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 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.