Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What kind of writer am I?

I have some idea, but I often wonder if I should focus on one certain type of book.  For all my life, I've been drawn to speculative fiction.  Whether its magic, technology, or scary creatures, I find it interesting.  I have so many stories I want to tell, and they fall across multiple genres and age groups.

For example, take my two current projects.  The Armoth Cycle is an epic secondary world fantasy in the tradition of Lord of the Rings (of which, surprisingly, I've only read Fellowship).  The two main characters are in their late teens, but I still consider it an adult fantasy because there are other major viewpoint characters who are well into adulthood.  The Martin Mason series is intended for roughly ages ten to fourteen, or upper middle grade.  It is a contemporary fantasy more in the tradition of Harry Potter.

To non-fantasy fans, there might not seem to be much of a difference, but I know there is.  And most fantasy writers seem to focus on one over the other.  Not to mention the great variation there is even within epic fantasy and contemporary/urban fantasy.  For epic fantasy, just compare Brandon Sanderson and George RR Martin.  They both write epic fantasy, but it's not at all the same.

Most of my reading seems to fall in the realm of epic fantasy, but since there's so much variation, I have yet to figure out what exactly I want to write.  I feel like I'm caught in a trap, like I'm only able to think of ideas similar to what's already out there.  And then I feel like I'll have to stick to a certain type of book.  My Armoth Cycle is very much a quest fantasy, but that's not necessarily what I want to write.  I can't see myself writing quest after quest like Terry Brooks.  I like some variety.  I'm just not sure that's the best way to build readership.

I also would like to branch out into science fiction and maybe even horror, though I haven't read enough horror yet.  Nearly every idea I think of has a speculative element.  I suppose that at least puts me in a certain box as a writer.  I'm just not sure it's specific enough.  Add to that the fact that I have interests in writing adult, young adult, and middle grade, and it becomes clear that I lack focus as a writer.  It seems to me like most YA authors stay within the YA category, with occasional forays into MG.  I just want to write everything.

Some of this may stem from the fact that I became a reader later than most authors do.  Once I got started, though, I read like crazy.  As I said above, most of it is epic fantasy, but I also read urban fantasy, science fiction, and YA across all these categories.  For example, one of my favorites is the Hunger Games series, so naturally, I'd like to write a dystopian at some point.  I have countless ideas swimming around in my head, and it just seems like none of them are all that similar.

I suppose there are worse problems to have.  Maybe there's a market out there for a writer who writes across genres and age groups.  After all, if what I write is good enough, does it really matter?  I just worry that an agent might want me to focus in one specific genre and age group, and I don't know if I can do that.

Any thoughts on this?  Am I making a problem where there really isn't one?


  1. I would think an agent or publisher would most likely want you to focus on the genre and category which first sold them on you.

    Until you get to that point its moot. Write wherever the creative bug bites.

    The problem I am reading from this is that you think you may get pidgeon-holed to one genre and age group and no longer be able to express yourself through others. My perspective on it is that you will always be able to write whatever you want, you just may have to pitch the results to different agents or publishers or go an independant route to release your side material.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I think you got the idea pretty well. One thing I might consider is the use of a pen name. Some authors use different names for different genres and age groups to better differentiate their various projects.

  3. Interesting how do you draw the distinction between Speculative and science fiction. Or is there one? Where can we see some examples are you published in any literary magazines?

  4. Well, I consider science fiction a category of speculative fiction. Speculative fiction, to my understanding, includes fantasy (of all types), science fiction (including dystopian), and horror. I've wanted to try my hand in all of these categories. I just love stories that aren't set in the real world or in a real world that's not the world as we know it.