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I never really gave it a lot of thought before, but lately, I've come to realize that most of what I write is some form of science-fiction. To date I've completed (and by 'completed' I mean I've at least finished the first draft) three medieval sci-fi novels, a contemporary sci-fi thiller, and a contemporary urban fantasy.

This wasn't a conscious decision, but even though I have plenty of ideas (including several outlines) for full-length projects in other genres, somehow, when it's time to select a new WIP, I always find myself choosing the science fiction project over the rest.

I find this surprising because my reading habits simply don't match. Don't get me wrong, I love me some good science fiction - especially short stories, and as a teenager I read hundreds of science fiction books, but most of what I read now is historical fiction (anything from Conn Iggulden's Emperor series, set in ancient Rome, to Bernard Cornwell's Starbuck Chronicles, set in the time of America's civil war); fantasy books, like Terry Pratchett's Discworld series or Dean Koontz's Brother Odd; and a few mainstream thrillers.

Now, I know we're supposed to write what we read, but somehow, my writing brain didn't get the message.

I'm not too worried about Waking up Jack Thunder, which I would hope will find it's way onto the mainstream shelves, even though there's a sci-fi element to it. However, since I've decided to get back to work on my medieval sci-fi novels (I set them aside a couple of years when I realized they weren't going anywhere until I learned a heck of a lot more than I then knew about this writing thing), I really need to change my reading habits, or at least, add a new genre to them.

How about you?

What's your favorite genre to write in? Do your reading habits match?


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( 83 comments — Leave a comment )
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amysisson
Dec. 9th, 2009 11:47 am (UTC)
I find fantasy (urban or contemporary) easier to write, but I prefer to read science fiction.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 11:50 am (UTC)
That's interesting. I'm glad it's not just me :)

Thanks for sharing :)
amy34
Dec. 9th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
My reading/writing habits have a similar disconnect. I write fantasy with romance elements, but I read very little fantasy these days (maybe 5-6 books/year out of a total of 80-100 books read). I read nonfiction, historical, romance, urban fantasy and SFF primarily, along with small amounts of mystery, general fiction and literary fiction. I think what's going on is I'm disappointed with what's available in fantasy right now, so I'm writing the fantasy books I want to read.
j_cheney
Dec. 9th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
Ditto.
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peadarog
Dec. 9th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
I still read majority SF/Fantasy, but the real reason I write it is because I read it in my formative years. I think that's why you do it too.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid cliché, I think it's very important to keep up with the field.

On a third hand, a lot of modern SF has departed from the straight-forward sense of wonder we all loved as kids and I think this is the main reason Fantasy has overtaken it in popularity. There is still SF of this type out there, but it is no longer the dominant life-form on the shelves.

Edited at 2009-12-09 03:09 pm (UTC)
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
'...but the real reason I write it is because I read it in my formative years. I think that's why you do it too.'

You're probably right.

By the way, I just read your reply in our latest cow/milk pun battle. Not bad, but if you hoof it over there, you'll see I've made a counter-strike, though you may have herd some of them before :).

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mylefteye
Dec. 9th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
Most of my output falls into the dark fantasy/horror category, and yet I read very little horror and never watch horror films. I'm a massive fan of writers like Pratchett and Jasper Fforde, but there's no use trying to follow those guys. :)
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
I tend to think of Pratchett as 'Fun Read', rather than Fantasy, which I guess is why I buy all his books.

With horror, I like the 'I know it's 2:00am, but I can't put this book down until I've finished it because otherwise I'd have no excuse to leave the light on' kind of scary tension, rather than the 'blood spurted, bone showed, Ooh look he's having his head bitten off' stuff,

I think it's harder to write, but so much more satisfying to read, don't you?

(no subject) - mylefteye - Dec. 9th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
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bosleygravel
Dec. 9th, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
I'm all over the place, and that's pretty much my taste in reading. I find admirable stuff in every genre. I want to say it's character driven fiction that really draws my interest, but I really do like plot driven stuff too when I think about it.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Absolutely, a good book is a good book, regardless of which shelf it comes from, right? :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, fantasy covers a multitude of sins :)

Thanks for sharing, Barbara :)
alaneer
Dec. 9th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC)
I write science fiction, some with horror elements but the horror wouldn't stand on it's own. And I read mostly science fiction, with an occasional fantasy.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
When you say 'horror' do you mean like Alien vs Predator type horror, or something else?
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clarionj
Dec. 9th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)
I wonder if this is more common than I'd originally thought. I rarely ever read horror or fantasy, yet that's where my writing tends to stray. I read literary fiction for the most part, unless friends have work out in other genres. But when I start to write stories, somehow that edgy, dark element comes in much of the time. When I was writing vampires (another genre I rarely read), I realized that I probably should know what's out there. I started reading vampire novels and was horribly disappointed in what was available, but also was enlightened about what's common now in the genre, what people will easily accept. I guess, as usual, a balance would be good.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
This is interesting. To be honest I was expecting a lot more people to read and write almost 100% in the same genre, but it seems (from the replies so far, at least) as if that's not the case.

You're absolutely write about the need to be aware of what's already out there, though.

Thanks for the sharing, Pat :)
out_totheblack
Dec. 9th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
I read mostly fantasy, the bloodier the better (heavy on paranormal, magic, and war) or post-apocalyptic type stuff (Everything is screwed. What do-u-do? Go!). I also like SF that doesn't overwhelm me science wise (No five page dissertation on physics, please).

I like to write fantasy mostly in line with what I read. What I can’t understand is why a romance element will meander through occasionally (shudder). I can't stand romance or chick lit, so I don’t understand when it shows up in my work. I guess that is my divergence.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
'..I can't stand romance or chick lit, so I don’t understand when it shows up in my work.'

Maybe it's just that you want to see those things written in a different way :)

Thanks for the input :)
the_faery_queen
Dec. 9th, 2009 01:06 pm (UTC)
i read fantasy with strong characters
i write fantasy with strong characters.
i will read the odd something else, something classical, perhaps. but never other genres, they hold no interset for me. im all about the fantasy
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
Lol, that certainly explains your choice of LJ name :)
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darkspires
Dec. 9th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
I write sci fi and fantasy, but I don't always read in those genres. What I go for is a character driven book and that could be anything. Just glancing over at one bookshelf, I can see romance, urban fantasy, horror, historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy and in this instance I have the Iliad. There are various other shelves in different parts of the house and all are more or less a broad mixture.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
Absolutely, I agree 100%

Whatever the book's about, it should be great story, with interesting characters.

Thanks for sharing :)
eclectic_writer
Dec. 9th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
I tend to write scifi/fantasy as well as read it. I have occasional bouts of outside activity - I still pick up Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" once a year (I want desperately/NEED to read "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies") and the occasional romance still (generally authors I'm already a fan of, although I will branch out if the blurb sounds good). one thing I've noticed, however, is how genres nowadays seem to have blurred. For example, I'll go to the romance section and see what I consider Urban Fantasy with female heroines, or the Mystery section with paranormal elements. I'm just waiting for the Western section to have some sort of cowboy space opera and I'd be set. :)
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
You know, I've never read Pride and Prejudice (though I know the story, and Senior Management is forever watching one version or another on DVD). I think I may add it to my tbr at Christmas pile.

rowanda380
Dec. 9th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
I right in kind of a romantic comedy type genre, I guess, little love stories...but I never read that kind of thing, I usually read philosophy or sci fi adventure.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
I don't envy you writing romantic comedy. I should think that's hard to produce.
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justin_pilon
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
Horror and dark fantasy mostly with the occassional sci-fi thrown in. I am not particularly tied to any of them, but I do tend to get horror ideas.
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
What kind of horror do you mean? Scary zombie horror, or evil child-killer who looks like your favorite auntie horror?
(no subject) - justin_pilon - Dec. 10th, 2009 12:26 am (UTC) - Expand
wendigomountain
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
You know what's weird is I tend to write more serious fantasy, if not dark fantasy, which I love to read, but I really like to read comedies. Among some of my favorite books growing up were Jon DeChancie's Castle Perilous series, Douglas Adams, Grant/Naylor, and many others that were just peppered with humor. I would have said I like to read sci-fi more than fantasy, but really the only sci-fi I like is Philip K. Dick. He writes like Borges and Marquez with rocket planes and occluded personalities and transdimensional crime stories. PKD really ought to be in his own genre.

I just find fantasy to be too, well, rigid to be enjoyed most of the time. I think it's because on many publisher's websites they say "Must have an established system of magic." Um, really? Why can't magic be magic? We do we have to have magic adhere to the laws of some made up system? Isn't that called "physics?"

If Merlin wants to fart Twizzlers at people, I say let him! Rules be damned!
jongibbs
Dec. 9th, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
Good points all, though your last line left me with a somewhat disturbing image in my head :(

Thanks for sharing :)
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