A Question of Genre

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So, I’ve been thinking and talking about genre.  That led me to this post where I’m going to ask a few questions and answer then.  Other authors or readers can join in the fun within the comments or on their own blog.  Maybe we can turn this into an optional chain post where nobody is tagged.  Totally volunteer, but I’m curious about people’s opinions:

  1. What made you choose the genre that you write in?  If not working within a genre, why did you go that route?
  2. What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of working within a genre?
  3. Do you think genres crossover a lot more often than we realize?
  4. Would you try another genre or are you locked into your area as a specialist?  Do you believe this hurts you as an author?
  5. Would you write within a genre that you don’t like, but is currently popular in order to get your foot in the door of the business?

My Answers

  1. I always loved fantasy, so I naturally gravitated toward that when I set out to become an author.  Something about having swords and magic instead of lasers and advanced technology appealed to me.  Maybe because I think a fantasy author has more control over the rules of their world than someone who works in one that includes Earth and real world physics.
  2. The strength of working within a genre is that you have some guidelines to work with and previous authors to be ‘compared’ to.  Though, the comparison is a double-edged sword because it can be how you don’t match up to it.  That’s what I think is the biggest weakness of genre writing.  Everyone involved has their own preconceived notions about what should and should not be included in a genre book.  Many also have cliches that they rail against while other readers are okay with them.  It really amplifies the ‘you can’t please everyone’ factor.
  3. Yes.  Genres crossover a lot, but you can typically figure out the main genre.  For example, romance seems to be everywhere in literature.  Yet, it isn’t always the main genre.  It can be a fantasy book with a romance subplot or a fantasy book with horror elements.  There really are hazy borders between genres.
  4. I’ve tried other genres, but I might end up being a fantasy specialist.  It’s where I feel more comfortable and I think I’m skilled at it.  As for hurting me as an author, I think it depends on the aspects of other genres that I pull it.  I can fall into the trap of being a one-trick pony, so I have to find ways to expand my repertoire while remaining within my comfort zone.  I still want wander out to other genres to test myself if a suitable story comes to mind.
  5. This last question has been thrown my way for years.  Personally, I don’t have it in me to write a story simply to jump on a bandwagon.  I was told to write vampire romance when Twilight was big, Halo books when that was hot, and Warhammer books when a friend got into those.  My concern is that I kick off my career in these areas and trap myself in them.  I gather an audience who loves those types of stories, but it doesn’t mean they’ll follow me to what I really want to do.  I’m writing for fun, entertaining others, and to create a legacy.  That makes me feel like I have to stay the course.

So, who wants a go at these questions?  You can answer in the comments or on your own blog.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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40 Responses to A Question of Genre

  1. I don’t often take part in these Q & A sessions, but this sounds like fun. I’ll post my answers at http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com


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  3. sknicholls says:

    What a great idea for a blog post and such a hot topic! Seems some readers (and writers) are die hard genre fans and don’t like any of the genre rules broken and others are happy to see the originality that come from not following a formulaic novel template…especially in the indies coming out.

    Loved your answers, especially why you write as you do, ” I’m writing for fun, entertaining others, and to create a legacy.”


  4. Hello! Great answers to your questions. I especially agree with your answer to question five. Romance is big, but I’m not into it and I’m not going to write a romance novel just to attract an audience that later will run away screaming when I write my dark fantasy and horror novels. Ha,ha! Great post!


    • I hate to admit that I would love to see what happens when a Romance author goes dark. I add romantic subplots to my fantasy books, but they tend to take a backseat. An interesting thing about romance though is that it seems to get more attention than the main plot from some people. I have a lot of action and adventure in my books, but I tend to hear about the love triangle from people. I think it appeals more to people than swords, vampires, and whatever else is around.


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  6. Oloriel says:

    I never officialy published anything, but I got 5 books ready, 2 fantasy, 3 sci-fi, would my answers be of any good?


  7. ioniamartin says:

    I chose to write romance because Charles E. Yallowitz would hand me my arse in fantasy.


  8. Love thriller fiction due to the opportunity for twists which I like to do as well. Romance? naw. Fantasy? I’m not smart enough.


  9. aldreaalien says:

    Oh I couldn’t resist answering these on my blog.


  10. I read and write mainstream, sci-fi/fantasy, horror, and have a sci-fi/comedy wip. I haven’t written enough yet for anyone to get mad about buying a genre that they don’t like because they did like one of my others – hope it never happens! I’m not trying to be a multi-genre party girl though – I just write what comes out.


    • Very cool. I think it’s an amazing talent to effortlessly jump genres. I’ve tried and going out of fantasy always makes me feel uncomfortable.


      • I tried not to in the beginning – it’s true about the guys out there who say you should stick to one. Fantasy is brilliant but I reckon you have to be a really good writer, because you’re a world creator, and it’s not easy to make those worlds real. It’s easier to write the other stuff.


      • It’s definitely a trick to describe a world without making it sound like show & tell. A lot of exposition is needed.


      • Had to google exposition. 😀 I’m looking forward to reading Legends of Windemere. I only allowed myself a zoom through because I have a couple I have to finish. I think that you’ve written the pov brilliantly – that takes major skill!


      • Thanks. It’s a challenge, especially when I have more of my main characters involved. I hope you enjoy the books when you get to them. 🙂


  11. C. Miller says:

    I was going to make a really lame joke (if it could be called as much) about this raising a lot of questions. Also, I love it that you invited other people to take part in it. I think I might make a post here in a little bit (linking back, of course)…
    I’m not going to tell you how long I’ve been sitting here trying to think of something to say. I guess my brain isn’t really working. Apologies.


  12. 1. I like many genre’s, but fantasy is the only one that allows me to allow my imagination to run amuck. Too, I find fantasy provides the best foundation for me to combine genres.
    2. You covered the strengths and weaknesses well so I don’t have more to add to your list. I use some conventions and disregard others because I write what I write. Anything else would be a lie. If I sell I’ll establish new conventions. Following conventions to the letter is a comfortable straightjacket.
    3. Oh yes, and genres will cross more in the future because the publishing industry doesn’t have the stranglehold on definitions that they once did.
    4. I’d try other genres and often venture into them when writing short stories. If I didn’t write fantasy I’d probably write mysteries since my fantasy writing always contains a mystery within its pages.
    5. Absolutely not. I don’t even have to think about that, and it’s more about honest writing than anything else. If I’m not inspired then I write garbage.


    • Fully agree. I like the idea of testing other genres with short stories. I did two novellas to try horror and drama. Not very good at either.


      • I’m not sure what it is, but I feel more comfortable wielding mystery or romance in a fantasy setting than in a “real world” setting. It’s strange. Some of my favorite writers wrote sci-fi and they had a lot of influence on me, but I can’t write it at all. Still, even if no one else sees what we write it’s good to stretch ourselves.


      • Sci-fi seems to need a technological mind as well as the imagination. I’ve tried it and I’m always awkward because I feel like I have to explain how things work. Most times I can’t. Big difference between ‘cast a spell to fly’ and ‘put full power to the dual-propulsion engine after they added the purified fuel made from . . . now I’m lost’.

        I think fantasy leaves itself open to mystery and romance rather easily. Magic and the non-Earth world are already being explored, so the reader has a sense of curiosity for a mystery. With romance, it’s a powerful tool to help a reader connect with a world they don’t exist in.


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  15. kdavisfanclub says:

    what an excellent post, Charles! I have copied and pastedit to save for later as there is a great deal to consider, thank you for sharing, I’ll get back to you on this! best wishes from baldy


  16. kdavisfanclub says:

    finally got round to answering these myself!
    best wishes from baldy


  17. kdavisfanclub says:

    additional: loved all the comments here and laughed mu butt off when I read quote of the week from ioniamartin: I chose to write romance because Charles E. Yallowitz would hand me my arse in fantasy.
    awesome, thanks so much for this challenge, Charles, loved every minute of it


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