Why You Should Strongly Consider Writing in One Genre

by | Writing | 9 comments




My guest today is Jennifer Slattery, author of Beyond I Do. Jennifer shares an important principle. Be ready for her thought-provoking examples. And don’t miss more about Jennifer and Beyond I Do following her post.


 As a freelance editor I’m often asked by new writers: how do I start? And I always answer: just start. Sit your tush in front of your computer and start. Write and keep writing, and eventually, God will direct you into the genre that best fits you.

I believe, through prayer and persistence, God will help writers find their niche.

But what about those writers who want to dabble in a bit of everything? Is that wrong?


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wrong might be a strong word, but unless you’re the brilliant Dr. Dennis Hensley, dabbling in literary diversity could work against you. This topic has been sufficiently debated in numerous writers’ groups, and most often, our arguments are centered on the reader. While it’s imperative we consider our readers in all we do, I suggest we consider this discussion from a different angle—that of personal growth and our pursuit of excellence. 

Let me explain:

Every genre has unique yet reader-expected boundaries and expectations. Click to tweet.

For example, literary fiction often contains a great deal of introspection, examining the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of their character/s at a deeper level than contemporary fiction, and the story ending can be tragic or sad. Suspense on the other hand is largely plot driven and moved very quickly. Romance requires two point-of-view (POV) characters and a happily-ever-after ending.

If you’ve followed Zoe’s blog for any length of time, you likely know this. Perhaps you even feel as if you know the parameters of all genres so well, you feel equipped to write in each one.

Image courtesy of shirophoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of shirophoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If that’s you, let me ask you this: if you were in need of a heart transplant, would you prefer to go with a general surgeon experienced in a wide range of procedures or one that had been performing heart transplants for the past twenty years? Or when you go out, do you normally find better coffee at a large restaurant or a coffee house?


You see, there’s a difference between knowing and mastering. Specialization isn’t a bad thing. I believe it’s actually quite good. It allows us to pursue excellence in one particular area. Yes, we can dabble in many, but when we do, I believe our growth will be divided. Imagine how our writing might improve if we focused our efforts.

Granted, some genres are similar enough to allow for easy writer-expansion—contemporary romance and romantic suspense are one. Also, many writers can easily switch between fiction and non (as we get a great deal of practice with the latter doing blog tours! Heehee.) But even in similar genres, I believe the principle still stands. In every field, excellence, I believe, is found in specialization.

That isn’t to say writers can’t write well in a variety of genres. I believe some, like Dr. Hensley, can. But for the majority of us, I believe our efforts will be maximized when we narrow our focus and pursue that narrowed focus with diligence, intentionality, and perseverance.

What are your thoughts on this subject? How many genres do you write in and why? Have you found your genre “sweet spot” yet? Do you prefer to write in one genre or do you enjoy dabbling in a variety? If you believe writers can diversify, do you believe there’s a point when they’ve expanded too much?

headshot2013Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently discounted in e-book format for under $3! You can find it here

She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries. When not writing, Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

 Beyond I Do:

 Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here.


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  1. Sally Shupe

    Great post! Jennifer, I loved Beyond I Do. Awesome book! Are you working on another? Usually when I pick up a book to read by a particular author it’s because I know what they write. For me personally, when the kids were little I wrote short stories. Now, I’m working on my first Christian romance. “efforts will be maximized when we narrow our focus and pursue that narrowed focus with diligence, intentionality, and perseverance” I love that! Zoe, the countdown clock caught my eye. I love it!

    • Jennifer Slattery

      Hi, Sally! How fun to connect here! Your review of my debut blessed my socks off! Yep, I am working on another, and I have a second novel coming out in January. I suspect if you liked “Beyond I Do”, you’ll enjoy this one as well. It’s similar in theme, has the romance I love, and, according to my editor is stronger. (I love encouraging editors! They make me want to write more!) My second novel is titled “When Dawn Breaks”. I have a third novel contracted, though I don’t have a firm date or title on that one yet.

      I love reading short stories! They’re perfect for when you’re short on time. 🙂 God’s abundant blessings on your writing, friend!

  2. Zoe M. McCarthy

    So glad to have one of Jennifer’s readers join in, Sally. When I wrote inspirational romantic suspense they were never good enough. Usually one of the elements (faith, suspense, romance) wasn’t on. Then I found my voice, removed the suspense element, and wrote a contemporary inspirational romance. That’s the one that got contracted. And I think it was because that was the genre for me. I think narrowing down opened up everything for me.
    Does that countdown clock seem like it’s running faster than it’s supposed to?

    • Jennifer Slattery

      That’s awesome, Zoe! And that’s great that you didn’t force something that wasn’t you but rather kept writing and allowed your natural bent to grow stronger until you found your brand. 🙂 As to your question… I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a signal to all of us to get busy! haha!

  3. Laurean Brooks

    Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve written only romance, thus far, but am planning a series similar to the Mitford books by Jan Karon. (A rural town with “Mayberry-type” characters set in the early 50s.) The romantic element will not be as strong, but I don’t see a problem switching from Christian romance to …. Well, I’m not sure what you call this genre. It will still be Christian, but more family and town oriented.

    In my opinion, switching from Suspense to any other genre (besides Mystery) could be suicide. Suspense readers read for the chill and thrill of crime solving. If they are fans of an author for his/her suspense titles, but buy a book only to discover it’s a romance, the reader will be sadly disappointed.

    What do you think?

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Laurean, in some writing advice I heard somewhere, it said changing genres is not damaging when an author’s books are first coming out while they’re settling on a genre. It’s when the readers are trained to expect one genre from them that it hurts authors.

      I totally agree on the suspense to another genre. I used to read Robert Ludlum’s thrillers. Then he wrote a humorous book, and I was disappointed in it and didn’t read more than a couple of chapters. He wrote it under a pen name, but if I found it, it must have been marketed with his name.

    • Jennifer Slattery

      Laurean, would that be women’s fiction? I can see that. Both genres are very relational. My novels have actually been classified as both (depending on who’s reading them!) because I include a lot of relational issues.

      Great points regarding suspense! I also like Zoe’s comments regarding genre and reader response and later expectation.

  4. Jane Foard Thompson

    I guess I’m the poster child for not writing all over the place. Only my nonfiction has been published, while my fiction has gone from middle grade, historical, Amish suspense and women’s. Problem is, everything but the Amish novel, which was at an agent’s request, is something I really love. I suppose the one that finds readership will guide my direction.

    And yes, Zoe, you’ve definitely found your voice. You use humor and a little quirkyness to craft a fun read. I’m watching that countdown clock and cheering!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Well, I thought you wrote good Amish characters, but I’m going for the pre-Columbian. How different could those be! I know you’ll find your niche. Thanks for the kind words, friend.


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