What’s your genre niche?

When you go into a book store/library, what do you find yourself browsing for in a book? Is it a spicy romance novel that has your heart racing? Or a thrilling horror that has you screaming when your kids startle you… by merely going to the bathroom in the middle of the night? How about a travel through time to see the world how it used to be? Maybe you prefer an exciting trip into a world not quite like our own? There are so many varieties out there that it is mind boggling.

It is human nature to find something you know and like then to stick to it.

Growing up I tended to read more of the horror genre only sneaking my mom’s romance novels when I was really desperate. Then as I became a grown up, I read whatever book was passed to me from my mom and grandmother ; still mostly romances – Nora Roberts, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steel, etc.

Somewhere along the way, the three of us branched out a bit further, now my grandmother tends to pick up suspense and mystery novels; my mom is more of a thriller junkie.  Me, I still read whatever is usually passed on or referred to me.

As a writer you have to read a lot. They say read what you write and write what you read. Research your genre and see what works and what doesn’t.

How does that work if what you write isn’t necessarily what you like to read?

When I read a book, I want my characters to have a happy ending. I know, I know, how boring. Life doesn’t always have that happy ending and neither does a book. I don’t care, I like what I like and good should over come evil, the bad guy should get his butt kicked by the end of the story, and the couple that is madly in love should have their happily ever after. Oh how it kills me when a romance story kills off one of the main characters at the end.

However, when I write, I don’t follow my own reading rules. This makes things a little difficult when trying to juggle reading for pleasure and reading to better your writing.

When I started writing the first draft of my current novel, I had no clue where I was going with it. In fact, it had started out as a short story to let off some steam. Once I had finished the short story, I realized that it wasn’t completed. There were other voices that needed to be heard, other point of views that needed writing. After all was said and done, I approached Amanda with my first draft and asked her just how crazy was I in doing what I did.

Her response… Eek. You did what? With how many different…

Like I said, what I have been writing is not something I generally like reading.

Being able to write something that wasn’t overwhelming or confusing and had people wanting to read it meant a lot of research in finding what worked and what didn’t. I was left with the possibilities of having to change so much that I considered giving up many different times but I kept going, expanding my story and plotlines.

Then it came time to start reading what I was writing… and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Again I contemplated just leaving it as a first draft and cutting my losses.

Research is fun for me… as long as it is not a requirement. Then it becomes tedious. So not only was I faced with having to read a bunch of books that I was sure I would dislike, I also had the chore of figuring out what books would benefit me the most. Needle in a haystack. (Ha! more like a book in a library.)

As I mentioned earlier, most of the books I read come as recommendations from friends, family or other bloggers. I have been extremely lucky these past months, almost every single book that has been suggested to me has somehow helped me with my current book.

Books ranging from a YA ghost story, a dystopian collapse of mankind that spanned over 70 years in time, a YA written in present tense, a historical two-person view that absolutely broke my heart, and a multitude of books all written by the same author who has many titles under their belt exploring multiple POV’s.

As far as research reading goes, I hit the jackpot. And it was because I did not stick to one specific type/style of book. I had to branch out and jump around from shelf to shelf, picking my way through what works and what didn’t work for me. My job isn’t done, I am still reading and with each new book, I am better equipped with the knowledge that I need to do the best that I can do.

If I had stuck to only one particular genre, I’d have probably given up on my novel by now.

Do you have a favorite genre? And does it help your writing? Let me know in the comments.

~AJP

20 responses to “What’s your genre niche?

  1. You should read An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman.

  2. I skip around and read a bit of everything. I think it helps me more as a writer to see the differences in writing styles each genre has, and it has broadened my view of my characters and how I see my story.
    By the way, I finally have Big Little Lies to read.

    • Reading a little bit of everything really does help when you are a writer, in my opinion. Let me know what you think when you finish Big Little Lies, it was my favorite by author Liane Moriarty.

  3. I notice you didn’t say that when you started writing the novel and let us actually see some of it, we have all said “go for it. It works.” 😉

    As for what I read, well, pretty much everything. I’ve been known to resort to reading the list of ingredients when truly pressed and not sufficiently caffeinated in the morning to realize what I’m doing. The joy as a writer is that we don’t have to stick with just one genre when we write. There are very few “pure” genre novels any more. That makes writing even more fun, at least in my opinion.

    • I was saving that tid bit for another post… Can’t put all of my eggs in one basket, I’m afraid I’ll run out of things to say haha.

      Oh that’s funny. I can see you know, caffeine-dehydrated, staring at a box of cereal in the mornings. The fact that so many books nowadays are not “pure” genre is awesome, it opens doors, windows, portholes into writing a book.

  4. I agree with Amanda, you should mention that we all thought your multi-viewpoint story really works.

  5. I was going to, but really thought that would go good in a different post. Crap. Now you guys have me all discombobulated, way to go. 🙂

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  7. I did the same thing, I secretly read my mom’s romance books when I was a kid. As far as romance goes, I love Nora Roberts. I’ve also read a lot of Sandra Brown. I like Julia Quinn, Brenda Jackson, Johanna Lindsey, Amanda Quick, and Lisa Kleypas. I love thrillers and mysteries also but I don’t mind if they have a little bit of romance in them.
    There’s nothing wrong with wanting a happy ending. When I read, I mainly read fiction, I like to escape the real world and enter a fantasy land.
    I also, don’t write in the genre that I read. However, the novel I’m working on now will be my first crack at it.

    • I guess the cats out of the bag now with our adolescent sneakiness lol.

      Hmmm, I can’t wait to see more of this WiP… 🙂 Anything that starts with, my first crack at it, sounds intriguing.

  8. You know, I was the opposite. My mom read books about real life serial killers, murderers, that sort of thing. So dad let me watch horror movies, mom didn’t know but I snuck her books. No wonder I couldn’t sleep alone until I was 11!
    I didn’t start reading books “my own age” until Twilight hit the theatres and I hated the movie so decided to read the series and dragged you in with me! Mwuahahaha
    Now I read whatever I’m in the mood for, unfortunately reading doesn’t always inspire creation for me. Usually a dream or day thought gets my fingers flying on the keyboard
    Buuuut that was a loooong way to say “awesome post! I look forward to the next!”

    • Glad to hear other childhood stories of sneaking from the parents personal library. Inspiration hits everyone differently and I think that is a good thing. Otherwise we might live in a boring world! Thank you, I am glad that you liked my post.

  9. I’m broad in my tastes, but basically I like to read and write strong narratives. I like a “good story.” I also like exploring characters and finding hidden truths, but I’m not into genre mysteries, so much. Romance is my quick fix brain candy. I read big books, but have no desire yet to write an epic or series. Keep writing!

    • I’m with you, I like a “good story” too. (There’s nothing worse than reading a bad story :)) However, I tend to fail at finding the hidden truths and hidden meanings of things. Hahaha I do not think I’ve heard romance novels being considered a quick fix brain candy, I like it!

  10. Hahaha! 😀 I love the image of someone reading a horror/thriller that “has you screaming when your kids startle you”. Awesome.
    Great post. I used to read horror (Stephen King, Dean Koontz) and some Tess Gerritsen but I don’t read any of those anymore. I never read Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel but formed a negative opinion about them and stayed away. Deepest apologies because now I mostly read YA and MG and get judged for that. Also, mixed in with my YA and MG, are some favorite classics, and books that float my way and look great (currently, Station Eleven). I also always have a resource book (or five) next to my bed at all times.

    • Hmm, then you will definitely get a laugh when I tell you that it has happened to me on more than one occasion. When I read Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, the cats stalking around upstairs freaked me out so bad my husband made fun of me for days. What is it about YA and MG that causes judgement? It is just as strange to me as if someone looked down their nose at the fact I’ve never read a Jane Austen book. *Oh lift your nose back up Sarah!* I say read on! be it YA of MG, or Non-fiction biographies. (Just finished Station Eleven – thanks to you and Geoff btw.)

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