Switching Genres

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When you’ve been loyal to one genre, your fan-base expects a certain story type. However, life has a way of evolving and changing who we are as individuals and as writers. What happens when you want to switch things up and try writing under a new genre? What should you consider before you make a successful genre leap?

Do your homework.

So you’ve decided to jump from Science Fiction to Mystery. First and foremost, read, read, read, and read some more mystery stories until you ooze understanding. While you’re reading, take note of what interests you. Here’s a sample list of things to look for:

  • POV – is it close third, first, does it switch?
  • Pacing – fast out of the gate, then slower? Or, is it like a runaway train the whole way through?
  • The setup – is there a prologue that tells the reader the what’s what? How do you as a reader know what’s happening?
  • Overall tone – is your new genre grittier than you’re used to, or less? How so?

Keep a notebook or a file of the things that appeal to you as a reader and see if you can incorporate your findings into your new project.

Understand the mechanics of your new writing technique.

If you’ve been writing one way for a long time, chances are you have it down. You know the ins and outs for laying out a story. However, each genre has its own quirks. Fortunately, we live in a digital age that encourages you to do your research from the comfort of wherever you are. Take advantage of this. There are countless articles available to help you navigate the intricacies of crafting a story in your new genre. Here on Inkitt, you can find several tips for writing fantasy, mystery, and romance with just a quick click. 

Consider your new branding.

Hopefully, you have an established brand already and if not, consider the power of branding yourself as an author. However, once you begin to write in your new genre, you might need to find new readers. This is where things get tricky. If you’re switching from sweetheart romance to horror, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You might want to start from scratch and consider starting over with a new pen name and a new look. 

Another route is to let your established readership know what you’re up to and let them tag along on this new journey. Use your newsletter and social media to announce your new plans and see what kind of response you get as you transition your brand. 

On the other hand, if you are switching from dark fantasy to thriller, it might not be that big of a leap. Your overall look may not change all that much and you can welcome those thriller readers into the fold without losing your dark fantasy fans.

Most important, be true to yourself.

It’s true. You want to be happy when you write. Your life will evolve and change and your writing will be stronger if you reflect that. I, myself, am in transition. For years, I have written dark historical fantasy but now that I have finished my trilogy, I would like to explore some of the themes of my previous work, but without the fantasy edge. 

In my trilogy, I wrote about dark mermaids lurking in the waters around Rhode Island, but at its core, The Merrow Trilogy was about female relationships. Since I have been working at an all-girls school, I realize the importance of exploring these themes in a modern way. The advent of social media has also changed the way women interact with each other, sometimes not for the best. I also enjoy a good thriller and have recently discovered that I would like to give this a try.  

My point is this, you need to write what excites you, whatever that it is. You deserve to be happy, because, let’s face it, writing can be a very solitary endeavor, so you should enjoy the journey not just the destination. 

Do you have a topic you would like us to cover? Let us know about your suggestion. 


About Author

Heather Rigney is a fiction writer, blogger, journalist, and art teacher based in Rhode Island. Author of The Merrow Trilogy--a dark, historical fantasy novel that deals with homicidal mermaids, the colonial suppression of women, and a present-day alcoholic funeral director trying to make sense of it all. Her writing has been featured in Motif Magazine and Stone Crowns Magazine. By day she teaches art at an all-girls Quaker school and at night she tries to be creative while avoiding too many sweets. You can read more about Ms. Rigney on her website: www.heatherrigney.com

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