I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m not working on a horror novel right now. Even though horror is my main reading genre, and I have written horror in the past, my current WIP is a romance novel. Still, I am an avid consumer of horror media, as well as fantasy and mystery novels.
While it is important to read within your genre when you’re starting to write a novel, I would also like to stress the importance of reading outside your designated genre, in order to grow into your own as a writer.
Broaden your horizons
One of the main reasons for reading outside your main genre is to broaden your horizons as a writer. What this means is that you should be on the lookout to learn something new from your reading, to pick up on things and to read about experiences that you’re not used to.
Reading outside your genre allows you to do this quite easily. When you open yourself up to different genres, you open yourself up to different reading experiences, many of which may be extremely different from the ones that you’re used to reading.
Reading different genres also allows you to tap into different emotions in writing. All good writing involves suspense, from will-they-won’t-they romance to thrilling whodunnit. However, the type of suspense used in each genre is done differently. By reading across genres, you can see the whole spectrum of emotions each placed into different contexts, which can be really helpful to bring back to your writing.
At the end of the day, certain emotions are present in all genres of writing. Suspense is one example, but so is sadness and joy. There’s a sense of joy when a romance is fulfilled, as is there one when a fantasy protagonist achieves their goal. You can find a common thread of different emotions in every work that you read, which can be really helpful to bring back to your own work.
Make a Genre Salad
After making your first foray into a new genre, you may soon be ready to try something new: the genre salad, also known as a crossover. You can start taking elements from other genres and incorporating them into your own work. For example, you can start adding horrific elements to your fantasy story or adding romance to your thriller novel. Adding elements of other genres can really help to spice up your work, and add more interest to the tropes of the genre that everyone has seen before.
Reading outside your genre is a great way to re-think the tropes you put into your works. You can borrow tropes from other genres, which can strengthen and add some variety to your own writing, as it will throw in some tropes that you may have never seen before in your chosen genre.
Reading outside your genre is essential for every writer to do, as it helps you broaden your horizons and rethink your genre tropes.
is a young writer from Ottawa, Canada. When he isn’t in school, he enjoys reading, writing, crochet, and playing with his two cats. Their favorite genres are horror and fantasy, and they enjoy all things strange. You can find him on Instagram at @nate_fahmi
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