The truth: “Experiment with everything.”
Many restaurants have dozens upon dozens of types of delicious foods. Many “regulars” of these restaurants order the “usual” because they are afraid of trying something new. I challenge you to be the person who tries a new dish, just to try it–because hey, you may find yourself a new “usual!”
Just like patrons of a restaurant, writers too have a “usual.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a “usual” genre–“Harry Potter” is proof that 7 books based on the same character can be pretty successful. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? But maybe it is broke, and you may not realize it. I never realized that I needed new glasses until I did get new glasses–then I realized how blind I had been, and how much clearer the world was supposed to be.
If you’re already extremely happy with the genre you choose to write, or the plot elements of your stories, then there’s no reason to change it. But if perhaps you’re just starting writing, there’s no reason to try the buffet.
After all, there are countless combinations of genres of media. There are thriller movies, thriller novels, thriller TV shows, thriller plays, etc… And even within the thriller genre, there are crime thrillers, horror thrillers, action thrillers, and some of those even overlap. And then of course there are crime thrillers with a strong female lead, or action thriller comedies that have a comic relief secondary character…
Therefore, it is impossible for anyone to experience every single combination of media, let alone write for each combination. Most people simply write in the genre that they like. A sucker for romantic comedies will likely stick to romance-type creations, whereas an action movie buff will likely make things that have explosions and shooting. After all, it only makes sense for the writer to enjoy the finished product.
I never really liked “crime thrillers” before I saw Breaking Bad a few years ago. When I’d first heard of Breaking Bad, and what its premise was, I dismissed it as stupid. Not only that, but my idea of a “TV series” was something akin to those daily soap operas that are terrible but get watched anyway.
So Breaking Bad didn’t have a lot going for it in my head.
But then after all my friends were watching it and I began to feel left out, I got up to speed and realized that a) crime thrillers could be awesome, b) TV series could be awesome, and c) there’s a LOT of awesome things out there that I would love but can’t give it a chance for me to love it.
Hey, maybe I would love romantic comedies, or action dramas, but I just don’t feel like giving those genres a chance. Maybe I’d like movies with a strong female lead, or movies that focus on a homosexual couple. If I never give it a chance, how will I never know for sure?
I’m a fan of trying something new for 30 days, just to see if you’ll like it. Through this method, I found that I liked reading, enjoyed programming, and especially loved writing. Even if you end up failing the 30 day challenge for whatever reason, at least you can say you tried it, and it wasn’t for you.
So hey–why not branch off just for a bit and do something you’ve never done in writing before? You might find something amazing.
This NaNoWriMo, I plan to do something that I’d never thought to do–and that is have a female protagonist. Every story that I’d thought up of in my head always had a male protagonist, and there was always a female in there that required saving. This is a common trope in stories everywhere, both in print and on the big screen.
I want to do something that I’ve never done before. And so, I am going to experiment with this concept and see if it’s something that jives with me. I wish you the best of luck in your own experiments.