writers / writing

#IWSG–Is my favorite reading genre different from what I write?

This post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s question — Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

This is a good question, Alex. Writers are always told to read vociferously in our genre so we see what makes for a good-bad story. I did that when I wrote thrillers but when I switched to prehistoric fiction, there weren’t enough of them. When I ran through all of Jean Auel, Sue Harrison, the Gears, Shuler, and the rest, I quite unexpectedly ended up reading Westerns. On the surface, this genre doesn’t seem to share characteristics with prehistoric fiction but when I thought about why I’d fallen in love with Westerns, it turned out to be the same traits that made for good prehistoric fiction:

…strong heroes that push the edge of what’s possible. …moral but flawed, powerful but earnest, not afraid to put themselves in danger and take responsibility, with a bias for action–no SODSDIs allowed (Some Other Dude Should Do It).

Other than Westerns, I love Indies. Yes, I know that’s not a genre but it does describe a category of books. These are as likely to be exciting, well-written, and page-turners as traditionally published books but in my case, they have encouraged me to broaden my interests and try new topics. That’s always a good thing.

I look forward to reading your take on this topic!

#iwsg #amwriting

@TheIWSG

More on #IWSG

Blogging Friends

Why I Don’t Finish a Book

Best Times for Writing


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.

134 thoughts on “#IWSG–Is my favorite reading genre different from what I write?

  1. Pingback: #IWSG Am I a Risk-taker? | WordDreams...

  2. I think, by and large, it is a good idea for an author to have an identifiable brand — I write supernatural horror and dark fiction — but we are better writers (and more well-rounded people) for reading all types of work, from different genres to poetry to essays to long-form nonfiction. I’d grow antsy if all I ever read was horror/dark fantasy!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I just think life is more fun with monsters! I’m mostly a student of the Stephen King school of horror, which is to say I write relatable stories with identifiable characters — mostly family dramas set in New York — whose lives are complicated by the arrival of something supernatural (a werewolf, a magical totem, etc.). I don’t write worldbuilding fantasies; instead, I write about everyday realities that are disrupted by a single magical something. For example: Spex, about a 12-year-old boy who comes into possession of a pair of magically functional “X-ray specs,” is a metaphor for that particular developmental stage when wide-eyed wonder gives way to adolescent disillusionment.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I read a number of genres. Though I’m not much for strictly romance, I do enjoy a bit of a love connection. I enjoy reading indie authors, which is basicaly all I read these days. There is so much unrecognized talent out there. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Jacqui. A great and thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s an interesting rabbit hole. 😀 I was going to say I’d never heard of pre-historic fiction, but I remember my sister reading what I think was one. The main character’s name was Aiyla or something close to that? I think they were cave people.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Still try to read a wide range of genres, though do go back to my fall back of historical fiction/fantasy – which isn’t a lot published – and thrillers, and of course Indie books. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for sharing!!.. I read because I love reading and it is relaxing and I have a open mind about the subject matter, I just follow my heart ( I am toying with the idea of trying Amazon’s Audible also)… what writing I do, again I let my fingers do the walking (typing/writing) and my heart do the talking… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May you always walk in the sunshine
    May you never want for more
    May Irish angels rest their wings
    Right beside your front door.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

      • “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover, acquire new friends and gain knowledge of yourself and the world.” ( Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain)… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I love indies too, and I read pretty much everything, including established, traditionally publisher authors. I haven’t read romance in a while, but I should. The genre’s really evolved over the years, and I need to read more Westerns too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Jacqui! It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for co-hosting IWSG. ‘Strong heroes that push the edge of what’s possible . . .’ I love that! I find it so intriguing how you discovered what you needed in the foundations of the western genre. Writing is all related on some level.

    Like

  9. Jacqui,

    Although I don’t read books, I really loved the Jurassic Park films. We watched the most recent one New Year’s Eve and was happy that they’re continuing to make these movies as good as the first ones. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like this question too, and I’ve also read that we writers should read the genre we’re focusing on in our books. But several points about that: I think all genres teach us different part of writing that is needed in all stories. Romance helps us learn how to write about love; mystery helps us learn how to not give out all the character’s secrets at once; suspense helps us learn to use hooks in our writing, etc. Plus, I get a little tired of being told that I have to categorize my books as a certain “genre.” Why can’t novels be a combination of several? Lastly, I like your points of how reading Westerns is helpful in the writing of prehistoric fiction, and I totally agree with you about reading Indie books. I’ve explored so many different, um, GENRES and topics by doing so. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I haven’t read pre-historic fiction so am super curious to read your books. I think I’m quite eclectic in my reading, thanks to the IWSG, Book prize winner lists, friends who write, books clubs and finding fiction for my young students. I do have my favourite genres of course but am happy exploring.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post, Jacqui:) I’ve expanded the genres I read since I read mostly indie. I found a new love of westerns, and my go to will be paranormal or mysteries.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’ve never read prehistoric fiction. It sounds like something I’d enjoy though. I’ll check out your books.

    Westerns make me leery because I’m a Native American and, well, the tribes of the west don’t tend to be portrayed in a way I want to read in many westerns. (There are, of course, exceptions.)

    I love reading a wide variety of genres. I posted for IWSG day today. My post included a new book by a friend, a note about a free book next week, a tweet about a query contest (LGBTQ romance this round), and a quick message about April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Liked by 1 person

    • Think Man vs. Wild rather than 1 million BC. Lots of surviving in them!

      That’s an interesting observation. Maybe even the ones that understand how poorly treated Native Americans were don’t get it right. One I like is Lane Warenski’s Grizzly series. It seems authentic, respectful, but really, I wouldn’t know.

      I have to check your post. I’m doing AtoZ again this year–my own way.

      Like

  14. Someday when another author wants to write prehistoric fiction, they’ll read your books as they’re trying to become literate in the genre. That’s a pretty cool fact to know!

    Thanks for co-hosting this month! And happy IWSG day 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Having read many a western (I’ll always love Louis L’Amour) I completely get the connection between westerns and pre-historic fiction. Also, IMHO, similarities to a lot of science fiction, as well. I think perhaps people who don’t read widely don’t make the connection because they’ve not been exposed to it. I read most anything, usually in manic phases or perhaps seasons. For a writer, I think it’s good to read in one’s own genre, but as you mention, the basics of telling a good story transcend genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If people know anything about that genre, it’s usually Jean Auel. She’s about the only one to put it on the literary map. The Gears did well with the prehistory of the US. They wrote a great saga of more than a dozen books.

      Like

  16. I marvel at your commitment to researching for your prehistoric novels. You dig deeply into what you find. And love how you fill in the blanks with your words. I like strong heroines in all the genres I read or at least their character arc brings them into becoming strong. I read many genres to broaden my reading horizons. Best wishes!
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Your switch from reading prehistoric fiction to westerns has always intrigued me, Jacqui. Still sounds like a stretch for me, but at least I better understand the similarities now. 🙂 I love that you love the work of indies! And, as always, I’m surprised at how you can be “all over the online place” and read so much. I’m sure you are a fast reader! Thanks for co-hosting this month. That’ll keep you even busier. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Your description of a western protagonist is perfect for a protagonist in many genres. btw, you lured me into reading “The Reckoning” by Robert J. Thomas, and I really enjoyed it. I plan to read more westerns. Thanks for cohosting today, Jacqui. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Before I started writing, I think my reading was more eclectic. I read Clan of the Cave Bear and Rosemary’s Baby. Wouldn’t touch the latter now. Definitely not into horror. Thanks for cohosting this month.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. My preference is fantasy, but even saying that… it’s such a broad genre, there’s some I like and some I don’t. I think reading broadly is almost more important than reading deep. Each genre has something to teach, and it’s popular for a reason! Plus a well-written book is a well-written book. Like you, I read lots of indies and thoroughly enjoy them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Jacqui, I know you read Westerns and I guessed you must read pre-history. I read a lot of historical novels and am particularly drawn to the turn of the late 1800s and early 1900s. I am really fascinated by that era and it is a bit easier to research as more information is available. I also love classics and have recently decided to devote my audio book listening time to classics.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m not sure that I’ve read any prehistoric fiction though I’ve seen movies. There have been times when I’ve gotten into a phase of westerns, but it was never a favorite genre. I do like the historical aspects of that genre though. In fact I like just about anything that takes place in the past.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I love prehistoric fiction too, and wish there were more out there. I’ve wanted to write some myself for many years, since prehistory, paleoanthropology, and evolutionary biology have always been passionate interests of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Reading a wide array of genres adds layers to my own noir mystery novels. I’m sure of it. Salinger said, “Read the good. Read the bad.” Agreed! Happy IWSG Day, and thank you for co-hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. As one who has written a lot of Western history, I have read maybe a dozen “westerns” in my life. I can see that you have few contemporaries writing in your genre. Have you read Craig Child’s (and I may have suggested this before) “Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America”? It’s non-fiction, looking at the migration into the Americas. While it is not my favorite Child’s book, it is informative.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Interesting topic. I still have my preferred genres to read (crime thrillers and courtroom suspense always do it for me), but I have opened my mind to trying other things which I wouldn’t have thought of sampling before. It’s a little bit like eating. There will always be those foods I can rely on (I hear you calling my name pizza), but why not try something new? It could become one of those regulars.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Surprisingly, Westerns is one of the genres I haven’t tried. What would you say is your favorite book in the genre as a starting point for someone who hasn’t read any of them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of people would say Louis L’Amour but that’s not where I’d start. The early books of William Johnstone are excellent, Smoke Jensen–before he died and his nephew took over. I loved those.

      Like

  28. I suspect it took a awhile before you realized westerns matched your preferred genre. 🙂 But if it gave you inspiration for your own books, then I’m all for it. I like to add a bit of mystery to my stories, so I’ll occasionally read a thriller just to see how those authors did it.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I read a lot of genres but mysteries / suspense / thrillers are definitely my favorites. I do like a good western now and then, but I guess cozy mysteries or epic fantasy would be second place for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I try not to read in the genre I’m actively writing in but it is part of my prep work and editing regime. LOVE your quote! Thanks for co-hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi Jacqui – I tend to stick to educative books – which can vary across various genres … but I do enjoy mysteries – though have so many books to read – very few mysteries … stay safe and all the best – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  32. You read so much! I am such a slow reader that I’ve been finding it hard to read and get other things done in my life. I had been reading lots of Sci Fi/Fantasy but lately I’ve read a few that have just been boring. I think I’m going to switch to memoirs – the few I’ve read lately have been excellent. And indie authors. I’ve been trying more and more to support small businesses – I need to add book writers to those businesses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a relatively small selection but because of that, I get a lot more sales of my books (and reads) than my two thrillers. If you look for prehistoric fiction, I pop up to the top pretty fast.

      Like

  33. Every time I visit your blog, I am fascinated by your genre. I loved studying prehistory in college and did a lot of my research in prehistoric South America. I have to read your work!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I can see westerns and prehistoric fiction being a similar fit. They both take place on a wild frontier (of sorts). Harsh elements, wild animals, no modern conveniences. I think it’s a good fit.

    I read across many genres. I tend to write across quite a few, too. I’m probably not the person to pose your question to. 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I used to read a lot of different genres, but at the moment, with my reading time so limited, I tend to read nearly only the genre I write (cozies). But when I can I enjoy romantic suspense, thrillers, police procedurals, fantasy plus a whole heap more!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I did used to read lots of genres, then I picked what I wanted to write and bought into the tru-ism that you should read what you write. I’m good with that. Now, though, I love Indies and that’s blown up my ‘read what you write’ theory.

      Liked by 1 person

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