Write and Read What You Know or What You Don’t?
Since I can remember I’ve read fantasy, mostly middle-grade and young-adult. Since I can remember, I’ve written fantasy too, again middle-grade and young-adult.
I wrote fantasy because it’s what I read, what I knew. It was probably instinct.
Many writers only write in one genre, some about only one character. Lee Child writes thrillers, all of them with Jack Reacher as the main character.
Some writers write in many different genres. Stephen King writes horror, thrillers, detective fiction, drama, fantasy, and once YA (Eye of the Dragon).
But does writing in one genre, just what you know, limit you? Or does it mean that what you write will be better than if you wrote something you didn’t know about or understand?
I used to write only fantasy, and for children-teenagers, but since I started reading more than just fantasy, for more than just middle graders and young adults, I’ve had an itch to write more than just fantasy too. For the past few years I’ve written books that are sci-fi, thrillers, crime fiction, high-fantasy and horror. Up until a month or so back, I’d still only written for middle graders and young adult.
Then I decided to give writing for adults a shot.
A month and two weeks later and I’ve finished the first draft of my first book for adults this morning. I’d had the idea for a while, was intending to use it for a YA series, but decided it could work better as a stand-alone adult supernatural horror.
Turned out to be some of the most fun I’ve had writing for a while. It was tough in places, but came smooth in others.
I’d never written for adults before, was worried it wouldn’t work or I would slip back into a YA tone at some point. But, as far as I can tell, it did work (but this could be bias–so I’ll have to wait until my agent reads it to find out the truth). I finished, and I’m as happy as anybody can be with a first draft.
So my answer to should we write or read only what we know or what we don’t is the former. If we only write or read what we know, we’ll never know what else we can write or read.