11 April 2013

Guest Post - Across the Great Divide: The Importance of Cross-Genre Reading by Tim Ouellette

Demonic children. A husband on the brink of insanity. A woman whose obsession brings her back from the dead...night after night. "Fractured" is a collection of horror fiction & poetry that seeks to delve into the darkest regions of the human mind.

           I write horror…and read young adult.
I also write crime fiction…and read books on philosophy.
            Is this weird, or should this be the norm for writers who wish to inject a different flavor into their writing?
            I’d like to think it’s fairly common these days for writers of all shapes and sizes to at least  want to “try on”, as it were, a genre or style that’s different from the one they’re used to. I know my views on horror fiction have changed dramatically over the years, both on the fiction that I read and the fiction that I write. And, while I enjoy a good slasher movie just like the next guy, when it comes to setting words to the page I like my horror fiction to have a certain amount of depth and meaning.
            Writers should be in the habit of reading widely (both fiction and non-fiction) in order to determine the type of writing they’re going to create and publish on a regular basis. This cross-genre reading is something that, if you’re not currently engaged in as an author, you need to incorporate into your regular reading schedule starting today.
            Depending on the genre you’re currently writing in there may be one or more structures or forms used to identify said genre. These structures enable the reader to know that they are in fact reading a certain type of fiction. Yet in order to make this fiction readable (and saleable; after all, if a novel can’t be sold the chances of it being read fall exponentially), the reader must be able to recognize various aspects of different types of fiction: humor, romance, thriller, etc., and be able to incorporate these aspects into their current WIP (work in progress).
            Reading widely outside a given genre enables the author to wrap the “tried and true” in a literary “multi-colored robe”; it helps the author (and the reader, for that matter) to recognize the fact that categorical differences can add nuance and flavor to their work that might otherwise not be included.
            Cross-genre reading can also help the writer with character development. The characters in our stories, while often somewhat of an extension of the author, may be found to have traits and personality characteristics that are poles apart from the personality of the writer. In order to experience these different personalities and learn how to approach them from the perspective of a writer, one must learn to diversify their reading experience and surround themselves with varied forms of descriptive prose.
            I believe it’s natural for writers to create in a certain vein; some of us may simply be built this way, while others came about their genre of choice through trial and error. I am certain, however, that the books and stories we read as children played a large part in shaping and molding the way we looked at ourselves and our world, and thus were a part of the “creative spark” we carried into adulthood.
            Reading widely, both within and without one’s chosen genre, can only work toward making one a well-rounded and successful author and person.
            What have you got to lose?

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Tim Ouellette is the author of “Fractured”, a collection of dark fiction and poetry available exclusively on Amazon. He’s currently at work on his first full-length novel titled “Fallen”. Visit his website at http://www.timouellette.com and his blog 

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Preview Fractured now on Amazon         


  1. hello tim,
    great article!
    i can see where you're coming from, reading is imporatnt and essential to daily life, in my opinion. but i don't quite agree that what we read as children shaped what we write as authors. as a child i indulged in stories like little women, but mostly i read italian authors. yet everytime i sat to write a fantasy or sci-fi formed on paper. i didn't start reading fantasy or sci-fi until my kids were almost teenagers.
    your article does give food for thought. thanks for sharing

  2. Hi Annamaria,
    Thanks for your comments! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I know that for me a lot of what I read as a child (and then a young adult) stayed with me and became part of the catalyst or "creative spark" I carried with me into adulthood...though to be sure we're all different as writers (and as human beings). Thanks again for reading my article & posting your thoughts! Happy writing!
    Tim Ouellette


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