It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG, and the hashtag is #IWSG.

This month’s question:
What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

There are a few genres I would be too scared to tackle, and some I know I should never attempt. I wanted to write romantic novels at one point when I was a lot younger, and I made it to the halfway point with a contemporary romance set in the South Island of New Zealand when I ran out of steam. It felt like a case of mentally choosing a direction, but my heart wasn’t in it, so I couldn’t sustain the energy levels needed to finish the project. As Gina Cole said at the launch of her book Na Viro last Friday night at the New Zealand Society of Authors meeting, “Writing a book is tough.” Short, sweet, and to the point! All the fates have to be aligned, and your energy has to come from the inexhaustible fuel supplied by conviction. You can’t fake story writing. It needs to come from a deep source within or the well runs dry pretty quick.

I wouldn’t dare write literary fiction because I neither read the genre nor enjoy it. Throughout the recent writers’ festival, I sat in on several live interviews or “conversations,” and two of them were with authors of highly-praised literary novels. Those were the only events where I felt out of place. Truth is, I’m not as intelligent as I look. The thought that went through my head multiple times while watching those interviews was, “I think this conversation is above my pay grade.” A lot of the points they made did not compute.
Likewise, horror and all variations thereof leave me cold. It’s another personal no-go zone. I don’t have the stomach for horror. The only horror story I’ve read – apart from critiquing my friend, Maria Cisneros-Toth’s book, Spooky Tales – was Ghost Story by Stephen King (Peter Straub). The latter’s novel freaked me out big time, and I couldn’t stop thinking about Ghost Story afterward. I didn’t like feeling afraid in my own time because of a book, and it put me off reading horror altogether. The only horror movie I’ve ever seen was Dawn of the Dead when I was a teenager. I lasted five minutes watching that movie, and then I stood up and walked out of the cinema. It’s the only time I’ve ever done so. And I’ve not seen a single horror film since. The genre is not my bag. I don’t want nasty images replaying in my mind long after a movie is finished. And the same goes for the darker sorts of fiction. I don’t want to read threatening material or have it cloud the bright sky of my imagination. It feels like I need to protect my good spirits and keep my environment positive. My friend would call it ‘keeping my armour polished.’

Another genre I avoid is picture books. There was an extended period in my twenties when I wrote picture books for the 0 – 5-year-old range. I spent at least a decade developing the stories and illustrating them. Looking back on this time, I learned a lot about writing through labouring under the constraints of the form. The economy of language and tightness of composition is essential, along with an ear for the rhythm of the spoken word. However, I prefer using lots of words, and I felt confined by the genre and miserable. Eventually, the limits of the form began to feel like a straightjacket, and I felt driven to escape.

Alternatively, my first ever experiment writing middle fiction was like lighting a flame. With more generous word limits, I could have fun with words and spend more time getting to know my characters. I could explore the plot, the story arc, and so on. The natural fit for me was to write fantasy because that is the genre I read as a child and still like to read now. When I think back, it wasn’t a matter of consciously choosing what I would write at that point. I picked up the pen and that’s what came out. Fantasy middle fiction fit like a glove, and I’ve been playing happily in my sandbox ever since.
What about you? What genre do you avoid? Which do you embrace?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol

Let it be easy. ~ Anon

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  1. emaginette says:

    I do love middle grade. I read it and write it when the mood strikes. They’re just fun.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Damyanti Biswas says:

    I don’t think I would have a flair for writing children’s books. I feel like you need a lot of talent and creativity to make things interesting for them and keep them hooked. I think I’ll stick to my crime writing 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Olga Godim says:

    I’m with you re both literary fiction and horror. I don’t like feeling scared and I like action in my stories, which seems to be lacking in literary fiction. On the other hand, I never tried writing for children or even teenagers. Everything I write is geared towards the adult readers. I think you need a special talent to write for kids, an ability to step back into your own childhood and look at life from that alternative perspective. I could never do that, but admire the writers who can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      I agree with the comment about stepping back into your own childhood, Olga. Our tutor in the writing course I took last weekend said in order to write for middle fiction we needed to interview our ten-year-old selves and ask ourselves questions. . She said, ‘Inside, I’m always eleven. How old are you?’ And then, Beverly Cleary said once that she felt the reason she’d been successful was that she ‘could easily remember being a child.’


  4. I certainly don’t read or enjoy literary fiction either. I definitely think we should write to our strengths and what we enjoy and avoid the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. elegancesicy says:

    I feel you with literary fiction however I have been told that my writing could fall under that heading. I of course fell off my chair and asked the person if they got me mixed up with someone else! It’s a goal that is as far away from me as a twinkly star but it’s there!

    Stephen King, lordy may I’ll not be picking up one of his again. I kept making myself re-visit his books every few years because people rave about them. Every. Single. Time. I regretted it. I am scared of the dark, I do not need fresh horrors from his twisted imagination!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ahtdoucette says:

    I work at the library, and we frequently read the picture books just to read them, because they are fast, and some of them are Really Good. I never thought about it quite that way, how hard it must be to break down a story into so few words, but I’ve often thought – that was a work of art. I’m sure that yours were brilliant, but I’m also glad that you are able to spread your wings more with other genres!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks. I know what you mean about picture books, Anne. Over the last decade, we’ve slowly let go of all my boys’ picture books but we kept probably fifty because they are classics and bear re-reading at any age!


  7. I think many writers stick to one genre. I wouldn’t mind having a go at a crime novel, but that’s a fleeting thought. I’m happy with adult fiction and memoir-type work.

    Liked by 1 person

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