When I first started writing, all I wrote was science fiction. Year after year, I wrote science fiction until I wrote my first mainstream novel and then found a groove in urban fantasy. Like most creative endeavours, writing is an art. One that takes practice to perfect. So how did a science fiction writer end up publishing various types of fantasy novels?
I learned to write outside the lines of the type of writer I thought I wanted to be. I practiced writing in other genres and styles. I expanded my writerly horizons. I learned how to deepen the emotional impact of my scenes by practicing romance and erotica. Neither are genres that I want to spend a lot of time in, but they are different style of writing than what one typically sees in most speculative fiction genres.
The more I dive into the world of writing, the more I learn about what other genres can offer each other and every genre has something to offer to writers.
From contemporary fiction, I learned the impact of character driven stories, from fantasy and science fiction I’ve learned the importance of world building and overarching storylines. Mysteries, thrillers and suspense can teach you a lot about pacing and the importance of the little details.
There is so much to learn that sometimes I wonder why so many authors rigidly write and practice only a single genre. I do know that this can work well for some people and can make them an expert in their chosen genre, but I also believe that learning other genres—even without the intent to write and publish in that genre—can expand your abilities.
When I started on the journey of learning genres, mostly it was so I could better understand what makes a genre what it is. I didn’t go into it with the intention of actually writing these things. I simply wanted to a better understanding.
While I am still learning, I have had the good fortune to help guide other writers on their journey into learning new styles of writing, even as I learned from them about their genre. Even something as small as writing microfiction can teach you a lot about editing and conciseness. How to make an impact with few words.
Writing outside the lines you have drawn in the sand can you teach you a lot. I highly recommend giving it a try. You never know what you might learn.