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Branching Out of the Box
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 2:35 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

Okay.  I have been trying in the past few months to branch out.  Somewhat for research purposes, somewhat for purposes of branching out.  Romance and lately dystopian were the books of choice.

But they don't grab me like fantasy.  Steampunk has appealed to me but I've never read any of it.

I've written romance and I tried to write steampunk.  Lately I've had the muse kicking around a dytopian idea of a sort.

But even then, with the steampunk and dystopian, I found myself taking them into a fantasy realm.

Also, these just don't grab me like traditional and contemporary fantasies do.  (Also, YA paranormal romance is a category/sub-genre that has me by the throat.  It's like the best of both worlds. so long as there's a plot outside the romance to balance the ooey-gooey stuff.)

Have you guys had this same sort of problem when you try to branch out of the fantasy your past sometimes seems so rooted in?

Because for me, it's a little frustrating.  And it makes me feel bad because I have a good writer friend who writes dystopian and it leaves me torn.

Danielle Bowers
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 1:30 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 280

Don't just branch out of the box, get out the grenades and blow that box into another time zone. You won't discover what suits you best without exploring your options so give dystopian a go. What is the worst that could happen? You write something that doesn't work for you and you shelve the idea? Even if it doesn't work out, you'll still be learning so it wouldn't be a wasted effort.
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 3:42 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

2 reasons:

1)I'm drafting a book right now and I guarantee you by the time I'm done another idea will have jumped up and grabbed me without letting go.

2) If I don't enjoy reading the genre I can guarantee you I won't enjoy writing it. Which means I'll never finish the project. I'll get a chapter or two written and realize it's not working and I've just wasted all that mental capacity world-building and writing words that could have been expended on a better, more enthralling idea.

Writing is such a long journey you better love what you're working on.
J Boone Dryden
Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 1:40 PM
Joined: 5/7/2011
Posts: 42

For a very long time, I was stuck in the mode of writing near-future, socially-aware dystopian pieces, all of which had a very "surprise ending" feel to them. It took one of my very good writer friends to point it out to me, and I went back and read a handful of stories and discovered that all of them started out in seemingly different genres only to turn into the same story style. I think in order to branch out and get out of that mode of going back to what's comfortable, you have to push yourself to explore, especially with your writing, and almost equally so with your reading.

If you're interested in dystopian fiction, go and pick some up and read it. Give them a chance before you give up on them; every piece you read is useful research for understanding why you are or aren't drawn to the genre. Reading is a very valuable tool (which I'm sure you already know), but sometimes -- and this comes from someone with a literature degree, so I know first-hand -- reading can feel burdensome after a while. It took me a long time to get back to where I could read for pleasure without feeling like I had to write an analytic paper when I was done. Now I have the same mentality, but I know that I'm doing it with the end-goal in mind of improving my own writing.

As for writing things that you feel are not up to snuff, it's not a waste -- at least in my opinion. It might not be something you want to pursue, but everything you write is practice. I have entire stories that got shelved because essentially they were good writing exercises. Something in them is flawed, and one day I might go back to them, but they're not a waste of valuable energy. Every piece of writing is valuable in its own way if you view it in a 'learning process' sort of way.

So I suppose that was a long-winded way of saying, "Yes, I've been there, but it's ok."
Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 7:13 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 224

My feelings are, write the world that feels alive to you. Why play in someone else's sandbox? Make your own. That is when I really, really enjoy reading. I enjoy when writer's branch out and find their own way.

Build a world and a story that you love, even if it crosses genres. Then you can really focus on trying to entertain your reader. Why try forcing the story to be something it isn't?

I love fantasy. I write it because I love the freedom it gives me. If you love fantasy and love the idea of steampunk, why can't you have both? I think you can. But if you don't read the genres, and don't enjoy them, I'm not sure you'll be able to write a story that people can _really_ enjoy. I feel that when I write, it isn't just about _me_ anymore, it is about the people who will read my story. I have to write what they will enjoy. I may not necessarily like every scene or every choice the characters make, but I will write it if I think it will entertain the people who may pay me out of their hard-earned money to be entertained.

At the end of the day, I think the most important factor is that you tell a story that readers _enjoy_. If the answer to 'Can I write this and entertain the reader', then I say go for it. If the answer is 'no', then maybe you should start really questioning why you're thinking about writing it. Just my thoughts on the matter, and just my opinion :3
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011 4:26 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I have to agree with those that say write what feels right. I find that works best. Even though I was raised on SF because my mom is a Trekkie, I write fantasy despite reading little of it. In high school I was surrounded and immersed in comic books and manga/anime which often blends bits and pieces of different genre's together. To me its not always about the genre, its about what works for your world and your story.

My current novel project is a fantasy. The world its set in is supposed to be in its industrial age, put there are laws holding back the progress. The tech exists, but not in the public or even the private sector. The lack of black powder or steam power has prevented the world from evolving as it should have, so warfare still uses swords even though the world has the printing press and there is a growing middle class due to trade and communication practices. I was "inspired" (I hate that word) by the tech boom during the American Civil War, and wanted to play with that idea. Because of this, I've had a couple of people tell me my book has a slight steampunk feel. I don't know if I agree with that, but that must be how they perceive it.

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