I Never Thought I’d Ever Write This Kind of Story

When I was a kid growing up in Arizona, I always signed up and completed the summer reading program at the local library. I always wanted the pizza party and certificate at the end of the summer—a book nerd’s version of summer camp without all those outdoor activities.

But one summer, the library decided on a different program: you needed to read five books from five different genres. I read the first 20 books no problem—and then I hit sci fi.

Ugh. How I hated sci fi. It took me the other nine weeks to read five books. The only books I liked were about a girl falling in love with her cyborg (I wished I remembered the title!) and the novelization of Piers Anthony’s Total Recall.

I even hated one of the preeminent sci fi movies ever filmed: Blade Runner. (I even deconstructed it in a film critique class in college and still hated it–and thus I became “the girl who hated Blade Runner.”)

As I grew up, my tastes changed. I started liking coffee and that Snuggie blanket. I also found a few sci fi titles I LOVED:

-Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game
-Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games
-Neal Shusterman’s Unwind
-Andy Weir’s The Martian

But I never thought I’d write one of these tales.

Until I did.

Why Am I Writing In a Genre I Hated?

Without telling you what I’m writing (I’m a superstitious sort who doesn’t discuss the story I’m writing—I’ve learned the hard way about this one), I’ll use an example with another subject:


First of all, I hate watching zombie anything on TV. But I have read a few books on Zombies that were decent:

Carrie Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth
Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies
Max Brooks’ World War Z

The first two, by Ryan and Marion, were fantasy. They focused on what the zombies did—ran hyperfast, ate a brain and could experience the dead person’s memories, fell in love with humans—that were based on the “that can’t happen with science!” These two were fantasy.

In Brooks’s tale, he focused on how the zombie-ism spread and how it could be stopped with a vaccine. That was a sci fi book.

Let’s take another example: Ironman vs. Superman.

Ironman is sci fi. His parts could scientifically happen.

Superman is fantasy. His parts were grown on the make-believe planet of Krypton.

In my YA story (which is currently in Draft 4), it would fall under sci fi because I’m focusing on the science and no one’s doing anything that Samantha could do with a twitch of her nose.

In the story I’ll be writing next, it’s a women’s fiction focusing on the exact same subject—but it’s fantasy because what people are doing could be done with a twitch of Samantha’s nose.

How You Can Write Something You Think You Never Ever Would

So I told you here about my hatred of sci fi. You may have your own hatred: romance, mystery, historical, YA, etc. But are you limiting yourself in the tales you can tell because you just don’t think you respect that genre?

Take a look at the movies that stick with you. Are any of them romance? Any of them YA? Any of them historical? Then that means there’s a bit of love toward that dreaded genre.

When I started NaNoWriMo in November 2014, this was the book I was working on, and I put it aside because it didn’t quite work. I soon saw I wasn’t embracing the sci-fi nature of it—I was using too many crutches that you use as you worldbuild a YA or romance (the two genres I’m currently published in).

It became a much better story when I embraced the genre that I had been running from.


Sydney Strand is a fiction writer who has published two young adult books through New York and another six books via self-publishing. Over the last two years, she has focused on writing fun romances, but not of the Red Room of Pain variety. More like the Dan and Roseanne/Sam and Diane variety–humor is sexy, dontcha know. You can follow Sydney on Instagram (1st Favorite), Twitter (2nd Favorite), and Facebook (Not a Favorite). She’s also at www.sydneystrand.com. (Her favoritest of favorites.)

6 thoughts on “I Never Thought I’d Ever Write This Kind of Story

  1. This is a great post. I'm currently negotiating whether to add or not add magical elements to the story I'm writing because the book I'm querying is magic realism. Makes me wonder if I'm trying too hard…


  2. I always wrote dark…poems, short stories, two novels, but one day I had a funny though and wrote it down. For the last few years I've been writing humorous women's fiction. Who knew I had it in me?
    Not me. Last Christmas I bought my best friend a Stephen King novel and almost had to hog tie her to even read the first page. Ha ha! She's now a King fan.


  3. My current WIP is a contemporary romance which I swore I didn't like until I had an idea for a story. Now, it's the fastest thing I've ever written. And I'm mapping out a YA while I write, which I also never thought I could write.

    There's something terribly freeing about taking a risk with a genre I'm not entirely comfortable with. And I can feel it improve my writing in general with every word I type.


  4. Thanks Tasha! Do you see your book, if made into a movie, standing side by side with a Practical Magic or a Chocolat? Sometimes, putting your quandary in visual form helps your gut make the choice for you. Let me know what you decide!!!


  5. First of all, LOVE your handle here Em. ;o) And I hear you on dark vs. funny. I was the opposite. For a while, I attempted women's suspense because I had an awesome idea I really, really wanted to see on paper. But it was too dark and my tone was too light. Sometimes, you've gotta let your voice take you in the direction your writing needs to go.


  6. I never thought I'd write straight romance either, Kate. I even wrote s-e-x scenes in them–something I really didn't want to do, but I did it just to see if I could (I could!) and to get that monkey off my back. As a writer, you have to do what scares you in order to really be the honest writer that attracts the reader who wants to read an honest story, you know?


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