Picking a Genre: Do I Have To?

The Short Answer

Nope.

tumblr_static_tumblr_static__640

The Long Answer

When branding yourself as a writer, there’s no need to pick a single genre if you don’t want to. If you’ve primarily written romance or mystery and you want to branch out into true crime, there’s nothing stopping you from doing so. Fans of your writing might prefer when you write one genre or another, but your creativity shouldn’t be limited to one style of writing if you don’t want it to be.

Neil Gaiman

Perhaps the best example of a prolific author who hasn’t let himself be pigeon holed by one genre is Neil Gaiman. He is probably best known for his darker fantasy and sci-fi works like the Sandman comics and American Gods, but he has by no means limited himself. Gaiman has written everything from comics to novels to nonfiction essays to music biographies to TV episodes to movie scripts to children’s books.

genre
This is one of my son’s favorite books.

Gaiman’s bibliography goes on and on and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. His attitude seems to be one of if he thinks of an idea for a story, he goes with it. He doesn’t appear to stop and worry if something isn’t “on brand” for him as a writer; by doing what he wants, that becomes his brand.

Stephen King

Another excellent example is Stephen King. I know, I know, why am I referencing the master of horror? Or rather, the “king of horror” if you will.

Screenshot_116
See what I did there? . . . I’ll show myself out.

Stephen King has said repeatedly that he doesn’t consider himself to be a horror writer, despite the fact that he is often characterized that way. His stories tend towards the dark side, but he’s written across a variety of genres outside of horror including thrillers, crime procedurals, fantasy, literary fiction, and YA. In fact, one of my favorite books of his, 11.22.63, would be best categorized, in my opinion, as a time travel love story.

51vTQSkTUlL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_
An English teacher goes back in time to attempt to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

Another of his books, Joyland, has a framing storyline about a murderer at a theme park. However, for the bulk of the book, that almost seems like an afterthought to the more important story of a young man who befriends a terminally ill boy and his mother. King’s true skill is in writing well and creating engaging, realistic characters that make for a compelling read, regardless of genre.

Lola Black

I don’t by any means consider myself to be on the level of Neil Gaiman or Stephen King, but I have personally written across a wide variety of genres, both as a ghostwriter and as a regular author. Romance and erotica are the obvious genres I discuss most on this blog, but I’ve also written sci-fi, post-apocalyptic fantasy, psychological thriller, literary fiction, historical YA, and humorous nonfiction.

61cEsgbW4mL._UY250_
Well, at least I think I’m funny.

Lately I’ve started working on my first murder mystery novel and although it’s uncharted territory for me, it’s really, really fun to try something new. And, honestly, life is too short to prevent yourself from exploring new methods and ideas in your writing. After all, if Neil Gaiman and Stephen King can do whatever they want, why can’t you?


Like this post? Please consider clicking here to support me on Patreon so I can regularly bring you more content like this! I can’t guarantee that supporting me on Patreon will cause you to have endless good hair days . . . but I can’t guarantee that it won’t either.

Advertisements

Emily Regan is the author of several books, including "What's an Adult?: No One Knows Anything and We're All Going to Die." She is an avid fan of reality TV, an unironic Hanson fan, and currently resides in Arizona with her family.

2 thoughts on “Picking a Genre: Do I Have To?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.