My chosen writing genre is Crime fiction. It’s the second most popular genre, after Romance/Erotica, so seemed to be a sensible choice for me as an unknown writer. I’ve read a lot of crime novels and true crime stories, so knew what I wanted to do with my novels.
Danish-Norwegian novelist Aksel Sandemose said “The only things worth writing about are love and murder.” A bold statement, but if you think about it, most great novels tackle these things. Even if a story is classified as fitting the History genre, such as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall the plot is full of passion and grisly death.
I originally intended to write a novel that would be highfalutin Literature, but then read that Literature is the hardest style of book to sell, so I migrated to genre writing. I think it’s easier to be taken seriously with your heavyweight manuscript if you’ve already infiltrated the literary establishment by attending conferences, writing courses and winning a short story competition or two.
Apart from my crime novels, I’ve also written short stories and novellas, poetry and song lyrics. I’m halfway through a series of four novellas about an American Civil War veteran. Writing Historical fiction needs even more research than my contemporary crime stories, which has made me wary of doing more. Mind you, I well understand why crime novelists set their stories in olden days, where the most advanced technology is a magnifying glass, as it avoids the complicated nightmare of CCTV, Social Media, DNA, smartphones, surveillance by governments, computers etc.
I’m similarly wary of writing Science Fiction, as it strains my scientific knowledge. I wrote one novella which was set on Mars, and in the three months it took to complete, the Mars Exploration Rover kept on making discoveries forcing me to amend my plot. But, I was pleased in a cosmic way, when a fictional detail about dust devils I’d put in proved to be true!
Fantasy fiction intimidates me, probably for the very reasons that those of you who write it love it. That is the building of worlds, with all of the complexity involved. I have trouble enough understanding the world I’m on, to want to construct a different one.
I’ve just introduced romance to my Cornish Detective series, which will be a challenge to integrate into the next story. I’m looking forward to it, as my protagonist’s new love interest is as much a thorn as a rose, with a shady past that he doesn’t know about.
All the same, I can’t imagine myself writing a conventional Romance. Nor would I tackle Erotica, though each of my crime novels includes an unusual sexual incident (I’m trying to get a bad reputation!). I’m not prudish about sex, but it’s a crowded market.
I’ve had a few ghostly experiences, which I incorporated into a novella, but writing at length about a friendly or hostile ghost doesn’t appeal. I’m more scared of terrors in real life, so have never been intimidated by Horror stories. That’s not to say I wouldn’t write one, as it’s a real challenge to create a mood that ratchets up the tension, before throwing the reader into a situation where they’re afraid to turn the next page.
I’d never write Religious/Inspirational fiction, though I hope that my readers find the occasional uplifting and thought-provoking passage in my crime stories. With religion, I cleave to what the Dalai Lama said:
I’ve written about sixty poems for children, aged 5-10, which I enjoyed doing and that my young readers liked. I may pen a story but am intimidated by the craft of writing for young readers. The simpler a story becomes the more complicated the repercussions; it would be a great responsibility for me to communicate messages about life to children.
Writing funny fiction that would be classified in the Humour genre is more appealing. I prefer situational humour to slapstick on the page. I loved reading Patrick deWitt’s French Exit which brought a wry smile to my face, with its absurdist and rather dark plot. Humour is so subjective, but I’d like to have a go at amusing readers.
There can be resistance from readers loyal to what you normally write, should you attempt to shift genres, which is when pen names emerge. I previously posted about being trapped by genre, but some successful authors hop around between genres.
There’s only so much time to write, so it’s wise to play to one’s strengths.
Writing is a brilliant way of getting to know yourself, finding out what you really believe. It’s pieces of you that you’re putting down on the page.
What wouldn’t you write?