Reading & Writing in Specific Genres #IWSG



This topic vexes me. 

A few lines from my 2016 post, Footloose and Fantasy-Free

I wish my writing fit neatly into a specific genre.

[it’s easier to market your book and gain readers] if you can categorize what you’ve written.

The thing is, I write what I want and it’s not always tidy. 

Five years later, I’m still in the same unanchored boat. Bother. 

I do enjoy the freedom of writing without borders, without expectations… But, honestly, for simplicity, marketing, and pitching, it would be nice to have a specific genre.


Boom. Quick and easy. Sometimes I’d love to say, “I’m a romance writer”, or “I write sci-fi”, or “I’m working on the seventh book in my cozy mystery series”. Alas, my genre doesn’t really exist. 


As far as my reading preferences, they can’t fit into the genre I write (because of the not existing thing).

I know what I don’t enjoy reading, but, other than that, I just go for what pops off the shelf, grabs me by the collar, and screams YOU MUST READ ME. (Always obey the books, my friends. They are powerful and all-knowing.)

Fun fact: Next to all sorts of of grown-up books, my shelves are chock-full of children’s, middle grade, and YA books. (Before you judge, there are quite a few truly remarkable, beautifully written books out there in these categories.) 

Whether it’s poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, I enjoy quality writing. (There are exceptions. Sometimes I just crave a bit of escapism, you know?) All that to answer the question: What motivates my reading choices? Great writing. 


What do you like to read? What motivates your choices?

If you’re an author, do you tend to read in the genre you write in? (Do you even have a specific genre? Please tell me there’s someone else out there who’s genre-free.)




IWSG Question of the Month March Prompt – Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice? IWSG



(Insecure Writer’s Support Group) Insecure Writers Support Group Badge This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 





50 thoughts on “Reading & Writing in Specific Genres #IWSG

  1. I read across the board—like you, things that pop out yelling READ ME! I write different things that take my fancy—short stories, a memoir on the go. I have, however completed a mystery/detective story, which I suppose falls into a genre. When I find an agent I suppose they’ll decide which specific genre it is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true, too. When you spend time finding a genre your work fits into, it’s possible an agent will decide it’s a subtopic of that or a completely different genre. It is fun to write whatever takes your fancy, though, isn’t it? 🙂


  2. I did get lucky with the genre there. I have always known I’ve got an epic fantasy series on my hands. I think you could probably fit into the umbrella of speculative fiction, even if there isn’t a specific label you adhere to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You also have a…sci-fi/fantasy? Actually, what would Cera be? There is a lot of mish-mash cross-over with genres now but, even with that, you have sort of an umbrella genre. So, yeah, I could be under the speculative fiction one, I suppose.


      • Not much science in my fantasy, as proven by my husband when he complains “lightning doesn’t work that way” and I’m all, “It does for my character!”

        I’ve considered Cera adventure fantasy more than anything else, playing on tropes of genre fiction.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I am an author of memoir and mysteries, plus, and I read all kinds of genres. Not being able to categorize what you write is difficult. My problem is I write in several genres, so readers can’t see my pen name and know what they will get. I mean, we know what kind of story to expect when picking up Patterson or Koontz or even Sue Grafton. So marketing my books is difficult because the categories are all over the place. Enjoy writing without borders! Writing is freeing. Go for it!
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

    • See how nice that looks? 🙂 It was easy to read your comment:
      I am an author of memoir and mysteries…

      Exactly. You pick up Koontz or Grafton and you know what you’ll be reading. So I know what you mean about your readers not knowing what they’ll get but they do have some idea. You have a few genres but not a dozen (or an unidentifiable one). I’ll try to enjoy the freedom. 🙂


  4. I write without genre in mind, which is probably a mistake. I’ve written romance, detective stories, and literary. My current novel is a cross between literary and women’s fiction, but since I haven’t an MFA to my name, I feel like an imposter saying it’s literary. And women’s fiction is more marketable. I recently learned of a new genre: upmarket. Which it could also fall into.

    As for reading in my genre, I read everything, from trashy romance to highbrow literary and in between. Well, except for dystopian fiction. That’s too depressing for me.

    Is there an author who writes similar to you? See what genre they fall into. Otherwise, show your work to other writers (or bookstore employees) and see what they peg it as. Or describe it as “a cross between…and….” Like, When Harry Met Sally meets The Martian Chronicles. (I have NO IDEA what THAT would be, but sounds interesting.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Like you, I write and read what I want when I want and for me, myself and I. I have no idea what genres I write. I read as much non-fiction as fiction and used to read considerably more non-fiction. And I know, I know, that is far to broad a term nowadays. Yep, it’s got to be well written and credible regardless of genre or it gets put down. Books find me when they think I’m ready for them. I wrote more about this once.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always written for me. I do like that aspect of the genre-free life. 🙂 Yeah, it really needs to be well-written for me to continue. It’s rough for me to keep going with a book that’s not. That said, I do read some horrible, eye-rollingly bad writing sometimes when I need an escape and the story has pulled me in but it’s rare.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Insisting on identifying a genre is something box tickers are particularly interested in, but it’s not really necessary for the sun to come up. Writing without borders is the best way to write, in my opinion. If someone requires the box tick, just tell them you write dark fiction. That’s not a genre? Says who?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Even though I’ve written plenty of crime fiction, I’ve also written a middle grade/young adult novel. And am considering writing sci-fi or fantasy (maybe a bit of both) with some mystery thrown in. Maybe.

    As for my reading, it’s all over the map. I like the way you put it. If a book yells out, “Hey, you! Read me!” I tend to do so. 🙂

    I gave up long ago trying to pigeonhole myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Although you have a few genres/audiences, you can still identify them, you know? Like MG/YA. Crime fiction. See? Neat. (Liking the idea of your sci-fi/fantasy/mystery mash-up.) 🙂

      True. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I just wanted something to hang my hat on. Or my umbrella. 🙂


    • It can be restrictive but it can also be neat. So much easier to just say that you write fantasy or sci-fi or horror. It is difficult to narrow down most writing, though. As far as reading, I agree…stories to be enjoyed in every genre. 🙂


  8. I used to read tons of fantasy, Sarah, but I’ve expanded and learned the same as you – great writing is great writing, and it’s more important than genre. Even though I write fantasy, the genre is so broad that I find that characterization limiting as well as inaccurate depending on the reader’s expectations. It’s probably worth coming up with a log line to describe what we write. Hmmm….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. Great writing is great writing. I don’t read as much as I’d like to anymore so can’t bring myself to continue a book that’s not written well. There are way too many beautifully written books out there.

      Good point. Fantasy is a very broad genre and it does bring about different expectations depending on what people have read in that genre before. FANTASY… That is one huge umbrella you’ve got there.

      Log lines would be much more accurate in certain situations. (Actually, as I’m typing this, I’m thinking all situations. Right? I mean…yeah.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • They get me thinking, too. That’s why I write them. I’m selfish that way. Truly.

        So glad it’s got you thinking, too. How would you describe them? I think you could narrow each of your series down to different types of Fantasy. Intriguing…


  9. I read a fairly wide range, though there are certain genres I lean towards, particularly when I just want to be entertained. As you know, when it comes to writing, like you I prefer to go with what I enjoy, and that can mean a mix of genres appearing in one book – though I’m trying not to throw so many in as I used to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, the too-many-genres-in-one-place book. But a lot of books now combine genres and/or are a mish-mash of a few genres. It’s becoming much more common, I think.

      Yeah, entertainment reading brings out my love of certain genres, I think. Especially when I’m using it as escapism. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is becoming more common, Sarah, but largely in the Indie world because the publishing houses and the retailers don’t really know where to put them. And I have some sympathy with that, because I’ve found it difficult to promote both of mine. Even though they do easily fall into the category of escapism.
        Hope life is treating you well


  10. I didn’t want to settle on a genre at first either. Not that I’m any kind of expert, but I suspect whether or not one does may depend on what one’s literary goals are.

    I, too, read a little of most things.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I definitely read in the genres I write. I’ve always said I prefer to read “otherworldly” books – I live in the real world every day. It’s nice to escape it. I’ve seen more books mashing up genres lately – I’m enjoying the blends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I love that: I live in the real world every day. 😉 I do like to escape with a book, too.

      This is fun. I expected so many more to say they read in the genre they write in but I thought you would not. Your reviews are so varied. At least it seems that way. And, yes, I’m seeing more and more mash-ups. It’s great for genre-free writers like me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Some reviews you see on my blog are book club selections that challenge me to read outside my usual genres – a good thing. Sometimes I’m a bit tired of longer fantasy and sci-fi books and need a mystery or even the occasional light and fluffy book.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, true. I’ve noticed that. (Side note: I’d like to find a book club.) I do love the occasional light and fluffy book. Those are great, relaxing reads. (My nerdy, reading-all-the-time kids used to call them brain breaks.)

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Taking Writing Risks #IWSG | Lemon Shark

  13. I’m attempt to write what I’d class as a Middle Grade Murder Mystery. I always thought that I’d write for adults, but this is where my writing seems to sit and I love audience! If I’m honest, I don’t really read much kidlit, but I do talk to my daughter and her friends a lot about what they like. I’m reading some at the moment, but am a little wary of accidentally pinching ideas from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I say throw out what you thought you should do/would do and go with what feels right. 🙂 Sounds great!

      Honestly, it’s so helpful when writing younger stuff to read books aimed at the age group you write for. If you’re worried about the ideas thing, maybe skip that genre and just read tons of other MG books. Just a thought. Good luck!


      • Sounds good. 🙂 I love MG books. There are some amazing authors out there writing for that age group. Good luck with your historical mystery. That’s going to be some fun research!


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