Diversity Is Our Greatest Strength

They say that variety is the spice of life, and I agree with it, You need to keep things interesting. Make changes to things and just see where life takes you. This can be something major, like changing careers, homes or even countries, but it could also be small things, like taking a different route in to work, or buying a different coffee on morning. These small areas of diversity are what adds the colour and extra flavor to life.

Why is it then, that as authors we are almost expected to choose a genre and stick to it? I know that with the eBook revolution, and self publishing, it is possible for an author to write multiple genres, but how many of those make it, or just return to the chosen sector?

I know I do. Ok we may wander off the path a little, but what about a big genre jump, I know a lot of us have ideas for stories completely outside our current genre but we don’t do it.

it would seem that more often than not, writers are defined first and foremost by their genre.

” Have you read anything by Alex  Laybourne?”

“No he writes Horror… I don’t like Horror.”

Why does it have to be like this?

I have read numerous articles about this same subject, and the thinking behind it is simple. Fan base. Fans expect a certain sort of work from an author, and to change it completely, to say move from Horror to Romance, would put noses out of joint and be too big of a risk.

Sure, I see a risk, but I also see a reward. Besides, isn’t that what life is all about… taking risks. Doing something different and taking that chance at something you want.

If we played it safe in every avenue of life, things would be downright dull.

Actors and actresses, these fine folks do a very similar job as authors. They tell stories, one through words, and the other through actions (as a result of the words). Actors are not forced to choose a genre and stick to it. Ok, some choose to do so, but look back at the great actors, they appeared in a great range of films, from comedies to drama, war movies and romantic films.

Clark Gable, Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren name them all, they have appeared in a range of movies, and have received acclaim for their performances in many of these genres.

Why therefore, are writers so often afraid to test the waters around them? Sure, some of the fans we build up may question our decision, but if the writing is good, surely they will still give it a read, and the potential for new fans is colossal.  I like a writer because of the style of their writing and the ability to tell a story, not because of the genre they write in.

What about you? Are you firmly stuck in one genre, do you dabble in others, but stay as close to home as possible, or are you a writing nomad, wandering the genre fields with great abandon? I know where I currently stand, but I also know where I want to end up. I say cast off the label of genre and write what ever your head and your heart tells you to write.

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8 thoughts on “Diversity Is Our Greatest Strength

  1. Interesting post Alex. For myself, I love the freedom of sci-fi and to a lesser extent, fantasy and I enjoy mixing the two up. I guess if I ever ran out of ideas for these two genres, or became obsessed with an idea that was outside my normal genres I’d probably write it and be damned. But then I really have nothing to lose, lol. How I’d feel if I actually had a fan base I just don’t know.

    What I do know is that I’ve enjoyed some of your short stories that were outside the horror/paranormal box and I think you /should/ explore out there. 🙂

  2. Thanks Meeks,

    There are so many fascinating things out there, and so many ideas waiting to be plucked and written, I would only be punishing myself if I forced myself to write in only one genre.

  3. As you know, my first couple of books have been of the nonfiction variety. I do not, however, want to be stuck in that genre. I would love to write some horror or maybe some mysteries.
    I like zombies, vampires, and werewolves. But I also like books that have psycho killers. They get to you a bit more, because they fall into the category of being more possible.
    Many ideas enter my head (and my dreams), but I have not yet made anything out of them. It is a bit scary to contemplate jumping genres like that, but it may well get my name out there more than it is.

    1. I think you should definitely give it a go Maxine. I love the idea of just writing what is in your head and heart. A genre is just a label, and I don’t like labels. It is just a way to sort us all, and ensure that people retain the place and position the rest of the world assigns them. Remove the label of genre and we have the freedom that all other artists have.

      1. I need to just jump right in and let the inspiration flow. The worst that happens is that it sucks. At least I will have tried.
        I believe that Stephen King said something about writing what you love to read. Does that sound familiar?
        I wrote my first two books, My Remembrance, and Cameron’s Journey, because I had a message to express and people to inspire. Now, it’s time to write purely for entertainment purposes.

  4. I agree. Admittedly most of my stories naturally gravitate towards one genre, although I do crossover between horror and paranormal romance. There are so many sub-genre nowadays anyway that I like to think readers are more relaxed about their favourite authors than they used to be. Write what comes naturally, that’s what I say!

    1. I hope you are right about the readers being more relaxed. I know with my work, the highway trilogy is an in your face horror adventure, but my next two books will be somewhat lower pace and more character driven horror tales.

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