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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Genre Fidelity

Dear Liana,

I noticed that you Tweeted about writing a play. You have links to short stories that aren't science fiction. I thought a writer was supposed to stick to one genre. That's what I'm always told. Why do you get away with it?

Confused in Birmingham

Dear Confused,

Like most bad answers the truth is "Because it's me".

I'm writing the play for one of the local churches to look at. My friend (Amy Laurens of Inkfever) is helping me with the understanding that her local church can use it if they want. Neither of us are dedicated playwrights. We aren't looking to make money off this flirtation with scritps. We're donating our time and talent to a good cause.

That's the beginning and end of the play story.

The short stories are a little different. Every now and then I dabble. Short stories aren't easy for me, but they can be fun when they hit. At the instigation of friends I submit short stories too. I figure, if they get published it's free advertising for me. If they don't, oh well. I start the submission waves with the the Pro markets that accept sim-subs and work my way down.

What's the overall affect on my career?


Yes, there are people who get offered novel deals from short stories. And agent sees your story, loves it, calls you up, and a deal is made! Tada! You have a better chance of winning the lotto, honestly. A nice pipe dream, but not something I'm willing to bank on.

And it's not that you need short story credentials to get a novel published. That isn't how publishing works. You can publish your first story. Or your only story. Or your twenty-ninth story. It's more a matter of lining up the perfect manuscript, with the perfect agent, and the perfect editor, with the perfect timing. Publishing is praying for a Perfect Storm.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's OK to branch out. A little. Try to keep your novels and your career in one genre until you have an established fan base that will buy anything with your name on it. But feel free to experiment behind closed doors.



  1. I agree. If it's something we enjoy, then there's nothing wrong with trying it out, even if it's a little different than our usual work.:)

    And congrats! I gave you an award! Check out my blog for details:)

  2. Hang on! Did you say "ta"? There's a little Leith in you! Great post and cleverly written I must say. Glad to have found your blog.

  3. Telling a writer that they have to stay with one genre is like telling a flower it can grow in only one field. It may not grow as well in some fields but it has to try out many to find the best soil in which to flourish.