Thursday, 15 January 2015

Writing - Tied to a genre?

I've written about being influenced by outside opinions from many different points of view but today this is purely from the writers viewpoint.

From a purely personal position I don't know which genre I fit into which is a bit of a problem when it comes to publishing as I'm always asked for that category. I usually opt for adventure or mystery, and occasionally crime. The reason I struggle with this aspect of publishing is because as an old reactionary, I find the biggest turn off to any situation is when someone tries to categorise what you are or what you do. I become full of righteous indignation and storm on at length about 'who the hell are you to tell me what I write' or words to that effect depending on situation.

Let me explain. Categorisation is limiting. It pushes you and your work into a box which could then discourage potential readers from even looking at what you've done. I'm sure some critics and reviewers would even try and categorise Charles Dickens when in fact he wrote many different types of stories, to me he was the archetypal example of writing from where you're at. You hear people talking about their likes and dislikes and I can picture them in bookshops avoiding the shelves named as YA Fiction, or Murder Mystery, or Historical, depending upon what they see as their taste. 

My reading experiences are wide and varied and quite often are the result of advice or suggestions from friends or colleagues. This has led me to read Young Adult fiction, Historical fiction and even Booker prize winners (with varying opinions). I discovered writers such as Bernard Cornwell, Ben Aaronovitch, Philip Pullman and more, which if I'd categorised my own tastes I probably would never have read. Not all of these excursions have been successful but all have been interesting.

So what sort of books do I write? I picture Cessation because it is atypical. Cessation is a dystopian story with elements of adventure, crime, murder and more. It is also, indirectly, a commentary on the energy industry and the way that group of corporations hold ordinary folk to ransom. I feel that it is entertaining because of the feedback received one piece which said that the book would make a great TV series.

The reason I started with that novel was because I don't want to be categorised as a crime writer, or a writer of adventure stories or anything else for that matter. The fact that I have written 7 novels based around the character Patrick A Steele, the most recent above, doesn't mean that he has a stock set of responses and resembles James Bond or Inspector Morse. When I write there is often some aspect of current affairs involved, there are often deaths, travel is featured and some side swipes at big business and politics and much more. So where would you fit that type of story?

If you are a writer or just thinking about diving into that imaginary world from which you may never escape, don't put limits on yourself by self-categorisation, there are enough folk out there that will do that for you. Write as you feel suits your personal writing drive and let your stories develop and grow as they will.

Ruth Rendell

In your mind spare a thought for Ruth Rendell. She is a prolific writer having produced 60+ books mostly centred on crime and the character Inspector Wexford (played on TV by the late George Baker). The lady is 84 years of age and has recently had a severe stroke and is being looked after in hospital.

God Bless