Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Genre Problem

Decisions, decisions... When it comes to writing, is there a specific genre for every author, or is it okay to mix it up a bit? And how does one find 'their' genre in the first place? These are the questions that I ask myself every day when I sit down to write. Because every day I pick a different genre to write in, in an attempt to tidy up my TBD (To Be Done) folder. I've got half finished novels in horror, romance, children's fiction, crime, science fiction, non-fiction, young adult and even a full on attempt at a 'proper, literary' novel. I've got collections of poetry, even plays and one TV script. None are finished.

Are they unfinished because I can't settle into which genre is right for me?

Having bemoaned that fact that I can't finish anything, I will admit that I do have two completed novels. And when I say completed, I mean completely completed - they are edited to within an inch of their original incarnations, shiny and new and ready to go. But go where? One is a horror, and one is a children's book. And although I'm incredibly impressed with the fact that I have written two - TWO! Can you believe it? I can't! - books, there's just something about them that displeases me. I'm just a bit... bored with them, if I'm honest. And this prevents me from submitting them to too many places. I don't want to burn my bridges when one day - if I can just settle down to it - I might write a really GOOD novel!

Am I asking too much for my own creations to, after all these years (the children's novel, for example, I started 14 years ago, and it's been an on and off love affair ever since), still make me proud?

Now, short stories - those I can finish. And those are mostly horrors. So is that my genre? The horrific short story? Perhaps. I love to read horror. Perhaps all those Stephen King/Shaun Hutson/Richard Laymon (and many, many others) late nights have seeped deep enough into my brain to allow me to really let go and enjoy the freedom of writing about truly terrible things. Or maybe that's just my nature. Now that's a scary thought. And anyway, is there a market for collections of short stories? Not that I can see, at least not from debut authors.

But I also love murder mysteries, devouring every Miss Marple and Poirot and Morse and so on. And yet, I cannot create one of my own. It really is frustrating.

So I ask myself all these questions every day, and despite not having the answers, I sit down to write anyway. It might be five minutes on a sci-fi novel, or half an hour on a short story. It might just be one sentence that I realise would fit perfectly into my play. Whatever it is, I'm starting to think that the genre doesn't matter. So I'll just write what I feel like. It's more fun that way.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article on a good topic. I think that you should appeal more to an audience then a genre to make it as a published writer- but that's coming from a non-published writer.