The Genre Chooses the Writer

Haley Whitehall usually writes historical fiction. She has lately been working on writing fantasy. As a result she has posted a challenge for writers to try to write in a different genre to what they normally would. You can read more on her blog:

http://haleywhitehall.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/challenge-to-write-in-a-different-genre/

I adored history at school and a lot of my characters in the books I write are drawn to history as well. I have never tried to write historical fiction before. I tend to write mostly young adult fantasy. Since Haley Whitehall posted the challenge I have researched the evacuation of children from Liverpool during the second world war. I must say not being native to England and having grown up in the USA, I am finding this very fascinating reading. It is a lot of research though even for a small flash fiction piece.

When I started writing the historical fiction piece, I found my usual writing style did not lend itself to this genre. I am actually finding this challenge harder than I thought I would.

So that got me thinking, why do I write young adult fantasy? When did I decide that it was my preferred genre and age range. Well, see that is just it, I never chose that genre or that age range, I think it chose me. I read all different genres and books for various age levels but when it comes to writing I prefer to write fantasy.

As I am writing this I am reminded of the following quote from Harry Potter, “The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It’s not always clear why.”

Perhaps it is the same for writers and their stories.

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About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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11 Responses to The Genre Chooses the Writer

  1. Beautiful article! I love your Harry Potter quote. I agree with you the genre chose me. Though I as I am working on my fantasy story I’m believing that it is also possible to develop a style and a passion for a different genre if you choose too 🙂

    • usaukwoods says:

      Thank you Haley. I think perhaps you are right that with practice you can develop your skills in another style. I am still going to have a go at this historical fiction piece because it is good to stretch outside ones comfort zone every once in a while.

  2. Beth says:

    Great post!
    I usually write historical or speculative fiction–I find that my writing style lends itself very well to the two.
    The genre that I’m really trying to write though is what I term “normal people.” I’m not out to write chick lit or anything. I just want to write about every day folks and their lives. Writing in this style is a challenge. I need more practice.

    • usaukwoods says:

      Thank you for the comment. I have trouble writing about “normal people” and trust me my fantasy characters have some major issues! My husband tells other peoples stories very well but it is a skill that I find challenging. Good luck to you.

  3. I loved your Harry Potter reference too. I do prefer to write fantasy, and that’s mostly what I write, but I did write a first draft to a sci-fi novel last year. It was pretty challenging changing genres like that, and I’m thinking about changing it even more into a distopian novel. But maybe you’re right and the genre does choose the writer, or at least the genre that is best for the writer.

    • usaukwoods says:

      Thank you! I am more comfortable with writing about made up worlds than real ones but even some worlds prove harder to write than others. I had thought about distopian myself but I think that would be a big challenge. Good luck!

  4. Jami Gold says:

    Yes, the Harry Potter reference is perfect. 🙂

    And I never *chose* my genre. It was just the nature of the stories that came to me, so I certainly wasn’t going to fight my muse. 🙂

    • usaukwoods says:

      Thank you Jami. I often find a story will sometimes subtly and sometimes not so subtly reveal itself to me, I then feel I have no choice but to let it out into the world through writing.

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