Writing Discussion

Why do you write what you write?

Growing up, I read a variety of genres, but as time passed my favorite genre turned out to be fantasy. It was a natural extension of my love for old books. I’d go to the library and find the oldest hard covers I could dig up. It was a bit like looking for buried treasure and these books inevitably turned out to be stories like the Three Musketeers, the Man in the Iron Mask, The Swiss Family Robinson. I loved the sense of adventure, and the lush settings of other times.

I still read omnivorously. I still go to the library and pick random books off the shelves. I’ve made wonderful discoveries that way, but the bulk of my reading has always been fantasy. Writing it seemed natural since it was what I enjoyed reading most.

However, one day I was sitting in the car with a few ladies when someone suggested watching a movie which happened to be a bit of science fiction. The response was a sniff of disdain, and a complaint about such things being so utterly unbelievable they were not worth the time.

Now for some reason the response felt like a smack in the head. The idea of only ever valuing stories based on what was plausible by today’s standards, seemed shocking. If all people believed this, I thought, this there would never be scientific progress, we’d still think the earth was flat.

I vowed from that moment on, never to let the laws of reality constrict my imagination.

I’m interested in playing with the what if’s, the things that we don’t quite understand. Sometimes what comes out is a bit strange or odd. It might not fit a single genre, but I’m not too worried about that.

Have you made a conscious choice about the genre you choose to write in? Why do you write what you write?

16 Comments

  1. Aw, I wish my answer were that thoughtful… I love your anecdote, and I agree with you that it’s ridiculous for people not to like scifi. I think they probably do and they don’t even know it. (Example: Time Traveler’s Wife? Totally scifi.)

    For a long time I thought I would write literary fiction, because (like you) that was what I liked to read best. Or so I thought. For YEARS, I thought that. And my required school reading and my college writing program reinforced that. But when I finally started reading for pleasure again (late in my senior year of college, and then much more after I graduated), I realized that the stories I gravitated to were NOT in fact literary fiction.

    I read widely, but across all genres, what I am attracted to *most* is a strong female protagonist and a compelling story (plot). Those two things come in all sorts of packages — dystopian YA, chick lit, literary fiction, scifi, and more.

    Once I realized that’s where my passion was, I stopped trying so hard to be literary and started listening to my own instincts. Now I don’t even label myself, I just say “fiction writer.” Certain stories/books of mine can be categorized, yes, but I truly don’t feel comfortable saying (for example) that I’m a YA writer when I know I have at least 2 adult books I’m dying to finish.

    So I guess I’m sort of genre-less, but at least I know what genre I’m NOT trying to fit into anymore!

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      Learning to trust your instincts is a good thing. They usually lead you in the right direction! You know it’s really quite freeing to ignore labels, genre or otherwise 🙂 Thank you for sharing Kristan!

  2. I call myself a speculative fiction writer. I don’t stick to only horror, fantasy, or science fiction, but usually write in whichever genre is speaking to me at the moment. When I read, I rarely read books that don’t have some sort of element from one of those genres (or their various sub-genres), so it makes sense that I like to write in the speculative fields. I haven’t thrown a blanket over the more lit-oriented fields (and I’ve had a couple published that didn’t have any sort of speculative element), but they usually don’t interest me, and therefore I don’t write in that style.

  3. That story is sort of a sad story… in that I’m sad that the person in question was so short-sighted that they’ve cut themselves off from a world of wonder and imagination.

    I, too, focus very heavily on Fantasy. But I’m not completely monogomous, in that sense: I have too much speculative fiction love to contain it entirely in a single genre, even one as expansive and forgiving as Fantasy. So I occassionally have to dabble in Sci Fi and other Speculative genres (a more recent interest has been Steampunk, which has a lot of the new hotness to it).

    1. It is quite sad. That’s why it struck me so hard. I quite like the umbrella of speculative fiction. These days I find I’m straying a lot more regularly from the strictly traditional fantasy genre, and mixing it up.

  4. Fantasy is what I prefer to read the most, but I don’t know whether that’s why I enjoy writing it as much as I do. I think, for me, Fantasy just offers the most amount of creative freedom, and this matched my personal preference of “making it up as I go along” (which just happens to be a theme in my one non-Fantasy novel I’ve written so far).

    Fantasy is all imagination, and I think this is a major reason for me.

  5. Fundamentally, because this stuff interests me. If you visit my blog you see absurdism, realism, humor, Horror, swords and sorcery, moms in the grocery store – I write whatever interests me. For at least a decade I’ve had enormous respect for the Eudora Welty types of the world, who could write anything, write it well, and write so diversely that if the stories weren’t titled you wouldn’t know they were from the same person. A single signature voice can be great (love it in Stephen King), but it’s not my aim. I’m interested in a lot of elements of life. I like to get caught up in characters, both when I’m writing and when I’m an audience member (the TV show M*A*S*H has no progressive plot yet I watch and re-watch it primarily for the characters). I pursue those elements in whatever genre feels apt. Very frequently it’s with some element of mythology, fantasy or outlandish humor because those are exaggerations of the natural that emerge naturally from human experience. The mom who moves at five times the speed of her family isn’t real, but that she has to in order to be on top of everything can wind up saying many real things. All fiction is make-believe, even the staunchest naturalism. I prefer to take advantage of my make-believe fiction to go where reality doesn’t, to avoid being redundant.

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      I also admire the kind of writer who is versatile enough to tackle and subject and genre. I think you do an excellent job of mixing things up on your blog. There is, however, a strong sensibility or voice that runs throughout all the pieces you write, whatever the actual subject matter may be. I’m not sure if that’s intended or not, but it’s not a bad thing.

  6. I’ve written everything, depending on the period of my life! Love-stories in my teens, sci-fi in my 20s, fantasy in my 30s, and now I tend to mix everything… OK, still sort of specializing on fantasy, but haven’t read much new stuff… and soon I’ll become an historical novelist, how’s that for evolution? 😉

  7. I’ve read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. So it’s natural that I’m interested in writing in those areas. However, I don’t really intend any of my subjects. I like to riff off of subjects and that drives many of my initial ideas. Sources include, other writers, comics, magazine articles, overheard conversation, and images.

    Although, I’m very receptive to ideas, I can’t really say where they come from and I’m willing to entertain them regardless of genre.

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