QOTW: Preferred Genre

21 May

We announced our Critique Partner Page yesterday! Check it out!

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This week’s QOTW was inspired by Kelly, who asked, “What type of genre can you absolutely NOT write? E.g. if you were a fantasy writer, would you find yourself unable to write super-depressing stories?”

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My favorite genre to write is YA.  I’ve taken a stab at both realistic YA fiction and sci-fi YA fiction, and I enjoyed working on both. To me, teenagers are the ideal audience because their lives are opening up to so many new things.  I admire the way that young people are so receptive to new ideas – new love, new adventures – and most of them haven’t become jaded to the world yet.  I’ve always loved the company of teenagers (I’ve been a mentor to high schoolers for about twelve years) so it only makes sense for me to write about them.

The Other Writer Waiting on Submissions

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I love writing in YA (especially YA fantasy) because it’s a genre that is always changing, and always pushing the envelope. When you’re a teenager, you’re going through a lot of changes: you’re developing mature friendships, you’re getting used to your new/adult body, and you’re taking your first steps into a much larger world. This automatically adds tension to any plot: fighting a dragon is one thing, but fighting a dragon while your hormones are raging is WAY more interesting–and fun to write! Plus, teenagers aren’t yet set in their ways/behavior/patterns–there is a lot more room for character growth.

I write fantasy because…well, just because it’s what I love, and when I lie awake at night and dream up new characters and plots, new worlds always come with them. I love that fantasy gives me the freedom to create worlds of my own making, to rewrite the rules, to invent histories. There are no limits in fantasy.

The Writer with her First Book Deal

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I realized recently that most of my novels can be covered under the umbrella of ‘Speculative Fiction’, which includes fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I prefer to think of Speculative Fiction as the genre of ‘what if?’ What if women ruled the world (ANTEBELLUM). What if butterflies could haunt a child? (GO LOOK THERE). What if people had to erect force fields in order to live without radiation (A CLEAR AND BEAUTIFUL LIE)?

I’m a ‘what if’ thinker, and I’m drawn to stories that help me answer that open-ended question. I’m not attracted to stories that take place in our day and age because I live in the here and now, and in my mental life I want to visit somewhere very different from here.

Additionally, I prefer to write for adults because there are fewer restrictions on the content I can include. But also when I was younger I read more adult than YA, especially autobiographies, and I absorbed the wisdom of older, experienced people. I guess I’ve always had a pretty firm grasp on who I am as a person, and sometimes I get frustrated with characters still learning best practices (don’t gossip about your friends, don’t lie to your loved ones, don’t hide things to protect someone, etc.). I prefer to work with characters who have already learned all that 🙂

The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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I write more YA, or, more specifically, YA romance. I just can’t write something that isn’t a love story in some way. Maybe that’s why I love Taylor Swift songs, ha. She seems as fascinated by love as I am. 🙂

I have always WANTED to write a killer suspense, but I dont think I’d be any good at weaving in the clues so that they’re subtle, but still can be unraveled. I’m not creative enough. And I dont think I’ll ever write an epic fantasy because my brain just doesn’t go there. I’d be like, “there was a ring! and a dragon! and an epic quest!” I have no creativity for that.

The Literary Agent and Writer with Multiple Book Deals

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When I first really started writing, I was big into Romance because I was a huge Nicholas Sparks fan. But I slowly realized just how difficult it is to write, and decided I’d rather romance be an element in my stories rather than the main genre. Most of my stories are Adult, but I like to dabble in Young Adult as well; as for specific genres, I’m mostly drawn to fantasy, horror, and psychological thrillers. I’ve always been interested in psychology, and really enjoy picking apart a character’s psyche.

My favorite novel is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which has greatly inspired a lot of my writing. The narrator is incredibly unreliable, sarcastic, and absolutely insane (despite his claims to the opposite); he also flip-flops between clever and foolish, making a total mess of himself before the reader. While I love the idea for my current WIP, I feel like something’s missing from it, and I think that could be the psychological struggle. It’s present, but I don’t focus on it enough for my tastes, which makes the characters incredibly flat for me.

Horror is one of my favorite genres because psychology plays so heavily into it. Actually, one of my guilty pleasures when I’m active on Fiction Press is to scroll through the M-Rated horror stories and spend all day looking for one that captivates me. I really hope to write an awesome horror story one day, but I’d want it to be my masterpiece, and I’m in no way ready for that yet!

The Writer Working At A Local Newspaper

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I love to write in the fantasy and historical genres. These also happen to be genres that I especially enjoy reading! Fantasy is by far my favourite, but YA fantasy has always been the more attractive; which might be why my current WIP is in this genre. I am also planning on writing an adult historical fiction novel. So I wouldn’t say that as a writer, I limit myself; but I do like to stick with what I myself am attracted to. In both fantasy and historical fiction, there is a great deal of world building; in historical, you need to build a world that has existed, and portray it as accurately as possible. In fantasy, you need to create a world that is just as complex as a historical one. Something about creating worlds that are believable in both genres really appeals to me. And that’s probably why I love to write them.

The Writer Making Her Way Into Publishing

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To be honest, when I being writing a story, I give little to no thought as to what genre it falls into. I simply have too much else to think about. The bad thing about this is that after the story is done and I need to categorize it, I falter. Is this fantasy? Science fiction? It’s not exactly romance, but… and so on.

What I do know is that everything I’ve written so far falls under YA. Again, this isn’t exactly something I decided one day–it’s just how the story comes out. So it’s very possible that one day, I’ll write a book and realize that it should go under Adult, instead. But in the mean time, I’m very happy to call myself a YA writer. As I was telling someone the other day, the teenaged years are so special and unique. It’s such a time of growth and discovery. There’s the emergence of real maturity, but at the same time, there’s innocence. As a whole (and despite what many of them may think) most teens are not completely jaded.

As far as genre genre goes, I can’t think of anything I’d never write, because I write what I like to read, and I’ll read just about everything. Epic fantasy and pure romance are the least likely to ever come out of my pen. I like to write about relationships and personal growth–things that I think get lost sometimes in epic fantasy stories when there are fifty characters and they fly across the continent. As for romance… I guess I’ve just never touched it, though I think that’s changed lately.

The Writer Just About to Query

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What genre do YOU prefer to write in?

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9 Responses to “QOTW: Preferred Genre”

  1. Rowenna May 21, 2010 at 9:03 AM #

    Historical fiction all the way…I’ve tried contemporary and I just can’t make it fly. I dabbled in fantasy when I was younger but seem to have lost any touch I once had for it–though it might be fun to try it again sometime. I think I’d like to try speculative–particulary something set in a post-apocalyptic setting–but in some ways that’s a little bit like writing historicals 😛 And not that I *wouldn’t* write it, but if I tried to write straight romance it would crash and burn!

    • Kat Zhang May 21, 2010 at 3:28 PM #

      I have so much respect for people who write historical fiction. The thought of all the research that must be done scares me a little, to be honest! Although I suppose that if one had a particular interest in one period, it wouldn’t seem so much like work as reading for leisure!

  2. Gabriela da Silva May 21, 2010 at 12:39 PM #

    I’m still not sure if I have a favorite genre. I would say fantasy is easier for me – medieval fantasy even more, as I’ve studied the period in and out and thus world-building comes easy breezy.

    Also, fantasy allows me to push my characters to places they wouldn’t reach normally. My writings all have to do with the Deity (not only God, but all that is numinous and great) and with Death, so fantasy seems like a natural platform for this.

    But lately I realize I can write women lit too – not “chick lit,” since romance usually bores me, but literature about, y’know, being a woman. Sounds boring, I guess.

    I’m trying my hand at sci-fi lately – not the Star Wars kind of sci-fi but the Brave New World one. It’s a little bit difficult for me but I’m enjoying it.

    • jenn fitzgerald May 21, 2010 at 11:31 PM #

      Oh, Brave New World! I like sci-fi that doesn’t go to alien worlds because it’s easier to see how our world could develop into it. Not to say I don’t also love epic space battles!

      I also love fantasy because it lets you do anything at all with the characters 🙂

  3. Angela May 21, 2010 at 9:08 PM #

    I could never write mystery. I`m not creative enough to insert all these clues and stuff. It makes my head spin. I also have trouble writing really sappy romances. I`m a bit of a cynic when it comes to love. :/

    I`m more of a fantasy, horror, science fiction type of girl.

    • jenn fitzgerald May 21, 2010 at 11:35 PM #

      I keep wanting to write mystery, and I keep trying, but I’m just not good at putting it all together correctly. I guess it just takes a lot of practice! One day I’ll have to see if any mystery writers discuss how they do it online.

      I know what you mean about sappy romances too!

  4. Timothy May 22, 2010 at 6:12 AM #

    I always write fantasy. I don’t know why, but everything I write turns out to have a fantasy element. I like writing YA fantasy because I can put way more humour in it. Teenage characters in storys really do their own thing. I can’t outline until i’ve wrote like 10 chapters, and then i never stick to it because my characters go their own wayXD
    Adult fantasy is alot harder for me, but way more rewarding. I can just do more in it. My good character can kill someone and feel guilty, my evil character can kill a child and love it e.t.c.
    I have a slight habit of only reading fantasy. Wich i should really change, since I think if i read a romance, mystery, horror etc, then i can more easily implement them into my fantasy story. You know?
    Wow this was alot longer than I thought it would be.

    • Kat Zhang May 22, 2010 at 12:25 PM #

      YA fantasy does tend to have a very different feel than Adult fantasy, doesn’t it?

      I share your outlining troubles, too! I’m working on it, though. It’s a good skill to have, I think.

      And it’s definitely easier to write genres you read a lot! Though if you don’t read that genre, perhaps you’ll be able to come up with something really original since you’ve never gotten used to the “rules”? Or maybe you’ll just stumble around and fall into all the cliche ridden holes! 😛

  5. Link May 24, 2010 at 11:57 PM #

    I love writing in fantasy. So far I’ve written a children’s fantasy, an epic fantasy, and now working on an epic steampunk fantasy. There’s also another story I’m part way through called LampLighter, which is a bit YA fantasy mixed with some interesting concepts. For my major work in English Extension 2, I wrote a literary piece about Fantasy being considered by some an illegitimate genre, using mundane real life events, but that is really as far away from fantasy as I’ve gone so far.
    I”ll definitely be exploring other genres in the future though.

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