I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding your writing niche

Finding my writing niche has been an important step in my writing journey, and it’s taken me a number of years and “drawered” manuscripts to do so. Important, because I’ve found I need a niche of my own to focus on and learn all its intricacies, in order for me to become a better writer.

It may change in the future, of course, but for the moment I can’t imagine writing anything other than Young Adult fiction. It feels funny to reason out and explain something I just know instinctively to be the case. But I thought I would give it a go.

I love writing in the teen voice, which is a very different way of viewing the world. I have more success creating 3D characters who are teens rather than adults. In addition, my writing voice (see here for my post on writing voice vs character voice) comes naturally in first person – for me, third person comes out wrong when I write it, too stilted and with no feeling. Nathan Bransford has just written a post on first vs third person if you want to check it out here. And (except when my verbosity gets the better of me) I have a “short and sharp” sentence style, according to my CPs. Both of which lend themselves to YA.

In terms of genre, Horror works best for me. I love to delve into the inner workings of the mind and of human nature, and because of that my stories tend to come out “darker” than usual. I also love writing paranormal elements, the scarier the better. Light and fluffy my fiction ain’t.

Thus, YA Horror.

How about you: Do you think it’s important to have a writing niche? Have you found yours or are you still experimenting? Do you cross over into different genres, and between adult/children’s fiction? Do you think your writing niche will change in the future, and if so, what might make it change?


Abhishek said...

Well, I write military fiction and young adult!!

I just dunno whether it is important to have a niche or not!! but, somehow!! I prefer military stuff coz .. I can go into depths there!!

So probably we all have a niche, inside unconsciously!!
Another Author

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Yes, I'd love to read more YA horror! After writing adult urban fantasy and YA fantasy, I definitely found my niche with YA sci-fi. I thought it would be too technical and scary for me to write, but I love it.

Jemi Fraser said...

I cross all kinds of genres - which kind of matches my reading style too.

Right now I've got a YA steampunk, a YA dystopian, a MG sci-fi adventure & 2 romantic suspense for adults in some stage of the game. I do hope to find one niche to stay in for a bit, but right now, I'm enjoying writing all of them! :)

Zan Marie said...

I have two contemporary, women's fiction, family dramas and a trilogy of SF romance/family drama. I think. ; ) All adult...just in case I need to do something a bit rique.

Ryan Sullivan said...

Oh yeah, I know my niche. I've always written fantasy, since I was seven. I'm now eighteen. It's what I read and it's what I write, because it's what I love.

The type of fantasy has certainly changed over the years. As a child it was always very high fantasy with a focus on magic, but without the focus on a medieval setting. Then the focus was on languages and parallel worlds.

I've now rested on high/epic fantasy, and I love it.

Diane said...

For me, its definitely kids.... chapter books to 11 year old-ish! :O)

Indigo said...

I think finding a niche is a certain kind of comfort; one in which you recognize your voice.

The comfort factor itself keeps the words flowing. (Hugs)Indigo

Unknown said...

Hey Rach! Nice to find your niche...I'm not sure what I'd call mine, or that I even have one! I love writing humour...it's sort of fiction spiced with life..I'm not into fantasy or vampires or anything geared to young adults...I have written for little kids and loved that..I suppose I'm still working on it!

Aldrea Alien said...

I tend to write fantasy, sometimes it crosses with sci-fi, but mostly, it’s fantasy.
But I found out pretty early on (around the age of 12) that I couldn't write YA. There always seems to be a mature streak in my stories (whether through the overall theme, a specific MC or actual physical contact).
Even my current story, with a relatively innocent 18-year-old MC fails to keep within the bounds of what I've always seen as YA. But then, maybe my view of YA itself, and what is accepted, is skewed.
I'm halfway convinced I was never a YA in the first place. ^_^

Unknown said...

I think niche can be an organic thing that can change over time. I'm a firm believer that you never know what you can do until you try. However, I think it's always important to evaluate your strengths and use them.

In the case of writing, I think your reading habits can give you some insight into what you might be good at.


Cally Jackson said...

I'm still experimenting with my niche, but I suspect it's new adult fiction. My current book is contemporary but my next one I believe will be paranormal - both new adult. I can't read horror - it gives me nightmares. :-(

Jenna Cooper said...

I have so many different ideas I've tried not to get into a specific niche. I know I love YA, but the specific genre within YA I have much more flexibility with.

Shannon Lawrence said...

It's funny, but my short stories have always been horror. However, the ideas I got really excited on for novel ideas have been fantasy each time, whether YA or regular ol' adult. So I move around a little, but it seems to me that they're all related a bit. After all, the urban fantasies are often taking the creatures of our nightmares and making them seem normal, right?

dolorah said...

That's so much a yes/no answer for me. Not that I'm wishy-washy. I like dark tales, fantasy creatures, philosophy discussion in story form. But I also like contempory issues and real world demons to overcome.

Maybe that's why I enjoy writing short stories so much. Srty concepts are eassier to compartmentalize.

Like you Rachel, with your YA voice, I've narrowed my "niche" to the darker side of human psychology, but haven't decided to specialize in either horror, fantasy, or women's fiction.

You have at least chosen the a YA voice. I don't think a writer need limit themselves too much for a nische, but you definitely need to explore your strengths.

Nothing wrong with exploring until you're satisfied something isn't your niche though :)


Margo Benson said...

I'm writing Romance and a little paranormal. I'm working on becoming more real and literary (which I can do in Flash Fiction) - the voice that has emerged contains more humour than I expected.

Miranda Hardy said...

It's important to write what you feel comfortable with. I enjoy YA fantasy, historical fiction, and whatever genre I feel like writing in.

Crystal said...

I think it can definitely be helpful to have a writing niche - like you said, you can then learn all the intricacies of that niche and it's probably easier to strengthen your writing when you focus on only one genre. I seem to gravitate towards either "chick lit" or family drama in my writing, but I'm definitely still experimenting. I always write adult because, yes, I like the fact that I don't have to censor myself as much. I think my writing niche could still change depending on the ideas that jump out at me... Only time will tell! :-)

Jeanmarie Anaya said...

I'm glad you found your niche and look forward to reading those horror stories of yours one day!

I recently started a new WIP and wrote the book out of sequence--I just dove right in and wrote whichever scenes were in my head without regard to chronology. Looking back, I tackled all the romantic scenes first. That made me realize that it's my favorite part of the process. I don't know if I'd call myself a romance writer, but it makes me feel like my niche as a paranormal romance writer makes sense. (Thank goodness because little in life makes sense to me right now. LOL)

Alleged Author said...

I'm always experimenting different genres in the YA/MG age group. Though I never waiver from writing in 1st person. My third-person writing sucks!

Carol Riggs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol Riggs said...

It's nice to have a niche, yep. And writers should experiment to find it. I'm definitely YA, and my genre wanders a bit. I've done contemporary, but also enjoy any genre that is more creative--sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, etc. Kinda thinking that won't change. :)

Crystal Collier said...

I'm with EJ up there. I think your niche can and does evolve over time.

Hart Johnson said...

My teen voice is strongest, too, though I sort of like 3rd person close. I am making peace with 1st person, but it feels arrogant to me (oh, this story is all about ME!) I don't have a narrow niche, but there is a lot in common in the things I do. Some underlying mystery or unexplained (mystery or suspense)--either teen presence or an adult that is playful like a teen might be... someone a little rebellious... failure of the 'system' or wrongness of an authority figure or institution. In the short run, I plan to focus on YA and trade mystery, but I have some adult suspense ideas I want to get to eventually.

I think fitting in a predefined niche though, definitely helps you break in--the trade mystery is SO MUCH easier than many genres to break into.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I still haven't found my niche but hope to do so someday. I've written stories that have all kinds of voices and all kinds of age groups. I just don't know what it is exactly that I want to write so I just write TO write...that prolly doesn't make any sense.

Devin Bond said...

I haven't found my niche, but I've found my ..."section" I suppose. I know I'll stick with YA no matter what, but whether it's fantasy or paranormal or romance, I don't know yet. It'll stick somewhere in that range.

Jules said...

Right now my niche is work but as for writing... I have to feel/see it in my head and heart. Does not matter to me if it is an old man or bowl on the table. See it, feel it, write it; my niche. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Mojo said...

I know I prefer the short story form, and I'd say I tend towards the blackly comic end of magic realism with it - on my very best day, I'd aspire to join the company of writers like Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, and Phillip K Dick.

That said, I think I'm still trying to find my own voice. It's a journey, and it's one where I'm not in a great hurry to reach my destination. In this case, how I travel might be more important.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Hi Rach, I enjoyed reading your article about having a writing niche.
My niche is mysteries, my favorite genre since childhood (many, many years ago.)
Writing a mystery was a natural choice for me and has become an everyday pleasure.
Any cross-over is/will be contained within the mysteries I write.

Christa Desir said...

I love YA horror. What a great niche, and honestly, it is on everyone's lips these days so you are in a good market. Good luck, Rachel.

Erica Pike said...

I found mine and I love it ^.^ I'm still going to write children's books, but I'm not going use the same pen name for obvious reasons. I don't know when I'll get back to YA writing, maybe after I'm established under this name. You know who I am, so sssshhh ;)

Alyssa Fox said...

I found mine it took me about six months, but now I know where my voice is.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Sometimes you can have two niches. For years I thought romantic suspense was mine, and then I started writing YA time travels. I love writing them, but I also still love writing romantic suspense. I've been very fortunate to see some of my wrote published. Very fortunate.

scribbleandedit.blogspot.co.uk said...

Glad you've sussed your niche. I'm still trying to decide which is my fav. I have dabbled in a few. I think I'm still testing the waters. I tried to rush into it all and realised I needed to just get in some practice :O)

Adina West said...

Still experimenting with genre...though not horror. That's all yours!

I like to feel free to experiment and try a few things while I'm unpublished. Nobody really has expectations of me yet! If I do get something published obviously the 'genre' issue becomes more relevant. If you have a reading audience who loves what you're doing you have to think a little more carefully before moving away and doing something new...

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MH said...

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Michael gooogleee said...

I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.Thankyou i really love it

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