Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Genre Hopping


When I started writing fiction, I was drawn to YA. But within this genre, I can't be pinned down. I've tinkered with urban fantasy, dystopian, and historical romance. I have no idea what will tempt me next. When a story comes to me, it doesn't pay attention to what sub-genre it's in.

I have no problems with stepping outside the realm of YA if that's where my story leads me.

Some authors stay within the confines of their genre. Some may step here and there. Laurie Halse Anderson comes to mind--though she's solidly in the realm of children's lit, she's done picture books, middle grade, and YA, in both contemporary and historical settings.

In your writing, do you tend to stick to one genre, and stay put there? Or do you also genre-hop?

Remember to take a minute to check out this week's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog post by Danyelle Leafty on writerly habits! I posted last week, and the week before was Laura Diamond. Next week will be the oh-so-lovely Zoe Courtman!

62 comments:

aspiring_x said...

oh man, i have ideas within many different genres but most of them fall into the categories of YA and MG (or could be adjusted to do so). nathan bransford has written about how it is important to build an audience, to not genre-hop too far.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I'm both picture book and mid-grade, and my mid-grades are pretty different from one another.

With the emphasis on branding, I sometimes worry that I've painted too broadly (ie- my editor loves this first book, but will she like the next ms., which is completely different?).

Still, I'm creating what I enjoy. It's a hard call, though.

Candyland said...

I tend to only write darker, edgier stuff. I can't comprehend paranormal or anything like that.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Over the years my genres have changed around, but one thing I notice looking back is there's always an element of suspense - even when I try writing something that isn't supposed to be suspense.

Ted Cross said...

My first book is fantasy, but its prequel is sci-fi. It all makes perfect sense once you know the whole story.

Vicki Rocho said...

I'm women's fiction with this one, but YA is probably next. Itching to go lighter.

j.m. neeb said...

This may not be the most marketable way of going about things, but I think it's best to just write the story and not worry too much about the genre upfront.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I genre hop! :)
But all my stories seem to have some magic and supernatural influences in them. I get too much of reality as it is. ;)

Kelly said...

I would love to be an author to successfully cross genres.
I first wrote children's poetry. Then moved to picture book manuscripts. Now I am close to finishing my first middle grade.

Jemi Fraser said...

This ms is a YA Steampunk. My previous ms was an adult romantic suspense novel. :)

I read widely - so I can see me writing widely too!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

*waves* Hi, I'm back from hols. :)

I haven't genre hopped yet, but I'm keen to give it a whirl. Like you say, it's all about the story. I think if the story comes to you, then it dictates the genre it is written in. :)

storyqueen said...

I genre hop..but all within the children's realm.

I think you just have to follow the story wherever it goes.

shelley

Joanne said...

I write mostly women's fiction, but do have a memoir manuscript too. Though its audience might be pretty close to the women's fiction work too.

Maria Zannini said...

I'm a tinkerer too, though I especially love dystopian fiction.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm a hopper. Can't help it. I write what fires me up. So far that's mostly speculative fiction and usually YA. But I've written a picture book, started an adult fantasy and love writing haiku.
I know we're supposed to come up with a "brand" so we are more marketable. That rule doesn't apply to already established authors like Anderson, Gaiman, Yolan. But the truth is that each of them has a distinct voice, even when they write in different genres.

Melody said...

I've always been MG or YA, and I have have a feeling I'll always stay there - at least for a long while. However, when it comes to sub-genre, I'm all over the place. Mostly fantasy romance and dystopian, but I've tried my hand at historical, too. The only thing I do not write seriously is non-fiction. Never.

Carol Kilgore said...

I write suspense for the most part. Always with a romance included. I'm currently thinking about my next manuscript, and while it will still be suspense, I think it's going to be much lighter in tone. We'll see.

sarahmullengilbert said...

My brain can't stay put in one genre! Most ideas are middle grade, but some YA or picture books will sneak in. Luckily, the PB ideas are usually really bad, so the actual WIPs are more focused :)

Amparo Ortiz said...

I've written paranormal romance and am now working on an urban fantasy. I've got plenty of ideas for other genres in YA, as well. So yeah, I'm pretty promiscuous :)

Mohamed Mughal said...

I don't think I have a genre.
But I don't have genre-envy either. I'm happy with the themes and styles that I'm producing I'm not at all disconcerted that they don't fit a label.

Janna Qualman said...

I see how it could be easy; so much about many genres are drawing.

So far, though, since I found my women's fiction niche, it's been easy to stick with it.

Finding our place is important, but our place doesn't have to be at just one location. You know?

Kenda said...

MG historical here,and a half-dozen picture books squirreled away in the files. But I'm finding ideas for other genres popping into my brain occasionally and I wonder, will I go there, too? We'll see!

Jolene Perry said...

Sigh. I'm a genre hopper but I don't want to be, it makes getting started so much harder! I just can't help myself.

Danyelle said...

Great question! My writing always has a fantastical element to it. I do tend to stick with YA or upper MG though. :)

Mayowa said...

Some historical YA sounds like a good time. I'd read that.

I'd love to write some fantasy someday. I'm a huge fan of the World of Warcraft series (Richard A. Knaak's Well of Eternity trilogy for example).

Great post.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I usually stick to romance because that's what I know best. But I've thought about genre hopping. A lot. :)

Saumya said...

I stick to women's fiction because the issues I like to write about are relevant to adults. I wish I could dabble in other genres though!

JEM said...

I deffos genre hop. It's not so much a choice as a dictation of the story idea that comes to me. I like it, keeps me on my toes :).

Faith said...

I'm a genre hopper to the 100th degree... but I think that might be because I READ in multiple genres, excessively. And my interests are all over the map. I'm not sure how that'll affect my career if I ever get published, but for now, the advice I've heard is "just write your stories, worry about the rest later"... which, all things considered, is pretty sound advice.

Still, I tend to worry about it. Ah, the joys of having a Type A personality.

Connie said...

I genre hop. I've done everything from YA to historical fiction to detective fiction. That's one of the joys of being unpublished--you get to dabble. But I always come back to YA. If and when I do get published, then I'll be content to stay there (I think) because I'll have gotten the genre-lust out of my system.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Genre is so hard to pin down in my writing. I definitely go where my muse directs, regardless of category. I don't look forward to the day I have to say, once and for all, how my novel should be shelved!

Alexandra Shostak said...

I genre hop all the time. What I write always has a fantasy element, but I've written steampunk, adult, YA, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, faeries, horror... lots of it :-P

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've just written science fiction so far, but I'd like to try fantasy next. Or maybe a horror-thriller.

Vatche said...

Ooh, genre hopping. I do that a lot, but I tend to wind it down to two genres in the end, somehow. But those two genres tend to differ from WiP to WiP. My current WiP is Sci-Fi...I don't know about the sub-genre though.

Interesting post and write on!

Walter Knight said...

In an effort to be noticed, I tried being different, and went with Humorous Military Science Fiction with Gambling Themes. At least it was fun to write.

It is hard to stand out in a crowd, so when that didn't work I just kept writing, ending up with a 13 book Sci/Fi series: America's Galactic Foreign Legion.

That large of a project could not be ignored, and I'm now published and selling quite a few paperback and Kindle books. Yay. Keep writing.

Wally

Theresa Milstein said...

I hope around the children's literature sphere. YA and MG, but I've tried several picture books. For each YA and MG, there's always been some element of fantasy.

I wouldn't rule out a non fantasy book or an adult one, but I don't know...

Abby said...

I think it's good to experience other genres, but not go out too far (i.e., have one book in 5-6 different genres). I'm mainly in nonfiction and website copywriting these days, but I want to go and do fiction some time.

Krispy said...

I can't take the fantasy out of my writing, so that's a constant. There has to be something other, but it varies from adult to YA and it touches on other sub-genres.

I definitely read more widely genre-wise than I write.

notesfromnadir said...

That's interesting that you genre hop. It'll also be worth noting 5 years from now to see if you're still doing it or have selected one & stuck w/ it.

Most of the time I write fiction, although I've wandered off into nonfiction & naturally my articles are in that genre. However, my preferred genre is fiction.

Jen said...

Fantastic topic!! I love to move around! I write YA and Adult novels, the adult novel is a serial killer story otherwise I would have made it more PG for YA but it's just to gruesome and I've enjoyed writing the story!!!

Within the YA realm I find myself very much in the fantasy aspect but some is fantasy,historical,romance and others is fantasy,thriller and a bit of romance. Only one thing stays true, I love traveling through different worlds!

Happy Thursday!

patti said...

Lydia, best wishes with figuring out "THE SQUEEZE!"

Such a blessing to meet you at Jennifer's place. I enjoyed grappling with the topic of genre hopping! My agent and I just discussed this recently.

Sigh. For now, it's women's fiction. And that's a good thing!

Hope we can become bloggites!
Visit (when you have time, LOL) at www.pattilacy.com/blog

Rachna Chhabria said...

I usually stick to middle grade fantasy, but I have written ilustrated as well as picture books.

Clara said...

I like to try different genres: Fantasy, romance and now even horror. But my favourite is fantasy.

Seeing your chart, made me think of a very cool genre: Historical Sci Fi Picyire book. Its a golden idea!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I genre hop ... with the same characters yet.

I wrote a historical fantasy set in 1853. The idea for an urban fantasy with the same MC came to me. Then, I thought of a YA fantasy with the same MC seen through the eyes of a 12 year old street orphan nibbled at my imagination. (Auntie Mame meets The Twilight Zone.)

Yes, I genre hop but in the same linked universe. Have a healing weekend, Roland

Talli Roland said...

I tend to stick to one. It's hard enough for me to manage that!

Terri Tiffany said...

I love writing women's fiction--love it--so why am I polishing up my romance? because I love romance so I try to combine them as best I can.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Lydia, I try everything depending subject and moods....
but more in fun or jest.
Have a nice day, Lee.

Giles Hash said...

I try to stick to YA Fantasy, but it varies from Urban Fantasy to Classic Fantasy. Although, when I have a few books under my belt, I plan on writing a Sci-fi Mystery series for adults.

Walt M said...

I don't know if I ever genre hop, but I do write both inspirational historical and nonfiction. Not sure how to mix the two yet.

Lynn said...

I listened to a radio interview with an author tagged as YA but she doesn't agree with genre lines. I liked her perspective that the story draw the reader, not the genre. I've read books that were in the YA section, but easily could have been in the adult fiction. I'm not against genre writing, but I think writers should just write their story without genre lines--lines that may even limit creativity.

Miss Pickwickian said...

When I write I write the story I want to tell. I never think of genre. I just want the story to come across the way I feel and see it.

Maybe I should think more about genre then I do, but I don't like it when writers are strictly genre tied. Good books should say something to all ages.

Enjoyed your blog!
Thanks for your work.

Samantha Bennett said...

I bounced around a bit when I first started writing before finding YA sci-fi. I'm open for more bouncing if a story takes me in a new direction. Fun post!

Medeia Sharif said...

I've genre hopped. I've written suspense, science fiction, all sorts of things. The hopping didn't always yield great results, though. I found out what my strengths and weaknesses were.

Francine said...

Hi,

Whatever genre it will be romance based ie; romantic thriller, romantic suspense, category romance, romantic saga etc.

So that puts a damper on kids books, and YA to me is just a minefield of slang (worldwide) and youth yatter!

best
F

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lbdiamond said...

I tend to stick to paranormal--whether it be adult or YA...I'm working on a dystopian now, but is for YA and has paranormal elements.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I only stick to writing YA, but I bounce around the subgenres. Maybe that's why I love the genre so much. :D

DL Hammons said...

The only time I step outside of my genre (mystery/suspense) is in my short stories. I get to play around with different themes, but don't confuse my primary focus. :)

Laura Pauling said...

Right now, I stick to middle grade, but I write both humorous, and then some of my stories are darker. I understand the whole branding thing, but prepublished/unagented writers are still exploring what suits them. I follow where the story goes!

Heather Taylor said...

I like to genre-hop. YA just isn't how it used to be anymore. If I wrote for YA, I would try to write it as honestly and realistically as I could.

Julie Musil said...

Lydia, I am ALL over the place! And I've loved everything I've tried. I think it's fun to try new things.

Sandy Shin said...

I'm definitely like you: tightly ensconced in the YA genre, but hopping withing the genre among fantasy, dystopian, steampunk, and science fiction. That's one of the draws of YA -- there are so many sub-genres within YA. :)

 
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