Posted in Writing Advice

Picking a Genre: Do I Have To?

The Short Answer

Nope.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?


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Posted in Writing Advice

Finding Your Niche

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you). I know, I’m sorry, ads suck, but groceries are expensive. Rest assured, I am very particular about what I recommend.


 

I very nearly called this post “Finding Where You Fit” but the double entendre was a bit much, even for me.

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So you’ve decided you want to write romance and/or erotica: awesome! New year, new goals, new smutty you. But what to write about? If you start skimming through Amazon, you’ll see that there are tons of subcategories under erotica: billionaire, supernatural, interracial, dinosaurs, Pokemon, the list goes on and on.

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Yes, this is real.

You might feel tempted to fit your writing into a specific genre in order to differentiate your work from everyone else’s–after all, all erotica is about people (vampires/aliens/dinosaurs/manticores) having sex, so in order to have to set yourself apart, you need a gimmick, right?

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Don’t get me wrong–if writing gay alien shapeshifter werewolf erotica is your jam, then go for it. But too often, I think erotica writers feel pressured to fit their work into a niche and they’re too focused on the window dressing of a piece rather than the quality of the writing. I don’t mean that to sound disparaging against people who do have some sort of ultra-specific niche or embrace gimmicks–clearly, it’s panned out for Chuck Tingle. But it works for him because it’s original and he’s not trying to be someone he’s not.

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There is no one like Chuck Tingle.

It all comes down to authenticity. If you’re really jazzed about the idea of writing gay alien shapeshifter werewolf erotica, then do it! If you’d rather writer something less specific or more vanilla, go for it! I believe it’s important to allow yourself to try different styles and experiment a bit, but if you’re miserable trying to write about ultra-virile space aliens because you’d rather write about a Victorian romance, then go for the latter.

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I still have dibs on the ultra-virile space aliens story idea.

Writing is hard work, but it’s also fun, especially when you’re writing erotica. You get to write about people/zombies/sphinxes having sex! How awesome is that? I’ll give you a hint: pretty awesome.

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“I’ve been a bad kitty . . .”

I hope these quick tips are useful for your next scene. More than anything, just have fun with it. Sex is fun and your writing should reflect that, so get busy!

 


 

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