Sylvester Stallone and Crossing Genres

There seems to be a lot of discussion lately about whether it’s a good thing to write multiple genres as an author. Is it better to seek out the wider audience by hitting several genres, or to stay loyal to your followers by continuing in the same genre you succeeded with?

So let’s talk about Sylvester Stallone.

I have no love of Rocky or Rambo or The Expendables or really anything he’s done, with one exception. In 1991, he was in a movie called Oscar. Hilarious. I quote it incessantly. (Sorry, Boss!) One of my favorite comedies of all time.

There are others who think it’s utter ridiculousness and would rather spend their time watching what I would term visual torture. I have my preferences, you have yours, they have theirs.

What does this have to do with writing?

There are always going to be people who won’t like your work. It’s the occupational hazard of being an author. If you change genres, there will inevitably be people who say you should have stuck with your original, even those who say you have no business straying outside of your genre. Jane Austen herself complained, “Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones.–It is not fair.–He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths” (from a letter to Anna Austen, September 28, 1814). If Sir Walter Scott couldn’t avoid getting lambasted for changing genres, I’m afraid you probably don’t have a chance.

So?

You, as an author, are not writing for readers, agents, publishers, editors, or anyone else. You are writing because you have a story inside of you that has to be told. Don’t forget that. The second you start writing for someone else, your writing will take a dive faster than Spiderman 3.

Should you write in various genres? Certainly not if you’re doing it for the sole purpose of garnering a wider audience. But if you’ve got a story and it just happens to be in a different genre from what you’ve previously written, go for it! Give it to the world and be proud that you were able to get another world of characters and places and relationships and rules out of your head and onto the page.

What do you think? Do you write in several genres? Do you read books of various genres from the same author? Are you going to go watch Oscar now because I told you it was amazing?

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6 Comments

  1. I write romance, but do it in a variety of sub genres from paranormal to historical. I think your point about writing the story you’ve thought of is great advice!

    You have to write what inspires you, even if it’s in a genre different to what you normally try 🙂

  2. I write in various genres, including some cross-genre (mystery with elements of psychic and a dash of sci-fi). I write the story without a thought about genre until someone asks me about it.

    It didn’t even occur to me that marketing a cross-genre novel would be a challenge–where does it belong on the bookstore shelf? Which shelf? That, I think, is the biggest thing going against authors who write cross-genre. Trying to pitch the book without turning the agent off because of the cross-genre thing is a challenge, but I won’t change the story because of it.

  3. I write young adult fantasy and young adult paranormal, preferring to stay within a YA area. That being said, I was asked to write an m/m piece, and I am taking a stab at that – just because it’s new to me writing/reading-wise despite knowing several people in the LGBT community. I also have future ideas for middle grade fiction (sub-genre unknown at the moment).

    I think switching genres is a good way to learn about other areas. You don’t necessarily have to publish what you’ve written, but taking a poke at something you wouldn’t usually can teach you a lot about other genres and may even surprise you, showing you something you didn’t know about yourself as well.

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