Should I stick to one genre?

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justAnotherWriter

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The first novel I finished was epic fantasy..that was a few years ago. This year I've written a couple of apocalyptic thrillers and have decided that this (thrillers) is the genre I like best. I have some fulls and partials out on the first and am just starting to query the second. I've pretty much given up on the fantasy...I'm just not into it anymore.

My question is this...I have a very good idea for a historical ficiton, and I have the platform to sell it. I want to write it. However, if I do write it, this will be the one and only historical I ever do.

So the quesiton is...should I write it? What if I publish it, and the agent wants more, and I say "sorry pal, I want to do thrillers". And if I publish one of the thrillers, is anyone going to want a historical from me?

The best time to decide not to work on it is right now, when very little time would have been wasted. Then again, it's a pretty good idea, and this may the book that gets me published (but then maybe also the book that turns me into a one hit wonder and kills my career).

Any thoughts?
 

myrmidon

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A one hit wonder is better than a no hit wonder, right? I say as a writer, if you feel compelled to write (as most of us do, otherwise why would we put ourselves through this) that you have to write any of the great ideas that come to you. You not only owe it to yourself to write projects that you love and believe in but it's also the best shot you have of getting published - the more you write the better your odds become. Well, sort of.

A decent agent is going to be open to the next great book you write, regardless of genre. Would he/she prefer you write another historical fiction or another thriller if that's what got you published? Probably, but if he/she is worth their salt they'll be happy to work on any great new project of yours.

You can also always consider writing one (in this case I guess it would make sense for it to be the historical fiction) under a pen name. That way you could retain your reputation for you thrillers and also write your historical fiction piece.

I'm totally biased though because I secretly have an epic fantasy novel (series of course) percolating in my brain, even though that's not really what I write.
 

leradny

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By all means, write books in as many genres as you want. It makes things a lot more interesting for readers.
 

ChristineR

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I wouldn't worry about this until you get an agent telling you she could sell another thriller for way more than she could sell your historicals. In the meantime it could work the other way around just as well.
 

Karen Duvall

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I had this same discussion with my agent just the other day. I've always written fantasy/paranormal/thriller type books. Almost every book has some element of the supernatural in it. I'm ready to start on a new project, so we were talking about what that should be. Her point was that as long as I was passionate about the story, that's what I should write. She didn't want me to start on the sequels to either of the series books she's currently submitting (well, one isn't quite ready yet, but it will be soon) so she wants me to write something new. But what? I have a half dozen ideas, but they're not in the same genre. The one I'm especially fond of is a women's fiction idea along the lines of Fannie Flag or Billie Letts, but with magical realism ala Alice Hoffman. Different. But very character-driven and bizarre, which is what my agent likes. So the plan is to write the first chapter of the new book, send it to her, and get her reaction before going on from there.
 

ccv707

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Write anything and everything that interests you. I started doing historical fiction before moving into science fiction and I have a realist novel planned, and I hope to work on a memoir at some point in the future. In fact, mix and match different genres in a single work.

Don't let people tell you that you have to be stuck in one genre. Some examples...

Graham Greene wrote mystery/thriller books as well as what bookstores these days like to dub "literature".

PKD wrote several realist novels before his death, though all but one was published posthumously.

Ken Follet wrote primarily thrillers until 1989, when he published The Pillars of the Earth, a generational story about a cathedral being built in the 12th century (and he was not religious) and followed it with a sequel, World Without End, both books considered the best of his career.

Margaret Atwood delved into the science fiction realm, which she used to deny, with The Handmaid's Tale, and has written books of both historical fiction and romance.
 

blacbird

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Graham Greene wrote mystery/thriller books as well as what bookstores these days like to dub "literature".

In Greene's case, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish one from the other, even though he himself categorized his writing in this bipolar manner.

But there are a lot of writers who have produced good work in various genres, often, but not always, under pseudonyms. Famous examples would include:

J. G. Ballard
H. G. Wells
Max Brand
Philip K. Dick


caw
 

ccv707

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Almost forgot about Ballard. Indeed, many writers have written in multiple genres. If I were you, Justanotherwriter, I wouldn't worry.
 

Aschenbach

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In Greene's case, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish one from the other, even though he himself categorized his writing in this bipolar manner.

All his novels/writing occupied "Greeneland", in the words of some clever critic whose name I can't remember.
(I'm re-reading "The End of the Affair" shortly. Greene does tragic romance as well as he does Brighton razor gangs or spies).
 

Danthia

Write what you love, otherwise what's the point?

However...

I'm going to go against the grain here, and feel free to disagree :) Plenty of authors do write in multiple genres, but many of them did so AFTER establishing themselves in a genre and built a fan base and a proven record for sales. If you know now you're only going to write one historical, and you want to establish a career in thrillers, I'd say do the thrillers first. Or at least market the thrillers first, even if you write the historical now and submit it later.
 

History_Chick

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I'm curious as to which time period you will be writing in. :)

If its an American Civil War novel, step back now and rethink it. CW stuff is a hard sell in the HF market.

Could you do a historical thriller and combine the two together?

HF novels take a lot of research. Are you ready to plunge into that?

Just some questions you may want to consider :)
 

ccv707

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I say whenever the opportunity presents itself for you to write a piece in multiple genres, you should do so. It's a handy method of transcending what would be typical of you without completely alienating yourself from what you're familiar with.
 

Izz

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Write the stories you want to tell. Don't worry about genre.

If you get as far as being ready to sell you can always sell them under a pseudonym.

On a personal note: i just finished the first draft of a SF novel and while that's sitting in my drawer for a bit so i can gain distance from it i'll be writing an MG/YA first-draft centered around the sport of cricket, with absolutely no SF/F elements at all. But it's a story i want to tell, so i'm going to tell it.
 

Lordofthehunt

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As a writer who writes whatever pops into his head, I think you should write what makes you happy. No matter what the genre, your voice is always going to shine through, allowing your fans to relate to it.
 

scope

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Like Danthia, I'm going to go a little against the grain here. While I don't think there's anything wrong with a writer writing in multiple genres, I do think it works to an unpublished writer's advantage to first become associated with a particular genre, in your case thrillers. If you can get two or three thrillers published that sell well, you will have an audience waiting your next book, and an agent hungry to receive same to sell. That to me seems to be the best time for you to switch genres.
 

ChristineR

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Write what you love, otherwise what's the point?

However...

I'm going to go against the grain here, and feel free to disagree :) Plenty of authors do write in multiple genres, but many of them did so AFTER establishing themselves in a genre and built a fan base and a proven record for sales. If you know now you're only going to write one historical, and you want to establish a career in thrillers, I'd say do the thrillers first. Or at least market the thrillers first, even if you write the historical now and submit it later.

But more than one writer had found himself with a big success in historicals (for example) and found that everyone was asking for another historical, and so set the thrillers aside for a while. Or it easily go the other way, and then the writer becomes the thriller writer he always thought he would be. So until you reach the point where people (editors and agents, if not fans) are asking you for another thriller, I don't see any obvious reason not to write an awesome historical and see what comes of it.
 

justAnotherWriter

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I'm curious as to which time period you will be writing in. :)

If its an American Civil War novel, step back now and rethink it. CW stuff is a hard sell in the HF market.

Could you do a historical thriller and combine the two together?

HF novels take a lot of research. Are you ready to plunge into that?

Just some questions you may want to consider :)

It would indeed be a historical thriller...do you think that would make a difference?

The time period would be mid 15th century, the setting would be Cologne. I've already done the research, and as I mentioned, I have a platform for this (meaning I'm an expert in a certain field of medieval studies that plays heavily in this particular story).
 

Ervin

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You remind me of Ken Follet. He writes primarily thrillers, but in between has written two great 1000 page historicals. If you think you'll do a good job then go ahead.
 

Izz

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You remind me of Ken Follet. He writes primarily thrillers, but in between has written two great 1000 page historicals. If you think you'll do a good job then go ahead.
Great example. And you know what? Pillars of the Earth was, in my opinion, his best book. Far superior to any of his thrillers. Am I glad he diverged into another genre.
 

RJK

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As a reader, I'm a little disappointed when an author strays even from his series character. After reading several of John Sandford's Prey novels, featuring Lucas Davenport, I read The Empress File, featuring Kidd. First, the Empress novel is in first person, a jolt. Second, all new characters, big jolt. Sandford is a great writer, but I thought the Kidd novels were a shadow of the Prey series.
 

Charlie Horse

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Great example. And you know what? Pillars of the Earth was, in my opinion, his best book. Far superior to any of his thrillers. Am I glad he diverged into another genre.

Pillars of the Earth is one of the best books I've read, period. Yeah, I was thinking Follett as well when I read the OP.

I think you've pretty much gotten your answer in that you have to write what inspires you. Otherwise you'll end up with one big FAIL.
 

Sargentodiaz

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I've written/am writing 5 novels and only two of them fall into the same genre. I write what idea comes to me at the time I start.
When I'm not working on one of the five, I do short stories, tidbits I remember from my 70 years, or any one of a dozen other things.
Right now, I'm waiting to hear from two publishers on my Native American/Nature novel so I'm leaving those alone until I get an answer.
 

caitysdad

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go with what you love. I love creating, so I bounce back and forth to stay fresh. I would tell the stories you want to tell. My novel is supernatural drama, while the script I just started is comedy. I find being this way helps me stay sharp and the ideas flowing.
 
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