June 2021 Featured Article
Why Write Different Genres?
You may have a favorite author who writes in a single genre. Every book they write is either romance or suspense or historical or contemporary or split fiction. There is certainly nothing wrong with an author who has discovered his or her niche, who loves writing that type of fiction, and sticks to it. Doing so makes branding so much easier because if hear their name or see it on a book, you know exactly what you’re getting.
But a good number of authors, perhaps even a majority of them, write in more than one genre. Trisha Goyer is one that immediately pops into my head. She writes both Amish and WWII and does them well. Such different ends of the spectrum. I’ve written just about whatever can be written – WWII, romantic suspense, Amish, and historical romance. I just released The Silver Shadow, which is romantic suspense. My next book, A Picture of Hope, coming in October, is WWII. And in February, my first mystery, Slashed Canvas, is set to release. So why can’t I just settle down and write one genre? Why do so many authors write a wide variety of books? Here are just a few of my thoughts.
- To keep from getting stale. If I were limited to a single genre, I think I’d find myself writing the same book over and over again. Sometimes it’s a good thing for an author to take a step back from the genre they always write to try something fresh. It’s like a palate cleanser. Then when they return to what they are known for, they have a new perspective, a rejuvenated mind, and are ready to write something fabulous.
- To challenge themselves. When I was first asked if I’d be interested in writing romantic suspense, I hesitated. After all, it wasn’t a genre I was familiar with. My agent encouraged me because, as she said, I was already writing suspense, just set during WWII. I read a bunch of romantic suspense novels and articles on how to write the genre. Once I got into it, I was really glad I had accepted the challenge. I hope that by writing in a different genre, it will make my writing better overall.
- Because sometimes stories just beg to be told. That’s what happened with my Amish romance. My family was visiting an Amish bakery we love to frequent, and I spied an Amish girl with Down syndrome by the barn. I wondered what it must be like to be Amish and have a disability or to have a child with a disability like I do. Did they go to public school? How were they treated? And that’s how the story was born. I just had to write it.
- Because opportunity knocks. This is a business full of ups and downs, droughts and floods. It seems like you either have no contracts or you have too many, so when your agent comes to you with a publisher looking for a certain type of book or you are approached to do a boxed set with a group of other authors you admire, you jump on the chance. That’s what happened with A Picture of Hope. Barbour Publishing let agents know they were starting a new series center around heroines of WWII. Of course, when I saw that, I was in. I went to my vault of ideas for WWII novels, pitched a couple, and they picked up A Picture of Hope. The bonus for me was that it is in the genre I most love to write.
- Because that’s what’s popular at the time. I had always wanted to write WWII, but when I first started in the business, it wasn’t a hot market. WWII novels were difficult to sell. So I wrote a novella first and then WWII. The market cooled, and I returned to my novella writing. Now it has heated up again, so I’m pleased to be back to writing WWII. Split fiction is huge at the present time, so after A Picture of Hope, my next couple of books at least will be split fiction. Along the way, I’m learning more about writing and having fun trying my hand at a different way of storytelling.
I realize that my Amish fans don’t necessarily go for my suspense or WWII books, and that’s okay. I’ve built a number of different audiences and have enjoyed getting to know readers who appreciate each of the genres that I write. My goal, no matter the genre, is to write well, entertain my audience, touch their hearts, and please the Lord.