When to Consider a Genre Change

I’ve been comfortable as a nonfiction writer for years. Why did I switch to fiction? Because I started reading fiction. Starved for entertainment, I ate it up.

Most of it.

A new idea dawns
But some authors were disappointing—their writing sloppy and plots unimaginative.

“I could write as well as these guys do!” I told my husband.

“I’ve thought that for a long time,” Steve said. “Why don’t you?”

Because switching genres terrified me. But I’d faced writing challenges before. Here’s what I did to take the plunge.

Prepare well
I saturated myself in novel writing instruction books, teaching from fiction experts like James Scott Bell at the Writing for the Soul conference, and the camaraderie of like-minded writers in professional groups.

After one conference, three writer friends and I began an online critique group. Following all this study and deliberation, I began plotting my first novel.

Embrace the challenge
I wrote daily, knowing I’d have to work hard, receive criticism, and revise and revise. But when my words stared limply from the screen, I didn’t know what to do.

I went back to the experts and asked my friends to pray—and they must have.

Expect God’s help
The surprise for me was God’s involvement in this novel adventure. Not only did He send a tribe of encouragers, but I also met two bestselling novelists who cared enough to pump me up, challenge me, and pour reality into me. At times it hurt, but who could deny their example and success?

I’m still working on revisions. Lots of them.

I’m no longer critical of those novelists I once pooh-poohed. Sweat made room for respect. Writing a novel represents months, even years, of hard work invisible to the reader.

I am fully committed to my new genre. Daily, I thank God for Steve’s nudging me to try, for my friends who pray and cheer, for the champions of fiction who invest their energy in me.

I’ve always loved my readers, but now I love my characters, too—their dreams, their needs, and their challenges. I can’t imagine life without them.

React: What successes have you had that give you the courage to try new things?

Virelle Kidder is a CWG mentor, conference speaker, and the author of six nonfiction books. Her new novel is still in the works.

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