Lately I’ve been toying with writing in different genres. I’m most comfortable with memoir, digging up stories from my past and expanding them through research. So far I’ve finished one manuscript which looks at the relationship I had with my father and attempts to uncover some of the secrets from his past. It took me four years to write, with much of my time spent in research. Although I was often frustrated and sometimes felt as if I would never navigate to the end of the story, I loved the process and especially the research.
But I’m often tempted to move outside of my comfort zone and try to write for a different audience, or age group, or both. Deciding on a new genre is a bit like choosing a holiday destination. First you have to select the destination which suits you best. Up until now you might have been comfortable relaxing on a beach, so you might decide to climb a mountain instead. Or perhaps a cruise might be a better decision as then you still have the ocean close by. So, keeping in mind some stories from my childhood, I’ve been considering books for children.
I realise I could never write or design picture books. I might be creative and I’ve been known to sketch now and again, but I am certain my artistic efforts would be nowhere good enough for picture books. Besides, I never related too well with babies and toddlers, cute though they may be.
But what about an older age group. I have deliberated about writing chapter books for children and I do have a few ideas for stories, some of them from my own experiences. I am the first to admit I know nothing about structuring stories for the older child, however I’m not averse to learning. So, I might look up a few courses, read a few books in this genre and try to get a feel for what is required.
I would have to stick to the 9 – 12 year old age group as I’m not sure I would be any good at young adult novels. For me, the content of these novels is too difficult to navigate.
Then again, I’ve always enjoyed detective novels. I believe I’ve read (and re-read) every Agatha Christie, most of Ngaoi Marsh, almost all of Dorothy Sayers, some of Raymond Chandler, a few PD James and nearly all of John Le Carré, amongst others. Surely, being so familiar with the genre, I could write in it. But as hard as I try to think of any plot, let alone a clever one, I cannot come up with anything. And I realise, despite having read so many examples, I am not very interested in writing about murder or mystery. I much prefer to read about them.
I cancel out horror, science fiction, romance, historical fiction and fantasy. I have never liked the first two genres and romance isn’t really my thing. Apart from the Narnia series, I’ve never been attracted to fantasy and, although I’ve occasionally enjoyed Georgette Heyer books, I’m not too keen to write them.
After weighing up all of these options, I’m leaning toward trying my hand at children’s chapter books. I’ll start by looking up courses and finding some examples. It could be the beginning of a whole new writing adventure.