Everyone has their niche. Science Fiction, Romance, Comedy, Crime… that one genre that is the easiest and most fun to write. If you’re good at one, it may seem best to keep those muscles strong by writing in that genre alone. When you exercise, you should always maintain a well-balanced workout. The same goes for writing.
Not all genres appeal to everyone. I’ve never been good at horror because I’m so easily scared, but by learning about how Horror films are paced and the subtle ways Psychological Thriller use characters and their relationships with the plot. I may not write it, but I can study it.
There are dozens of genres to try. Biopunk, Magical Realism, Noir, Space Opera… there are so many options to try something interesting and new. It doesn’t have to be something you publish or submit to a contest, it could be just a personal project to stretch those neglected muscles.
Here are the biggest benefits of dipping your toes into other genres:
Not all genres are alike. Superhero and Sci-Fi are under the same umbrella, but writing them is very different. Superhero usually dabbles in pseudoscience while Science Fiction (not to be confused with Science Fantasy a la Star Wars) tries to stay the closest to real science as it can. By expanding your experience into other subgenres, you can learn more ways to manipulate the one you’re writing.
One example I really like is called Solarpunk. There are a lot of Sci-Fi subgenres ending in -punk that cover a wide variety of different interesting combinations of machinery, antiquity, and rebellion. While most of those subgenres are bleak and dystopian, Solarpunk is very hopeful and eco-friendly. It’s difficult to think of a hopeful dystopian, but research into Solarpunk can change your perspective on the whole Sci-Fi spectrum. You can even take different angles on these genres and apply them to other genres or combine them. A Clockpunk Noir film? Sounds new and exciting.
Things can get a little tiring if you’re commissioned to write only Procedural Crime or big action Spy films. Stretching out and trying something new, even if it’s way out of your wheelhouse, trying something new can be helpful when you return to your regular writing haunts. A refreshing dive into some High Fantasy can revitalize your mind to return to your usual writing, but without the tedium of going through the same motions.
There are a lot of genres to choose from. You don’t even need to write it to try them. Check out a film or book in a different genre than you like. Ever seen Jude Law in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow? Dieselpunk. There are dozens of movies and books on little-known genres that could open your eyes into different genres. You might even find something you like. Books are always a great source of to help with your screenwriting.
You’ll find the deeper you go into subgenres, the smaller and more connected the communities. Websites like Reddit and chat rooms like Discord are places where people with similar interests and tastes can talk and share ideas. You can meet new people with different perspectives who you can ask about the subgenre and how they can be combined or not. While genres may seem like they have cut and dry rules (Steampunk is not the same as Gaslamp Fantasy), but subgenres prove that rules can be bent and that there are different approaches to everything. If you have questions or ideas of your own, these are the places to place and develop them.
Other writers in other genres can be great resources for trading stories and ideas. Dark Fantasy can lend ideas to Urban Fantasy or Historical Fiction writers can help with historical accuracy. Sometimes, the people who are the most interested in these communities usually have the most information to give on the subjects. You may not find actual spies lingering in the Spy chat rooms, but it wouldn’t be a long stretch to find a variety of scientists discussing how realistic the science is in a Sci-Fi show or historians debating Westerns.
These are just a few ideas, but taking interest into different genres can be beneficial in many more ways than listed. Don’t take my word for it? Try some classics. William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the first Cyberpunk novel, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, one of the best examples of Gothic Horror. Find something you like and enjoy.
Beverly Peders is a Screenwriting graduate from Drexel University. She loves all visual writing mediums and has experience in writing plays, comic books, screenplays, TV sitcoms, and video games. World building is her favorite and she obsesses over anthropology and linguistics. In her spare time, you may find her trying to get over her fear of heights at a rock wall or adopting yet another plant because she can’t afford an actual pet.