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.