Finding a Genre That Works—It’s Harder Than It Looks

I’ve been writing for a long time. It’s been a journey, a long, hard, miserable journey.

Trying to get something published is a pain in the ass. And not really worth a person’s time anymore, since you’re better off self-publishing.

But honestly, none of that matters if you’re not writing. A lot.

For a long time, I tried doing the High fantasy thing. My role model is J. R. R. Tolkein and I wanted to write a sage as big and memorable as The Lord of the Rings.

Personally, I struggled with this. How do I write a story that’s as wonderful as his, but not come off as a cheap rip off?

And trust me, buddy, there are a lot of Tolkien rip-offs out there. So many, it’s kind of sickening.

I danced around the High fantasy thing, with my comedy comic The Wizard of Quippley. But when it came to prose, I just couldn’t bring myself to write a serious High fantasy story. I have boxes of notebooks (and too many digital files to count) with half-finished and nearly-almost-started stories about far-flung fantasy worlds that were just too much like Middle-Earth.

(I think I even did a short webcomic too, if I’m remembering correctly.)

If I’m being honest, I was stuck. The reality is, I can and should write any kind of story I want. I need to push past my internal editor and write a story I’m passionate about. That’s the only kind of story that someone else will bother reading.

But I really didn’t end up writing High fantasy. I got lucky and found another genre that kind of, sort of, fit my needs: occult detective.

I have a bunch of occult detective stories on this website. And many more that never saw the light of day. And a few more that will end up as one format or another down the road. What I love about this sub-sub-genre hybrid is that I can explore weird, scary, fantasy-related stuff, but it’s not as cliché as a Lord of the Rings rip-off.

And that’s kind of ironic because occult detective fiction is sort of a rip-off two different genres: detective mysteries and gothic horror. But combined, it’s kind of its own thing. And that was good enough for me.

Mix in my bend for stupid humor, I can write as many stories as I like and not feel like a hack! I might be a hack, but at least I don’t feel that way.

Over the last few years, I’ve experimented with the occult detective genre. There are already a few good authors out there writing OD books. Most of them are more action-packed, with very serious tones. I wanted to add some humor, in a way that didn’t make my stories ridiculous.

I enjoy this genre and always feel energized when dreaming up new stories. But something was missing. There was a kind of story—and adventurous story—that I wanted to tell, that just didn’t fit with this template.

It was several months ago, I forget when. I had just downloaded the Despecialized Edition of the original Star Wars trilogy. This is a relatively-hard-to-get version of the movies with all the new stuff stripped out. In pretty okay quality format.

This gave me an opportunity to rewatch the original Star Wars films, without thinking about how the modern movies are just so terrible.

Watching the original flicks reminded me of how much Star Wars impacted my imagination. It was one of those series that made me want to write and draw.

It was then that I realized I had to write my own outer space adventure. A space opera, if you will.

So, I started to dream up a brand new story, set in a far-flung galaxy, with my own heroes and villains.

And it was then that I learned just how incredibly hard it is to write a science fantasy epic. At least one that doesn’t suck.

To be continued…