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Dabbling in Genres

Look at me, finally getting into updating this blog a bit more regularly. Or well, trying to at least. Forgive me. I’m still settling into my work-from-home schedule and my new job. But I’m trying to carve out time in my week to blog at least twice.

Setting achievable goals. That’s the first step in success, right? Or at least one of them…

Anyway, I thought today I would focus on a topic that is completely writing-based, rather than an update on my life (which is starting to settle into not quite boring, but not exactly exciting).

Dabbling in different genres.

I’m still very new to this professional author thing, obviously. I’ve only sold 24 copies of my book and am still trying to figure out the whole marketing thing (a topic for another post… someday… if I ever figure it out, which is doubtful). But as part of that, I’m also trying to decide what is going to be my genre. Which is hard, because I enjoy writing just about everything. And my mind is always all over the place when it comes to book ideas.

A WIP fantasy

In my early years of writing fiction, everything was fantasy. I was a huge fan of Lord of the Rings (truth time - it was mostly because of the movies, but I did read the books, thank you very much). I was one of the original TwiHards or Twilighters - whichever you prefer (I don’t really care). I was late to the Harry Potter game, but made up for it in late high school and college, even though I was in the prime demographic when they first came out in 1998 (I blame it on growing up in rural Oklahoma… we were late to everything cool). I devoured the Southern Vampire series in college and was even a True Blood fan. Hence, this was reflected in my writing. Though I didn’t really dive into writing anything remotely steamy until my early adulthood. (Still working on that and I’m nearing 40…)

Anyway, I didn’t really start diverging from this until adulthood. Most of my unfinished works are fantasy, though I tried my hand at a few others - romance (mostly because I thought I could make good money as a romance writer - shit, it’s hard to write), drama, and so on. But nothing really hit until I wrote “Something Wicked.” Honestly, I never thought of myself as a mystery/thriller writer. I loved reading thrillers, but I never thought I could write that genre. So much research and plotting. You have to really plan ahead and know what’s going on at all times, and I’m bad at losing track of stuff since I do a lot of editing and re-writing as I write. So, I was incredibly surprised when “Something Wicked” not only popped into my head, but I finished it in record time (about eight months). I had started a mystery/thriller a couple years before but never finished it, thinking I wasn’t ready (“The Whitehall Affair”). And I got distracted by other projects since I couldn’t seem to plot out the ending. I also wrote a Criminal Minds fanfic that was more of an exercise of “Could I write this?” than anything.

I was even more surprised when it got shortlisted for the Wattys 2021.

At that point, I sat back and thought it over. Was this the genre I was meant to write? At this point, I was still of the mind that authors had to focus on one genre and once established, then they could branch out into other things. Now, I get this. You have to build an audience and it helps to be known for something, be it fantasy, steamy romance, or mysteries. Agatha Christie wasn’t off writing fantasy books. I’d be surprised to see a cozy romance by Gillian Flynn. She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named didn’t write mysteries until HP had been well and fully established. But at the same time, I wasn’t ready to only write mystery/thriller, even if it looked like the thing that I might be good at.

So, here we are today. I’m still trying to build a brand, but my finished work and WIPs are all over the place. “Something Wicked” and “The Whitehall Affair” are very much in mystery/thriller territory, but I’ve been working on “Into the Fog,” which, while it does have mystery/thriller elements, is definitely more supernatural/paranormal/urban fantasy (seriously, websites, CAN WE SETTLE ON A SET PARAMETER OF GENRES??!!) I have a few more fantasy and urban fantasy books that I’d like to finish. And well, I do have a couple more mystery/thrillers in the pipelines. Plus I’ve got “Wrecked by You,” which is romance? Dark romance? And “Wide Open Spaces” which is definitely romance.

It’s so hard for me to settle. Motivation and inspiration hit me at different times for different projects. Sometimes I’m in the mood to write something dark and gripping. Sometimes I want to do a happy fluffy scene. Other times I need to do something dramatic. Or steamy. And they don’t always fit into the same book.

Do I really need to settle on a genre? I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m ready yet, to be honest. I do notice that some writers develop different pen names when they go out of their established genre to differentiate and I get it, but I feel like I might end up with 20 pen names that way.

Personally, I don’t see an issue with this. The writers I follow on Wattpad tend to have a variety of works that while they do have a common theme - they might all be romance or might be steamy - they do vary. Sometimes it’s a fantasy. Sometimes it’s a sports romance. Sometimes it’s a mafia romance. I’m not sure I want to be known by one thing. I want people to enjoy my books and know me for good stories and solid writing.

What do you think? Do you dabble as a writer? Should we set a firm genre for all our books if we don’t want to? I’d love to hear from you!

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