Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Passion Knows No Genre

by Marjorie Brody
At a local writing group last night, the presenter talked about the value of writing in one genre. Not a new concept. I’ve often heard authors and agents assert that the way to build a following (in addition to writing an excellent book) is to focus on one genre. Perhaps the reason this particular idea zapped me last night, was because I’ve been struggling with that concept myself. Even my psychological suspense novel couldn’t settle down into one genre. It won awards in both adult and YA arenas.

I can see the value of holding fast to one genre. It makes wonderful, logical, and practical sense. I admire those authors who can stay niche-focused. 

I can’t. 

I enjoy experimenting with styles and forms and subjects. I write literary short stories, avant guard plays, middle grade adventures, picture books, poetry, and even tinker with science fiction. I enjoy reaching out to readers of differing ages and literary preferences. Diversity of genres pushes me to think in unconventional ways. 

Variety has also allowed me to experience my words in 3D. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like seeing your characters come alive on the stage. When the audience reacts with jolts of surprise, bursts of laughter, or muffled sobs—all at the intended moment—I mean, come on, it’s not often that authors get to see their reader’s reactions first hand.  

The other day I wrote a poem from the point of view of my next novel’s protagonist. It allowed me to get into that character’s head and heart. Will I find a place for that poem in the novel? I don’t know. If nothing else, I can utilize images from the poem to capture the essence—the impact—of that character’s emotion. And, I’ll still have a poem to add to a collection. (I’m currently working on a poetry collection, in addition to my prose.) 

Perhaps I’ll need to accept the consequences of writing in different genres: touching a few people in each, versus a lot of people in one. Then again, while readers do tend to gravitate toward their favorite genres, I trust that if they find an author they enjoy reading, they will follow her no matter what she writes. 

Bottom line: yes, I want to develop a powerful following, but I guess I’m just rebellious  enough to do it my way. 

Have you ever shunned popular wisdom to remain true to yourself? 

Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short stories appear in literary magazines and the Short Story America Anthology, Vols. I, II and III. Her debut psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival and won the Texas Association of Authors 2014 Best Young Adult Fiction Book Award. TWISTED is available in digital and print at http://tinyurl.com/cvl5why or http://tinyurl.com/bqcgywl. Marjorie invites you to visit her at www.marjoriespages.com.


  1. Good for you, Marjorie. In my opinion REAL writers must communicate what is in their hearts and souls. You are doing that, following your passion, as you note. If what is most important to you is connecting, then you are doing that, and I applaud you for it...doing what you need to do. As for your question that concludes your post, yes, I've gone against popular wisdom. My debut mystery--one I was burning to write--had to contend with the unpopular Vietnam War period. I knew it would be a hard sell, but after it was published, I learned that it was seen as a real no-no among book sellers. Given the choice to bring out a debut book all over again, I would choose the same setting, the same subject matter. It was what I HAD to write about. The book connects well with SOME readers, but not all by any means. And so be it. Literature can't be pigeon-holed the way marketers would be prefer it to be. Be true to your muse--or sell a thousand more books? You chose, and I admire you for it. Write on!

  2. Well I for one am glad you followed your heart and wrote Desolation Row. I look forward to the sequel. I think one of the reasons people are supportive of our military today is because of the way we treated soldiers when they returned from Viet Nam--to say nothing about those who resisted the war as the characters in your novel. Following one's heart, one's passion, can be difficult and not easily understood or supported. Hopefully, when it comes to creating prose, following one's heart and being true to oneself will enrich the experience not only for the author, but for the reader as well.


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