Sunday, May 24, 2015

Writing Prompt: Your Least Favorite Genre

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt aims to challenge you to write something outside of your comfort zone.

Take the opening scene from your current work in progress (or any opening scene you’ve written) and write it as if it was a genre you don’t like. 

Can’t stand historical romances? Find a way to set your sci fi adventure in the past. Not a romance reader? Turn your cozy mystery into erotica. Dislike thrillers? Make that love story a serial killer thriller.

Skill tip: Think about the elements that go into a scene and how they shape reader expectation. You’ll have to find specific details to get that genre feeling across, and write in ways you never have before. Forcing yourself to think “what makes a thriller?” will shed light on what makes the genre you like to write in and give you insights on how to make those elements stronger.

Don’t worry if it’s not good, that’s not the goal here, and it’s hard to write a genre you don’t read. The point is to push yourself to do something different and shake up how you think about your genre.

Share in the comments!


  1. Here's my take on a horror. I gave myself the willies, no wonder I don't like the genre. :)

    The first time I laid eyes on the house I knew it must be haunted. It stood among a grove of old, sleepy oaks whose bark grew just so to look like faces watching you. The house, too, watched you.

    Not to personify it or anything, for the yellow streaked windows and the wooden door did not resemble life-like eyes. No, you felt the impression more than saw it. For as I stumbled up the drive, the hairs on the back of my neck rose, tingles shot up and down my spine, and I squirmed as if bearing the weight of my father’s scrutiny once again.

    Every fiber of my being told me to turn and run away. Yet, my gaze remained transfixed, mesmerized as one is to a fire’s flame. You know it to be dangerous but you cannot help be drawn to it for it brings pleasure as well. Is the same true, I thought, for this house?

    My body propelled me forward. Almost without realizing it, I had climbed the sunken steps and rapped the door.

    Nothing stirred in the house, but I could hear someone whispering nearby. It was too soft to make out the words. I glanced over my shoulder. “Anyone here? My car broke down, and I wondered if you had a telephone I could use to call a tow trunk. My cell isn’t picking up a signal.”

    The whispering grew louder, but I still couldn’t see the speaker, nor distinguish the words.

    A cold rush of air brushed against my arm.

  2. Damn it, I lost my whole comment. So here I go again x)

    I kind of followed you advice of writing in genre that does not belong to you comfort zone, except I am writing the whole novel instead of just the intro. I want to practice my skills and learn how to finish a book before I start writing for the genre I want to be known for. So I started a YA romance. I usually find them super cheesy and poorly written (or maybe I should give a chance to another series or novel than Twilight...!) so I thought it would be easy to write in that genre. How wrong I was!
    I underestimated the difficulty of making a love story interesting by itself and avoiding the dumb cliches specific to the genre, while still sticking to the audience expectations.

    Anyway, what are you up to these days Janice?
    I'm guessing you must be pretty busy, but in case you have the time and interest in writing new articles, I have a question, that I am sure I'm not the only one to stumble over.
    How do you write a character that is "bigger than you"?
    Let's say that you know your character would totally have sex with this stranger, but you as a person cannot relate at all. Or she would say these horrible words that would make you blush if you had to read them aloud. Or your character is super clever, but somehow you have insecurities about your own intelligence.
    How do you get around these issues without feeling like a complete imposture?

    Thank you for your useful work, as usual! Have a wonderful day ^_^

    1. Romances are so much harder than most give them credit for. I have huge respect for romance authors. Some smart and savvy writers there.

      For a "bigger than you" character, it's all about putting yourself in their head, same as any other character really. You're writing what they'd do, not you, and characters need to feel and do whatever they'd feel and do. If it makes you cringe a little, that might be good, as the character is pushing you out of your own comfort zone. As long as it's true to the character, embrace it :)

      You're not writing extensions of yourself, you're creating fictional people with their own views, styles, and ideas.

    2. Thanks for your reply, Janice! ^___^

  3. Damn, now I look like a fool cause for some reason, my computer was stuck on this article and I was sure it was the last you wrote!
    Glad to see that you are actually as super productive as usual =P

    1. No worries, it happens :) I've been on major deadlines this year, so I have cut back a little, but there's still new stuff every day. Got some great writer friends to help fill some spots while I get my novels revised.