Genre Writer: Are You? Which One?

story genre

DO YOU CONSIDER yourself a genre writer?

I never ever set out to write in a particular style or genre. I always just… write. But since my blogging days commenced in 2013, I seem to have ventured into horror/ supernatural far more than any other genre, and even before posting on WordPress, my previous short stories often had horror elements.

How did that happen?!

Although I gravitate to twisted tales, or at least tales with a twist, I love writing about all kinds of subjects from science fiction, humour, thrillers, to sentimental stories of childhood innocence. Romance not so much! Although give me credit, I did at least one story loosely based on love (kind of).

Generally I don’t like categories, labels, pigeon holing etc. but it is helpful in describing what type of writer you are and gives people an idea of what your stories may entail, should they ask (they haven’t yet, not in real life lol).

So how did your stories evolve into what you currently write? Did you set out to write in a particular genre or has the genre found you?

36 Comments

  1. Like you I am also not fond genre writing, I love prose and poetry that is innovative and experimental. Anand Bose from Kerala

  2. Interesting question. I defer to a quote from one of my articles about this very subject:

    “One of the challenges I encountered when I began writing was classifying what genre my stories best fit into. Since my tales didn’t consistently fit into any one genre, I always dreaded being asked what genre I wrote in because I never had an answer. Then I discovered the existence of a genre known as speculative fiction and I immediately had an aha! moment. It was a perfect fit.”

    You can read the entire article here: http://pattisonblog.com/what-is-speculative-fiction-2/

    1. I find I have the same issue sometimes. Often a story will be part politics part sci fi or some other combo. I have a good grasp of what spec fic is now too so cheers for the linkage.
      “A good indicator that you’re reading Speculative Fiction is that there’s usually not a happy ending.” 《Memorable and a god way for me to solidify my concept of what spec fic is.

  3. I have dabbled mainly in Fantasy, Supernatural, Horror, and Mystery thus far, and I find that movies play a major role in what I write. For instance, I started writing my first mystery novel after watching the Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr.
    I believe it is because when I write, I play the story like a movie in my head; so if the visuals of a movie capture my attention, I get a compulsion to write something with those visuals. However, on the flip side, my first dabble in horror was spurred by devouring every Stephen King book I could get my hands on.
    Honestly, I don’t enjoy one genre more than the other, but I usually do set out with a genre in mind when I start a story.

  4. I have no clue what kinds of writer I am, I just know that I want to get better. I guess should decide on a genre though if I want to draw in more readers. Also I enjoy your puntastic user name.

  5. I started out with a detective/crime series, but my book of short stories ranges from paranormal to historical fiction. My latest book is a terrorism thriller. I find that my demographic shifts with each genre.

  6. I consider myself a fantasy and a science fiction writer. I’ve always loved writing in those genres. I have tried to write in other genres for the sake of experimentation, even romance (like you, I’m not a fan) but it didn’t come as easy to me. I suppose it’s all down to control over the material. To write in the ‘normal world’ or even a historic piece feels rather limiting to me. I have to conform to the accepted realities of the real world, whether past or present, but, in fantasy and science fiction, I have a bit more room to manoeuvre. I can set my own locations, my own laws, my own logic around the characters and that is way more fun. Even when I’m writing in ‘the real world’, I still need to make it an alternate ‘real world’ so it can suit my narrative (e.g. I can put in a convenient abandoned building) and it doesn’t feel right without a touch of something unreal (e.g. vampires).

    I do still experiment with other genres but I always go back to fantasy and science fiction. I just love immersing myself in a whole new environment and having the freedom to create something completely from scratch rather than conform to ‘real world’ norms.

  7. I don’t think I set out to write in a specific genre. When I first started writing in my early teens my stories were of the horror/fantasy genre. Things were dark and they were twisted. But my life was dark and twisted at that time. Now I can say I firmly write in the Fantasy/Adventure genre. Magic, quests, goals, swords. That sort of muck. There’s a bit of romance, There’s a bit of darkness (Okay, TAK has a LOT of darkness). I also dislike labelling but if I have to, this is what I would say.

  8. I’ve called myself a speculative fiction author for a couple of years now. That leaves me room to roam from science fiction to paranormal and the occasional foray into fantasy. Having said that, I also wrote a couple of murder shorts that have no speculative element in them. It might keep me from being famous, but I’m having a good time.

  9. Honestly, I’m simply a writer. I typically write stories that don’t fit neatly into a mold. Some of my stories are weird, others are amusing, but interestingly all of them seem to have a bit of the supernatural or syfy to them.

    All that matters to me is that a story entertains. If you like what I write, than fantastic. If you hate it, then no worries, I’m obviously not your cup of tea. There is a great big world out there with a lot of different people with different backgrounds, tastes, ideas, etc….there’s always someone who will love – or hate – what you do, so write on!

    1. In general terms I’m with you. I write, plain and simple, when I’m writing I don’t think to myself..’This is a horror story!’
      As long as what I write is of a high standard that’s all I care about really. And the same goes for readers really, they want a good story. Plain and simple.
      Thanks for stopping over 🙂

  10. I wrote different things in high school: poetry, quirky Po-esque novelettes that always had an element of mysticism… Once I tried to write a strictly sci fi novel about humans landing on some planet elsewhere, but I didn’t even show it to anyone, because did’t think it was ‘serious’. That was in the 9th grade or something. Then a long break of professional writing. Now, that I am (a little) older and wiser, I realize that ‘not-so-serious’ stories are ok. Now I mostly write science fiction. I mean, what I write turns out as a genre, because I want to tell specific kind of stories. But I also wrote something in a more of a legal crime drama genre, and I hate to say, it reminds me my work too much, so that never evolved in anything past first 2k words. Maybe someday… I think bending a genre is cool, but we need to remember that the ultimate goal of it is to entertain, and people have specific entertainment preferences, like in food, or romantic attractions. Whatever writers dish up, must be palatable to at least someone out there… I think that’s the main purpose of a genre. It is not a restrictive prison guard who keeps us in line, it is more of a cook book with some great suggestions that can be altered to your liking (vegan, gluten free etc.), but they save us time on inventing the wheel.

    1. Thanks for stopping by.
      I think genre can be inhibitive if a book spans several, merely from a marketing pov. And genre bending is more likely to succeed if an author is well known already, they can get away with it as their name sells.
      Sometimes it’s easy to forget that writing and marketing don’t mix that well. Maybe there needs to be a random book section in stores? Not that that would help a great deal.
      Ultimately people do often read certain genres, you make a good point on that, so sticking loosely to one is ideal in some ways.

      1. True. Sad but true.Or maybe not sad. As a reader or a viewer, I am a harsh judge myself. I know what I want and I have a short attention span for the rest. What can you do..

  11. The problem is, there is no way of compiling a list of genres that would encompass everything. Therefore, a lot of books get left out. For example, my first novel, “The Kudzu Kid,” is about a weekly newspaper in rural Virginia. It contains a romance, some gangsters, a few witches and a murder, but those are all peripheral to the main plot. Therefore, it is not a romance, a mystery (cozy or otherwise), or a thriller. It is not supernatural or futuristic, and contains no vampires or serial killers. I did get it published, but not before being told by an prospective agent: “We really like your book, but we don’t think we can sell it because it has no genre.” That, I think, is the proverbial tail wagging the proverbial dog.

    1. Great point. I will have that issue with my second book I’m going to publish – it doesn’t have a neat genre to slot into, and I can already tell it’s not going to be easy to find a buyer due to that very fact which is frustrating. Unless there’s immigrant fiction? Haven’t seen it in my local Waterstone’s….lol

      1. Is this immigrant novel about a particular era or is it modern day? Novels that don’t neatly fit into any one category do become difficult to sell and market. Best of luck.

      2. Current day. I might have a resident vampire turn up intermittently between chapters lol. It is 90% finished but genre will be foremost in my mind when editing.
        Thanks man.

      3. The only reason to include a vampire is to get it into the vampire genre lol. There is no real place for one in my story. Maybe if i mention the word vampire once that counts? :^)

      4. Oh, I misunderstood you. No it wouldn’t. Have you thought of a tagline for this novel? Or do you have it summarized in a sentence? These things may guide you to the appropriate genre. Best of luck.

      5. Can you describe it a certain way for the marketing purposes? When you advertise, stick to something, and then add: with the elements of… But Picking a dominant genre may help.

      6. Yeah I’m guessing that can be done. If there is a dominant genre or at least something ‘marketable’ (whatever that is) then that could be used as the basis of promotion and then any other themes can be expanded on I guess. The joys of selling 🙂

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