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Dabbling in a New Genre

They say to write the books you love to read, right? Then why do many of us usually stick to a single genre instead of branching out to try new things?

There are a couple of good reasons- once you sell, it isn't as easy to genre-hop around at your leisure, especially if you're hoping to stay at the same publishing house/imprint. And getting a couple of books under your belt that are the same genre can definitely help strengthen your writing skills and help you find your voice.


Since I'm unpublished, making the change was simply something that I had to get used to the idea of myself. After writing three contemporaries, I started to wonder why there wasn't more straight up, classic horror in YA. And while I love contemporary (and always will!), I realized that I was pretty passionate about trying on my horror gloves for awhile.

"This'll be easy," I thought to myself. "I've read a lot of horror. I've loved horror movies since I was a wee thing. LET'S DO THIS."

Once you start, something becomes pretty clear almost immediately: writing a genre you aren't used to can feel reeeaaallly uncomfortable and unnatural at first. If you're trying out dystopian, maybe you're finding that your world-building skills need some work. Or if you're dabbling in contemporary, you may find it a bit more difficult to concentrate on so much emotion when you're used to being able to throw in a magical vampire-bunny for excitement. For me with horror, writing any scenes that were non-straight-up-scary just felt off.

That's when that sparkly new inspiration and eager drive can falter, because you start to freak out and go all "I CAN'T DO THIS I NEED TO JUST STICK TO WHAT I KNOW WELL" and scurry back to your old back-up book in your previous genre with your tail between your legs.

Ah, writers. We're so silly sometimes.

Of course it's going to be insanely awkward at first. The perfectionist inside of you isn't going to like it right at the get-go. You're going to have to force it for awhile, maybe even going through thousands of words before you feel the 'click.' And even then, remember the oh-so-important-for-your-sanity rule, ALL FIRST DRAFTS SUCK. You're doing something new and scary, but the more you write, the easier it will get, and before long you'll have owned that obstacle right in the face.

So I say, write that book about the alien that works in a diner in Montana! It can only open more doors to you, both career-wise and creatively. Expanding your horizons can really help you grow as an artist, and just in case you needed to hear it...YOU CAN DO EEEET!
Amy Lukavics

Amy lurks within the forested mountains of Arizona. When she isn't reading or writing creepy stories, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and playing games across many platforms. She is the author of Daughters Unto Devils (Harlequin Teen 2015) and The Women In The Walls (Harlequin Teen 2016).

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  1. I will chase my ideas wherever they're going. 1st novel, straight up YA contemporary fantasy, 2nd, mafia thriller vaguely based on greek mythology, 3rd MG adventure, 4th princesses, 5th Colonial Sci-Fi. Who knows what's next?

    I went back to my college files last night and found 30 pages of the most depressing YA contemp. It is a wonderful journal of the horrors of middle school, and I'm so happy that I never, ever have to live through that again, either personally or vicariously. Possibly YA contemp is just not for me.

  2. This is a crazy conincidence, because just last night I came up with a contemperary YA idea that I got really excited about...when all I've ever written is sci fi and dystopian. Then, I woke up this morning and wondered what on earth I was thinking.

    Thanks for the words of encouragment. :)

  3. My comfort zone is usually horror and fantasy. But I've recently had an idea for a contemporary YA and vampires, ghosts, or werewolves haven't made an appearance so far! I've surprised myself.

    One genre that would be a challenge for me is sci-fi. But I'd still like to try it out in the future.

  4. I have a secret identity that I'm going to use for the romance projects I'm working on. Of course I'm not published in ANY genre, but it's good to prepare for the future, right? :)

  5. Thanks for this! I'm slowly realizing that the characters from one of my projects might be in the wrong story--and the wrong genre. They're more real to me than any characters have ever been (ironically, including characters I've drawn from life) but they may not live in a dystopia, I think. Oops! I appreciate the hope and helpful reminders here as I try to figure out where they belong.

  6. Screenplays: kids adventure (produced), drama/thriller (award winner and optioned); two rom coms (one award winner, one optioned); family holiday comedy (optioned); period horror (placed in contests); contemporary horror; action/crime (placed); crime/drama.


    Completed Books: lower mg adventure (published); MG quirky fantasy adventure (agented TWICE!); YA verse novel (agented and publisher offer pending); MG sports novel (to be published 2012)

    WIPs: YA chick lit sci-fi romance; MG paranormal adventure; Lower MG historical

    I think that's it.

    Conclusion: I HAVE NO GENRE!

  7. This couldn't have come at a better time! I'm about 8K into my first Middle Grade MS and it's killing me to work in a voice slightly younger than my usual YA voice. Unfortunately, this story -can't- be told in YA(its main character told me so), therefore, I'm slogging away in MG land.

  8. This is a great blog post. I do tend to stick to the same genre, despite loving to read many different types of book. I've always wanted to write historical fiction but found it too daunting- so much research! But maybe I just need to give myself a good kick.
    I'm definitely going to start looking at writing a wider variety of genres now- thanks for the encouragement!

  9. I totally agree. We read so many tihngs. Why can we only write one. I intend to publish in more htan one genre. I don't mind if I have to use pen names to do it.

  10. Love this post!!

    I must admit, I've often pondered this predicament before... like "Hey self, someday when you're published, you're going to be stuck with one genre."


    But why oh why must we be limited?!

    In my opinion, this is a terribly tragedy. I would just as soon like to write about mermaids as I would about a delicious YA political thriller, thank you very much. And why shouldn't I be able to?

    We should protest.


    Kidding... cause lets be honest... what power of sway to the Un published hold? Nada. [sigh]

    P.s. New stalker alert! ( ;

  11. I love it when I read these types of blog posts. It's nice to know there are other people out there thinking the same things as me!

    And yes, I have a note written on my bulletin board: "Even Stephen King hates his first drafts." Puts things in perspective. :)

  12. HORROR. YES. My current WIP is straight up horror too, and I'm glad I'm not alone! (though mine threatens to cross girl-eats-boy territory more than girl-meets-boy.)


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Item Reviewed: Dabbling in a New Genre Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amy Lukavics