Friday, February 18, 2011

Switching Between Genres

I realize that most published authors chose one genre - I presume the one that makes most sense in terms of critical or financial success, or the one that complements their background. 

However, I am just a writer who hopes to be published someday.  Is there a good reason why I should not experiment with various genres?  What if I write literary fiction and follow it up with a YA novel?  Could that "inconsistency" turn agents off?  How about publishers?

I feel drawn to both literary fiction and certain types of YA.  Literary allows me to burrow deep inside the mind of my character, to feel his conflict, to live through his journey.  It is the action of the mind not the body that attracts me and keeps me writing.

At the same time, I keep devouring certain YA novels (I just could not put Wintergirls/Halse Anderson down).  Many of the YA novels I gravitate to, and the one I am working on myself, focus a lot on the character's development and psyche and, thus, are literary in nature.  (At this point I query why I,  a not so young adult, still read about the struggles of teens, most of which I never experienced myself - but that is another post).

Any thoughts on whether to mix it up or keep it simple?


  1. When I started writing, I wrote strictly horror. Stephen King was my reason for breathing. I got a couple short stories published and thought I'd never write or enjoy anything other than horror. Until I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It wasn't long until I was devouring YA and MG novels. Since, I've read any YA book I could get my hands on and wrote my first YA paranormal MS. After reading the Hunger Games, I decided to try YA dystopian and am in the process of writing that. Lately I've been reading paranormal romance and I'll probably try that next. I say follow your heart and write what you love. Your writing will be the better for it because it's something you've immersed yourself into and a genre that you've learned from. Many agents tout representing the author, not the book, so acquiring an agent will only mean more areas or genres of possible publication to inquire!

  2. I agree with Nathalie, and I too have grown into YA for a number of reasons. I'm noticing mainstream authors such as James Patterson and others are writing YA likely due to the demand (and not so much for passion). We all have lifelong voracious reading habits, and vacillate between genres, however my reasons for loving YA come from the strength, resiliency, intelligence, etc. of the younger protagonists. I think the more you establish yourself, the easier it will be to go between genres.

  3. Thank you Nathalie and thank you Beth Elisa - what a relief! I find some common elements in most of the genres I like and I think that is what I gravitate to and aspire to in my own writing.
    I also enjoy some thrillers (Dan Brown, Steve Berry) but I have no interest (yet) in writing one - although the stories are interesting, fast-paced, and fun, I miss the emotional journey of the character.

  4. I write several different genres because I just write what comes out and it isn't always the same stuff. So I just go with it. Whatever the muse says needs to come out, comes out. :)