Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Passion for Your Genre

And now to tackle the first question from 8 Questions Every Writer Must Ask Themselves: How much passion do I feel for the genre I’m currently writing?

Why is having passion for your genre important?

Passion is Tied in with Production
Think about your significant other. The more love and passion you feel for your lovebird the more you value finding ways to improve and grow the relationship. Same goes for writing. More passion = better material produced.

Interest & Inquiry Lead to Layered Plot
Do you remember the stage early on in a relationship when your mind flooded with things you ached to know about your date?

The more you care about something, the more you’ll naturally be inclined to want to learn more about it. You’ll ask more questions related to the genre and in the process of doing this, you’ll likely create a more textured plot

Genre Hopping for the Wrong Reasons
There are enough genres to choose from, it’s like a smorgasbord of options under the sun. Every writer will feel the temptation to genre hop when the going gets rough, an agent doesn’t bite or a publishing house isn’t chomping at the bit to pick up your work. Check your motives if you’re feeling led to make the switch. Is it simply because the road has gotten bumpy or did you never really feel it for your current genre?

Becoming a Surface Skimmer
Instead of solving the problem in your work, you spontaneously decide you’re better suited for Amish fiction when you were focusing on contemporary romance. Whoa. Hold those horses. Two completely different genres requiring two different skill sets. In order to improve you must be willing to go deep in your current genre. Dig down to the root of the problem if it’s a problem that has you thrown. Don’t let boredom or discouragement turn you into a surface skimmer.

Long Haul Thinking Creates Discipline
A marriage is forever, no? Hence, the vows, promises, and contractual agreement before God and man. Forever…yes.

I’m not saying you need to be married to your genre, but you might be surprised how much more disciplined you’ll become if you enter into a mental commitment with the genre you are gifted to write.

Shoo Fly to Less Compelling Ideas
If you feel a passion for your genre you won’t be distracted by smattering of ideas that constantly bombard writers. You’ll learn to take notes on the good ideas and dissect them later.

Putting in Time
No mystery on this one, you invest more time in what you love.

Test the Love
Try other genres. There’s no rule that says you can’t dabble in dystopian YA novels when you normally write romance. (This is especially the case before you secure an agent and/or house.) I highly recommend getting a feel for your strengths. Before I fell in love with writing novels I primarily wrote nonfiction. My career required me to write newsletters (so very many newsletters). My love for novel writing has far superseded any joy writing nonfiction inspired.

But I’d never have experienced the rewards of novel writing if I never tried it.
Can you think of another reason why it’s important to ask yourself if you have passion for your genre?

*Rosslyn Elliott recently
posted on this subject. Worth a read!
**photo by flickr


  1. Great thoughts, Wendy!

    So far I have not veered from my first love: romance. Even in novels, movies or stories of other genres, the romance angle is always my favorite, even if it's just a quick glance in a movie or novel filled with action-adventure. I think it's my best fit...we'll see as time goes on!

    God bless you today.

  2. I love your point about digging deeper into your genre. It's so true. I'm finding it much easier to dig deeper into my particular genre the more I write. There are certain traits that every genre has that are unique to that genre, and in order to perfect the language needed for the genre, you must be willng to practice those techniques. Jumping across genres makes this a little trickier. (Not impossible, but as a newer writer, I hope to get good at one before I start jumping again.)

  3. I like the way your refer to writing as a relationship, not unlike a marriage relationship. I feel the same way with my writing. There are ups and downs, but I still love it. And I still get goosebumps when things happen just right.

  4. I like your idea of marrying your genre. I'm dating a few right now, but need to make a commitment with one. I'll consider your question of what I am most passionate about, and get that ring on my finger! Thanks!

  5. So many encouraging and thoughtful posts on the blogs I follow this morning! This one especially struck home for me: "I’m not saying you need to be married to your genre, but you might be surprised how much more disciplined you’ll become if you enter into a mental commitment with the genre you are gifted to write." Actually, it was more more the "genre you are gifted to write" part that really got me.

    I had always thought of genre as being a desire, not as something toward which people are gifted. (And I'm not saying that writers can't write for multiple genres and write them well, of course, because many writers do. But many writers also have a root genre that they come back to.)

    This helped me with something I've been struggling with in my WIP. Thank you!

  6. Thanks for the shout out! I like the new angles you bring up here. This subject also reminds me of something a friend told me before I started my dissertation: "Make sure you really love your dissertation topic, because you are going to be thinking about it for a *long* time." :-) Best advice I ever received!

  7. Great thoughts, Wendy. My passion is historical romance. It's what I like to read, so it makes sense that I'd enjoy writing it. I tried my hand at a contemporary once, but I soon learned that my Voice is more suited to historicals. One of the best things about writing out of one's passion is that it's fun.

  8. Oh my goodness - I so agree with ALL your points. And I ditto what Keli said above. I've tried contemporary suspense and romance and though it's fun, I keep wishing I could throw in a wagon, or a shawl, or a woodstove. Hence, I returned to the 1800's with pleasure :)

  9. I LOVE romance in general and I think I could write in any genre, but I prefer the contemporary setting combined with woman's fiction.

  10. Such good points! Thank you. Lots of food for thought.

  11. Okay, dare I share that I don't have a genre, but I don't hop around mindlessly (I write what the story calls for,)that my first love is NOT romance, but my first contract IS a romantic mystery. Call me naive, idealistic or deluded, but I want to be a Susan May Warren or Rene Gutteridge who writes multigenres. Not easy or recommended, but that's my desire. Only time will tell...and I'm not that naive to know it's a pie in the sky dream. I'm an eclectic reader AND writer (right now) and while I KNOW I will have to settle down eventually, I still like playing the field!

  12. Great stuff, Wendy girl. I write romance. Can't imagine writing anything else. Even when my novels tend toward Women's Fiction, the romance is always a HUGE thread.

  13. Wendy, that's a great list to think about. I'm kind'a in the middle, tried non-fiction, and then NANO -write a novel in a month came along, and now I have a really, really rough draft. But I love it. (I still have non-fiction stories out, too.)

    Can one do both?

  14. I am still trying to figure out where my work fits. I think it might be women's fiction. That's the problem when your first book was NF.

  15. Gwen, I admire people who write romance. I throw it in some of my scenes, but a whole novel around it...not so sure. So cool that you are passionate about romance. Ha! Okay, early warning it's been a long day and these responses might by slap happy.

    Heather, I thought of a frog. Jumping. Hopping. Genre switchers = frogs.

    V.V., Isn't that the truth? When I first meet my characters I swear it's like falling in love.

    Lynn, So the novel proposes. I wondered how that analogy would play out. Thanks for answering that.

    Oh Laura, cool to help! I do believe people are gifted to write a specific genre (now, that could also be two or three depending on the finesse and skill of the writer).

    Rosslyn, You so aren't kidding. I check this before I even begin writing w/ my characters. Make sure I can stand them (even in all their ugliness) b/c I know I'll be spending time working with them. Excellent point. See why I linked to you!

    Keli, That would be my most difficult genre. Historical...requiring a ton of research and romance, a genre that if I tried in earnest might make my husband laugh so hard he'd spit out his soda (soda, not pop hubby. I'm a Yankee).

    Jaime, 1800s--ah ha. See you really do learn something new every day. Even though I read your posts somehow I missed that about you.

    T., I'm with you on that one.

    Karen, I love serving up the food. I'm hungry right now as a matter of fact. Chocolate anyone?

    Gina, Test that love, baby. That's what I say. Absolutely one can strive and thrive in more than one genre. Hop around thoughtfully all you want. It's cool when authors do that & do it well.

    Katie, Ah you romantic! I'm laughing and I don't even have reason to be. Just thinking about you makes me laugh. See, that's the kind of friendship we have. Miss talking with you.

    Karen, That's why testing is so key. And your question makes me think of actors who try to become singers and vice versa. Unless your Gwyneth Paltrow it seems a difficult thing to pull off.

    Tabitha, You know, I wouldn't try to guess with most people, but I've read enough of your posts to guess women's fiction, too. I thoroughly enjoy your writing (which is another clue to me that it's wf).

    Okay, I need to sign off before I get too goofy on you. Teeth have been worked on. Dog has been worked on. Been a crazy day of running around.

    Enjoyed the convo. Truly glad you take a moment to absorb my words.

    I've got a wild question ready for you for Friday.

    Hope your genre love grows and grows!
    ~ Wendy


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