Genre Motivation (IWSG March)

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Logo

Welcome to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. On the first Wednesday of every month we blog about writing, hoping to encourage others out there. We are all about connecting, sharing, and ‘rocking the neurotic writing world’. 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Sarah – The Faux Fountain Pen, Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!

This month, we are exploring the following 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?

I’m a self-confessed lover of fantasy fiction. My Dad read Lord of the Rings to me at five years old; I grew up with Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Philip Pullman, Katharine Kerr, Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, and of course the wonderful Terry Pratchett.

I devoured fantasy like it was going out of fashion. Transported to other worlds, I forgot the dreary British weather and the monotony of school, exploring new worlds and magic on the backs of dragons. Or cheeky luggage trunks with hundreds of tiny legs.

My introduction to science fiction came in the form of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids and The Trouble With Lichen. Philip K. Dick, and more of Le Guin and McCaffrey followed. I loved the cross-over of the two genres, and still do hold a special place for space fantasy and its near cousin, space opera.

But what about other genres? I’ve jumped into the words of Stephen King (though The Dark Tower has remained with me the most), but most horror has visited me via television and movies. There’s a lot to be said for psychological thrillers, the twisting, creepy tales that leave you guessing at every turn. But I’m not a fan of reading the true gore… unless it’s in a spec fic novel!

Then again, I love a good murder mystery. From Agatha Christie to Kelley Armstrong, from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to Patricia Briggs’ feisty detective Kay Scarpetta. I especially love a strong female lead.

Back to the question. Do I read widely or only within the genre I write for? The honest answer has to be, both. How, I hear you say?

A few years ago I began reading Urban Fantasy. It was this foray into a different style of writing that spurred my own belief that I, too, could write novels. I’d always loved to write, but hadn’t focused too strongly on it, having that wonderful thing, imposter syndrome, always looming over my shoulder. When I first read a book that made me sit up and say ‘I could do that better’ (sorry, UF writers, I know this could apply in any genre), I then read a whole bunch more. Self-published authors, as well, whose work might not have undergone as thorough an editing process as others, showed me a glimpse of the variety of published authors out there (again, I know this is by no means the rule—simply my belief at the time). Nonetheless, this spurred me to focus on writing again, and here we are now—where I’m querying my first novel and writing every day.

I still read heavily in my genre, though I’ve switched to space operas in particular since that is the world of The Archivist series. But I don’t read exclusively in that area.

Sometimes, it is good to escape from what you write for a while.

From science fiction to fantasy, to historical fiction, to family drama, to stories from other cultures and countries, I am open to all. I like to read non-fiction, especially emerging science, climate and biological issues, and mental health research. I think it’s important to keep up to date with current affairs, and to read widely both in and around your subject. For my own learning… and because I never know what may find itself influencing my next story, idea, or characters. I love to learn, and I want my children to love reading and learning, too.

But I still love to curl up with a good murder mystery.

Open book on grass and flowers, with purple and green glitter
Image by Yuri_B on Pixabay

What about you? Which genres do you read, and why? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Blog Hop

Click here to see how other members of the IWSG answered this month’s question.

20 thoughts on “Genre Motivation (IWSG March)

  1. I used to read only MG and YA fantasies, which is what I write. But then like you, I branched out in what I read. I’m so glad I did because I love reading a lot of other genres, like contemporary, mystery, and psychological thrillers, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read any MG fantasies as an adult, but I don’t mind dipping into YA occasionally. Especially at the moment, as I’m exploring YA writing. It’s fun to read others, too, isn’t it. Happy reading! 🙂


  2. I think the “I could do this better” is a sign you’re learning from what you read. It’s how you find your voice, your style. That’s a good sign, as far as I’m concerned.

    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

  3. I mostly read urban fantasy these days, in part because that’s what I’m writing now. (I’ve almost finished my debut novel) Admittedly, there is a wide range of author skillsets in UF, so I’m still waiting to see where I fit in.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I tend to mostly read hist-fic sagas like I write, as well as non-fiction about history and historical figures, world religions, culture, and science. I’ve also become quite fond of novels in verse and MG historicals.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Emma for sharing. Tolkien and Wyndham also read at an early age. Also enjoyed Ray Bradbury and Arthur C Clarke’s short stories … later Azimov. Enid Blyton, I preferred her fantasy stories, and C S Lewis.
    Good luck on your novel. Keep absorbing the world through sight, words and emotions and transforming them into enjoyment for other readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I tried watching the film of DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS but never finished. Too unsettling. Probably shouldn’t have watched it at night either. Maybe the book will go down easier.

    I’ve read LeGuin and King. Liked them both. Read Gaiman’s SANDMAN comics. Started LOTR as a kid but never finished it. Don’t read a lot of SF/fantasy/horror these days but I would if motivated to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Day of the Triffids hasn’t aged that well, and I’ve not seen the film, but I do like the idea of exploring ability/disability. Gaiman is a king, of course. I’m watching Good Omens currently (loved the book too). LOTR is a tome, and contains an awful lot of detail that fantasy authors these days are encouraged not to load in… but the influence on speculative fiction since was extremely profound. I love when I read older works and can see the tropes we now use. Same with movies. Eg – slow-mo action scenes a la The Matrix, or wizards looking like grizzled old men a la LOTR 😆.
      Thanks for stopping by!


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