From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Genre I Could Never Write

I couldn't say for certain that there is one genre I would never write. Contemporary is my main focus, but there are things about every genre that interest me. And there are things about each of them that I really don't like.

The fear of inaccuracy would be hard for me in terms of historical fiction. Same with sci-fi, actually. I don't like the reused plots and stock characters that often come with modern thrillers, or the cliche sentimentality that is so easy to fall into in fantasy. I like contemporary/mainstream because I like natural and real-life, but that also means coming up with an interesting plot can be quite difficult.

Right now I am in the outlining/brainstorming stages of a young adult novel. My last MC was a forty-year old man and I intentionally want to go the other end of the spectrum. George had a story and something to say that wouldn't leave me alone, and my new MC is the same way. She must have it out.

The issue I'm having is this: even though I want there to be other major plot points besides a romance story, romance is still basically the main thread in most YA. I, for the life of me, cannot make myself care about a teenage love story. Maybe that's cruel, but I can't. Mostly I just can't make myself interested in the typical good-looking, jock, slightly cocky love interest typical in most YA novels. 

My point in all this, though, is that if there are characters and stories we want to tell, we can make it work. The typical teenage boy love interest doesn't work for me. But if I give him 7 or 8 extra years, black skin and a limp, then it works. Is that weird? I don't know, but its how it is. There is always a way to tell the story we want to tell.

Have any of you encountered something like this before, trying to work around genre tropes? Why are you drawn to your particular genre? Is there one genre you would never, never write?

Sarah Allen


  1. Those added characteristics will make for a much deeper character. What a good idea. I couldn't write historicals or sci-fi either - for the same reasons you say. I'd get too many things wrong!

  2. YA. Or even MG.

    Those are the two genres that I cannot absolutely write in. I can't even force myself to write G-rated short stories or happy endings.

    I will say that I did write exactly one short story (New Age) that was as clean as a baby's bottom, simply because I wanted to challenge meyself to see if I could write a clean story.

    I was able to get it published about 2 1/2 years ago, and it remains to this day the only clean G-rated story that I've been able to write.

  3. I am not particularly keen on romance either, most especially the YA variant. And I prefer seeing main/side characters with realistic flaws (like your african-american love interest with the limp), so I guess we also have that in common. Personally, I always try and tell the type of story I would like to read, not the type usually served over and over again due to genre conventions. Good luck with writing a kickass storyline with your characters. As usual, I look forward to reading it and meeting them. ;)

  4. I agree with you about historical fiction. Even when I'm reading it, I always wonder which bits are true and which are the made-up bits.

  5. Absolutely. In talking over a new idea with my writing partner, we dabbled with going for a YA story line. Neither of us have written YA before. When I realized I couldn't bring myself to write about high school, we decided to rework it as an adult story. It completely changed, but the spark of the new idea remained.

    Much love an respect to all YA authors, by the way. I cannot do what you do, right now.

  6. I guess each writer trying to make their way around the parts of the genre they don't like are usually what make a good story, right? I've always wanted to write a book in every genre, just for the fun of it. Of course it wouldn't end well. ;)

  7. Your first problem, Sarah, is that you've stereotyped YA. First of all, they're not all romance stories. Not every girl is in love with the hunky jock boy. And you don't have to follow any kind of pattern to write it except the main story elements. It's got to have a beginning, middle, and end. It's got to have relatable characters, tension, and action.

    If your story is about a teenage romance and you don't care for teen romance then your story will suck.

    Write what you care about.

  8. Sarah - Have you tried talking with a bunch of teens about what's going on in their lives? You might get some struggles or conflicts that have nothing to do with romance that you could build on.

    For me, I couldn't write horror. Can't read it so I can't write it.

  9. I like elements of sci fi and horror, but I don't think I could write within those 2 genres. I remember reading some horror stories that made me afraid to just have the book in my house--so I probably would have a difficult time living and writing those sorts of characters! :)

  10. I think it's amazing that you are more interested in writing beyond any sort of typical expected characters in a story. The fact that your characters are layered and different and venture beyond stereotype is something that I have no doubt will take you very far with your writing.

    For me personally, YA fiction is something I love. Despite the formulaic romances, I love that it is the tread that pulls self-discovery along with it.


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