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:

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.


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.

  5. Pingback: …At Your Fingertips

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