“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
One can’t necessarily replace a chemist with a geologist just because both fall under the umbrella category “scientist.” Similarly, a writer who excels in one genre of writing may not be as expert in another. No matter which genre you prefer to write in, experimenting with other genres can improve your chosen one.
General nonfiction– Any type of well-written nonfiction literature requires extensive research. Your teachers weren’t kidding -research skills are important. It gives legitimacy to your work. Practicing research skills can also help fiction writing. Your work becomes more realistic and you have the added bonus of exposure to interesting information you otherwise may have never stumbled upon.
General fiction– Fiction is by no means frivolous. Writers of this genre know the importance of word choice. A slight word variant can give a sentence a completely different feeling. For more on word choice, click here. While one may think that word choice is less important in nonfiction writing -facts are facts- it is essential. Describing a war battle as “horrific” will portray a different image than saying “bad.” Fiction writing can also help you discover new topics of interest. When you decide one of your characters should be a photographer, and you research a bit to make the person feel authentic, you may find you’re more interested in the topic than you knew.
Poetry– Poetry writing is known for its creativity. It takes readers into another world. As writer Melissa Donovan explains, “Most writing forms attempt to explain something — a scene, a situation, an idea, a set of instructions, an experience. Poetry doesn’t bother to explain. It shows. It paints a picture and pulls you into it.” If you can harness the imagery power of poetry, the visual effect can enhance any type of text you create.
Folklore– Famous authors such as Shakespeare and Jane Austen used aspects of folklore in their stories and with good reason. Folklore can help you learn about the past and can inspire creativity. It involves the ways people make meaning in their lives. Folklore asks questions. This is a useful skill in any genre. For example, in historical literature one should always ask the question, “Whose story isn’t being told?”
Mystery– Spinning a good mystery can be tricky, but even writing a bad one can help you practice advanced skills. This genre requires much planning and organization. Characters have to give off just the right feeling and foreshadowing is of the utmost importance. If you successfully added the right amount of characterization and foreshadowing to a mystery piece, it will show in other fiction writing that you create.
Fan fiction– Writing fanfiction may seem amateur to some, but many successful authors begun with this genre. The popular book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James began as a fanfiction of the Twilight series and has now sold over 125 million copies. Not to mention that is has also been made into a movie and has several popular parodies of its own. Fanfiction supplies you with a base storyline and audience. The quick feedback readers supply can teach you what aspects of your writing can be improved not just for your fanfiction, but for any other type of works you create.
With writing there is no limit to how far your skills can advance. There is no such thing as a perfect piece or author. We should always be thriving to improve our work. Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying to write in an unfamiliar genre might be just the push you need to advance to a new level in your writing. What type of writing will you try next?
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