1. Fife
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    Fife Senior Member

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    Do Writers get Stuck in a Genre--Their own Doing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Fife, Nov 12, 2012.

    Why is it that writers like Stephen King get stuck writing Horror? Or Norah Roberts stuck in Romance. Do you think it is because they are passionate about this genre or that feel pressured by their following and their publishers? My wife has told me that Norah Roberts has created a pen name to write in other genres. Are there any thoughts on this issue? I'm just curious as to what other writers and readers feel about this.
     
  2. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    Stephen King has written lots of different stories covering lots of different genres. He wrote the story behind "The Shawshank Redemption" and the Green Mile, and he wrote the original story which became the film "Stand by me". He also wrote a series of fantasy books. He has also written stories under different names.

    Iain Banks writes fantasy/SiFi under the name Iain M Banks and all his other books (including "The Crow Road") under Iain Banks. He said in an interview that readers can be disappointed if they pick up a book by an author expecting it to be one genre, but it is something else entirely.

    I am sure there is an element of pressure by editors etc, but obviously if you are a successful author you will find it easier to get published no matter what you write.

    I also read an interview with Peter James (he writes the Roy Grace books based in Brighton). He said that when he started he wrote spy stories, but his agent said there was no market for it. He then wrote one horror novel which became a success and then got stuck for a while writing horror (I have read a couple of these and they weren't for me). He became bored with these books and decided to write crime fiction.
     
  3. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I haven't formulated a feeling on the matter, really.

    Some writers stick to a genre because that is who they enjoy writing. Some writers write what sells, though their passion lies elsewhere. We all make decisions for ourselves. We choose what to write. But, we live with the consequences of our writing. If we write what is commercially viable, we can make money. If we write what we have passion for, we may not make any money. If we write racist books, only racists (those who can read)will read our books. For some people, passion and commercial viability fall in line. For most, they do not.

    Why do you assume Stephen King was "stuck" with horror? Are you aware that he chose to write horror? His publisher didnt assign him the genre when he showed up for "world renouned author" orientation.
     
  4. Fife
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    Fife Senior Member

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    I obviously don't read very much, so categorizing Stephen King as horror has a lot to do with my misinformed stereotype of him, but I think you guys pretty much answered my question. I was just wondering if there was a lot of outside pressures for authors to maintain certain genres.
     
  5. steve119
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    steve119 Senior Member

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    Stephen king also wrote The Running Man under the pseudonym Richard Bachman which is so not horror. The main reason most authors seem to stick to one genre is simple that is the genre they enjoy writing
     
  6. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    They may adopt a pseudonym for marketing. A name is a form of brand, and diluting a brand reduces its market share, usually.

    Another reason a pseudonym might come in handy is to prevent over exposure: a fecund writer like King could probably hammer out a book every four months. Saturating a market is another way to kill it.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's simply a matter of choice... based either on personal preference, or ability... just as an auto mechanic may specialize in foreign cars, or an attorney on family law... or an agent on fiction...

    some writers don't enjoy writing in any other genres and some only write well in one... while others can and do write in multiple genres...
     
  8. bob1965
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    bob1965 Banned

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    I know I enjoy writing horror and expressing morals through the themes of horror fiction. I read King and Grisham, but I don't know anything about the law, so I wouldn't try to do what Grisham does. Horror is open to anyone who can make a scary story. In my opinion.
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I'm a reader as well as a writer, and as a reader I'm stuck in a few genres. Fantasy, sci fi etc. I don't feel as though I'm in a rut though. I just know what I like and can't find a hell of a lot of enthusiasm in anything else. So why would I want to write something I don't enjoy reading?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. paulaitchison
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    paulaitchison New Member

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    I think writing in a specific genre all depends on why you choose to write.

    If you are in it for the 'money' and are fortunate enough to be (or trying to become) a best selling 'Genre' author, why ditch the 'Genre' audience you have worked so hard to build up just to satisfy an itch for writing, say, a trashy romance?

    If you write because you love to write you can work under a different name. That's why Ian Banks uses Ian.M.Banks for Sci-fi and why other big name authors use pseudonyms - they can flirt with their eclectic reading tastes and still keep their core 'Genre' audience for the big cash advances.

    I wouldn't say that you are necessarily more creative if you genre hop with every project, or that you are stuck in a rut if you just stick to writing the same stories in the same genre over and over. It's just a personal choice, as mammamaia said.

    However, I would suggest to psychotic, who asked "why would I want to write something I don't enjoy reading?" that it's worth reading and writing outside the boundaries of your favourite genre so that your work stays fresh. What would Star Wars be without the political dictatorship of the trade federation? And that's a concept George Lucas clearly 'borrowed' from legal/political thrillers - whether he liked reading legal/political thrillers or not.
     
  11. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    When I saw the title of the thread, I instantly thought of Clive Cussler. Every time I see the cover of one of his books, it has a boat on it. Every time I read the synopsis on the back of one of his books, it is about a male lead with a ridiculously masculine name along the lines "Biff Meatsquat" or "Punch Fistarm", who is always some sort of adventure. As you might be able to tell, I really don't like Clive Cussler's books.
    As far as I know, Brian Jacques only ever wrote personified-animal-fantasy. I tried to get into them as a young kid, but... meh.
     
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  12. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    I don't believe it's the writers doing that they want to write in the genre they do. It's the readers doing who expect a certain author to pump out the same stuff they enjoy reading. It's the consensus and the masses who dictate if a writer should cross genres or stay inside his bounds or not. Ultimately, a writer writes for his readers, and so the safe thing to do is write in his own genre he's accustomed to. If it ain't broke, why fix it?
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that may be so in some cases, but i doubt it's true of all, or even most... as witness authors who use a nom de plume for their 'other' writings...
     

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