A Writers’ Group Exercise–Learning Your Genre And Others’ Too


PC: milena mihaylova via Flickr Creative Commons

At my writers’ group/critique group, we have embarked on a quest of learning more about genres. Not just the genre we write in ourself, but about each others genres as well.

It is a fact well known that literary writers often harbor a prejudice against genre writers. The worse thing is though, genre writers often are prejudiced against other genres. Horror is too gory. Romance? Eww … too sweet. Science fiction is way too technical. Fantasy makes no sense whatsoever. And it goes on and on and on . . .

I don’t believe in such compartmentalizing as a reader. I read anything and everything, as long it’s a good read. As a writer, I think it’s more of a mistake to confine oneself like that. I would even go as far as saying every writer should experiment in different genres.

No, that doesn’t mean I’m going to start working on a romance novel tomorrow. I’ll suck at that, I know. But learning about how romance stories are supposed to work, what makes a great romance novel and making that knowledge a part of my writing toolbox seems like a sensible thing to do.

At the Rockville Writers Group, we are a diverse bunch in every possible way, including our writing. Since we are so different from each other, there is always a whole lot to learn from our works, writing habits, interests and so on. Discussing each others’ genres has to be good. Sure, it would be some work digging up information and then talking about it to people instead of the usual reading and critiquing we enjoy every meeting.

Will it be worth the time and effort?

Hmmm . . .

I have discovered in myself a tendency to write across genres. Science fiction is my first love and will be my true love, but I like to mix it up when I get a chance. For instance, I enjoy thrillers, and I’ve added bits and pieces of it in my serial, Elementals.

Obviously then, learning about the ins and outs of thrillers from a person who dabbles in writing them will certainly be educational, maybe enlightening. Surely the others will find a lot to learn from me as well.

Which brought me to a realize this. Often, even within the genre we work in, we only scratch the tip of the iceberg that it is. For example, if I like writing apocalyptic science fiction, chances are I’ll stick to that for a long time because I’m comfortable doing it. Never mind writing one, will I even learn about the ins and outs of military scifi?

Nope, I wouldn’t. Unless, my peers were waiting to hear about it from me.

See? It’s making me learn my own thing as well. What a great exercise in the making it is!

Let’s do it then!

All excited about this new project, I dived in trying to get to the bottom my genre.

Haven’t come up for air yet. Boy, is science fiction a vast genre or what?

That’s not saying I’m not enjoying my deep dive. This is for sure though–my writer friends are in for a long lecture at our next meeting.

During my research, I came across this wonderful presentation by Rachel Williams. Check it out if you are into science fiction.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in interesting stuffs, on writing

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