did you decide on the category first, then come up with the idea? Or did the idea hit you, then you discovered the genre later? Was there a book or series that inspired you to write in a particular area? Perhaps your writing blends or transcends genres. Maybe you refuse to be held down by the man, and thus choose not to label your writing at all. Or maybe your genre chose you... Either way, I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for stopping by!

21 comments:

  1. ha, Boarders! we should totally start calling ourselves that. great post, Jonathan!!! so my answer will be pretty long winded but here goes: I was first inspired when my English prof told me I write exactly like Sophie Kinsella. Up till that point I'd always just written to write, not thinking about genre. She encouraged me to read Sophie's chick-lit books. Then I wrote a chick-lit story about a 22 yr old only to find out that wasn't really a thing yet (New Adult hadn't come along yet). So I started writing YA. I got agented and she told me my voice is really more NA. But my story's plot is better for YA. This is actually one of my biggest struggles, picking a genre! I like writing from the teen perspective--I like the romances better in YA too. But it seems a lot of YA voice is kind of moody (my characters are not moody) So, yes, genre is an ongoing struggle for me! My agent says I can just write both, which I'm working on now. I actually have a YA MS in progress as well as a NA. My brain hurts.

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  2. Thanks Beth! And surf's up! So you were writing NA before there was NA huh? Well, I hear it's all the rage now, so you were totally ahead of the curb on that one. Isn't it nutty/frustrating that there seem to be genres within genres (within genres)? I guess I write upper-MG, but not sure... In the end, I think if a book is good, it will find an audience. But I hear when you're looking for an agent, or your agent is looking for a publisher, it's a lot easier if the book fits neatly in a certain category. Good luck with all of it! And sorry about your brain. When that happens to me, I just give it a day off:)

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  3. I don't know about "Boarders" as our eponym. Smacks too much of a failed book chain or something. I prefer "Leandranauts" or "Giarratanotomatons."

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    1. Good catch Steve! Definitely not the kind of association we're looking for. I like Leandranauts though!

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    2. Ugh, please no! ;) I would volunteer Crossers, but I think that could be taken wrong... =D

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    3. How about The The-ers? Very cryptic and probably never been done before...

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    4. Um, well...I'll give you points for thinking outside the box, lol!

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  4. Even a bad book can be a good prompt.
    I write science fiction because it's the genre I enjoy, both in books and movies.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Alex! My current WIP is MG Sci-Fi, so I'm right there with ya. Love me those stars and planets.

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  5. I want to be called someone's 'bookie.' My 'bookie" sets me up with the good reads. Ooh, see what I did there?
    I was a YA librarian so writing YA is a natural fit cuz I love it. And mysteries are my favorite genre to read. Add in a dash of 20th century history and I'm a sucker. Throw in a ghost for good measure.

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    1. Nice, Kimberly! I love reading YA, but I think I lack the maturity to write it;) I like ghosts too. I almost wrote a Halloween themed post for the blog today, but it just sort of fell apart, like a slasher killed it or something. Anyway, maybe next year!

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    2. I love being one of your "bookies"! (I actually used to refer to the local YA librarian who always bought anything I was sniffing after as my dealer. It was like, if you wanted something, you went to her and she always found a way to get it for you.)

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  6. I decided to start writing after finishing Breaking Dawn(hey, those books sucked me in and were entertaining, which is what I want in a read, so no judgers!). :) All my story ideas have so far arrived w/teen protagonists. I won't say that I'll never write a story w/an adult mc, b/c yanno, never say never and all that. And I do enjoy reading adult fic every now and then as a way to break out of my norm. And in closing, you do MG awesome, Jonathan! Seriously.

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    1. Wow, Leandra! Thanks for the compliment! Ditto on your YA! Love, love, love your Work In Progress. Okay, didn't I say the brown nosing session was over? Oh well.

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  7. I'm the writer where the genre finds me. When I wrote my first novel, I actually didn't think about what the genre would be until I went through the publishing process. My second novel is a sequel, so that was a no-brainer. On my third... I'm struggling to define the right fit. It's more suspense than women's fiction, but it's not a 'crime solver' novel or what I would call a thriller. It's a story that covers many years through flashbacks, and for the majority of the story my primary characters are in the YA/NA age. However, the topic is more appropriate for the older reader. Ugh. This is why I sometimes default to commercial fiction. At this point I have to write what comes to me and not force a story just to fit a genre - I'm too eclectic for that (in pretty much everything I do, not just writing). Or, maybe I'm just having an identity crisis??

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    1. Thanks Carrie! You chose wisely... By just writing you've given yourself one less thing to worry about. 99 problems and the genre at one! Your current project sounds really interesting. Best of luck with it! And don't feel bad. Everyone should have an identity crisis every once and a while. Reminds us who we really are!

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    2. 99 problems and the genre ain't one (not "at" one...)!

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  8. That is familiar with me “Hey! This is the kind of stuff I want to write. I can do this. Now, where’s my pen?” ......... but then after that nothing happens :-(

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Haddock! I see from your Google profile that you're originally from Mumbai. I traveled there last year (for my day job) and had a great time visiting Gandi's house and the Elephant Caves.Such a cool city.

      I'm sorry to hear that nothing happens after your inspiration hits.Sad-face indeed. Not to get too deep on you here --as I often like to keep things light-- but you might want to check out this book I read once:

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Secrets-Prolific-Procrastination-Perfectionism-ebook/dp/B006J7BZ8E

      It made me realize that sometimes I expect a little too much out of myself when it comes to writing (and life in general). Sometimes the best thing we newbies can do is give ourselves permission to mess up. Best of luck!

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  9. Most often, I fall into the urban fantasy and paranormal romance categories because those are what I love. I don't pick them before I start writing, though. I'm a character writer, and I always get character ideas before anything else. Once I start writing, the story genre then becomes clear.

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    1. Thanks, Christine! That's something I really hadn't thought about. Character-driven genre. Sounds like a good way to go though. That way you don't have to yield to the pressures of a certain genre and you can just go wherever your MC wants you to go. Appreciate the insight! Sounds like you chose wisely too...

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