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  • Donald J. Bingle, Writer on Demand

Writing in Multiple Genres

My wife and I used to go to a lot of local art fairs (before all of our available wall space was pretty well occupied). One of the things about artists is that many, many of them find a style or motif they do reasonably well and which sells well-enough to support the art fair circuit lifestyle and they stick with it. So we would see an artist tent and recognize it as the "fuzzy tree" guy or the "cows in the field" woman or whatever. Sure, we sometimes bought stuff from these artists, but it always struck me as a fairly boring artistic life for them, doing the same thing, or at least the same kind of thing, over and over again--just cause it sells. Some writers, in fact quite a few writers, do that kind of thing, but probably not in quite as an extreme fashion. They may not turn out the same story or the same plot over and over, but they find a genre they like and stick with it. Now, genres are pretty big things and you can have a lot of individual creativity within a genre (and some do), but sometimes it is just sequel after sequel after sequel about the same thing. Frankly, I think that would bore me. It's not that I'll never write a sequel--I suspect I will. It's just that writing in one world or in one genre does not appeal to my creative side as strongly as it does to some others. Maybe this is why I loved parliamentary-style debate in college (where you get a new topic every round and debate extemporaneously) over national-topic debate. Maybe this is why I never really liked (or played much) in rpg campaigns, where you play the same character for an extended period, as opposed to RPGA tournaments, where I played a boat-load of different game systems and worlds and got a new character to play almost every single time. Consequently, it is probably no surprise that my business card as a writer notes that I have published works in the scifi, fantasy, horror, thriller, steampunk, romance, and comedy genres. I've also written short stories, a novelette, a novella, three books, a couple screenplays, a few memoirs, gaming material, and even a few poems. I wish I could say this was all quite deliberate, but the reality is that, in part, I kind of fell into it by writing stories for specific markets/anthologies that were looking for stories, rather than just randomly writing whatever I wanted and then spending an inordinate amount of time looking for publications to place them. This worked for me both because I can write pretty quickly, on topic and on requested word-count, and the limitations of the anthology topic or requested tale actually sparks my imagination. And, once word got about with some editors that I could write quickly to spec, I started getting requests to fill in at the last minute for someone who missed deadline or because the total wordcount came up short. Writing in multiple genres probably isn't the smartest move from a marketing standpoint. Fans of my dark comedy and humorous horror may not like my romance or scifi offerings or vice versa. Often, even big-time authors use a pseudonym when trying to break into a new genres, so as not to confuse the public, disappoint their regular readers, or impact their future contracts by having a bad sales outing in one genre affect their deal for books in their regular genre. It has, however, enabled me to keep getting stories published on a regular basis--including some that I do write out of the blue (though those generally take longer to sell, even though I think they are just as good)--and it has broadened my contacts with editors and publishers, to good results. I've tried to make the best of my multiple genre background with my Writer on Demand TM moniker and by grouping previously-published stories in my backlist and putting them out on Nook and Kindle in 3 or 4 story collections by theme, including so far: Tales of Gamers and Gaming; Tales of Humorous Horror; Tales Out of Time, and, most recently Grim, Fair e-Tales (4 dark/downbeat stories, two of which are set at a faire or carnival). Do you write in multiple genres? Do you have questions or comments about doing so? If you do, I'd love to hear from you. Aloha. Don

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