MAKING FRIENDS WITH MY GENRE


Originally posted on August 29, 2011

 

I love fiction. Writing gives me the opportunity to create whatever I want–within reason. I’m creating a whole galaxy of beings from my imagination. They can be as human as you or me; or as alien as my brain can conjure.

I don’t have to stick to earth conventions. I can be as Politically Incorrect as I want to be. And that makes me very happy. Fiction, however, is a broad canvas. With so many different genres and sub-genres, the universe is the limit.

As a writer, one of the first things I needed to do was choose my genre. Writing advice used to be that you should write

what you know. Well, that might work for non-fiction, but if we stuck to that for fiction, then, James Patterson has been a serial killer, Stephen King drove a demonic car and Marianne de Pierres has been jacked into a living space craft.

The better advice, is to write what you’re passionate about. That’s why I write Sci-fi and Poetry. Contrary to popular belief, though, I didn’t just sit down and start cranking out chapters. I started getting to know my genre. What is Sci-fi? How did it start? What are the different sub-genres and themes and which ones would I utilize? Who are the more famous and prolific writers and why? What are the awards and organizations? Who are the fans? And what are the rules to Sci-fi?

Writers must understand their genre. I think one of the biggest mistakes that novice writers make, is not educating themselves. For example, I write in the genre of science fiction, the sub-genres of soft sci-fi and social sci-fi. The following themes are what I usually emphasize–space opera and dystopian societies. Because they don’t know their genre, many new writers end up putting out books that won’t sell. Yet another nail in the coffin of many writing careers.

In researching the genre, I found fascinating information that even as a fan, I never knew. For instance did you know that you could earn a degree in science fiction studies? Or that some scholars believe the Sumerian Epic Of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest sci-fi texts? Others argue that only because of the Scientific Revolution (discoveries by Galileo and Isaac Newton, etc…) could sci-fi have come into being.

My point is, that if you are serious about your writing, you may want to take the time to become, at the very least, acquaintances with your chosen genre. It’s almost like getting married. If you don’t take the time to get to know your future spouse, how will you know if they are compatible enough for the long haul? They might turn out to be a serial killer who drives a demonic car while jacked into a living space-faring entity.

It’s the same with your chosen genre. If you, in my opinion, don’t take the time to make sure you really know what you’re getting yourself into, there stands the possibility for a War Of The Roses type of relationship. I, for one, want a happy marriage with my writing career. Here’s wishing the same to all of my writing friends.

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