I swear, this advice always sends me into a panic. It tends to make me feel like I’m a fraud, trying to write a thriller (or any genre).
But then my better sense kicks in. Then, when I think of someone advising, “know thy genre,” I want to say:
Are you out of your mind???
I write in all genres and one genre. Kinky romance, as you know, but I’ve played with every genre within that one. I literally know that genre. Like, I’ve read everything. Okay, I haven’t read anything in the past three years. But when I started writing it, and for the first five years that I did, I’d read it all.
No, I mean it. I’m not exaggerating. I’d read Every. Single. Thing.
So when someone suggests that I should know my genre, I walk into the three-aisle thriller section and hyperventilate. I seriously feel like I should read Every. Single. One.
My rational mind realizes that the admonition to know thy genre doesn’t really mean every single one. (Even though I do have a list on my computer of every single spy story I could find.) That would be impossible. But given my history, I’m used to the comfortable feeling of knowing all of it.
It makes it so much easier and so much more fun, because when you know all the rules and conventions, you can break every single one with (embarrassingly enough) a fair bit of cockiness because you KNOW that it will work.
Without that knowledge, you may accidentally break the rules, and by sheer luck it might work, but … you don’t know that.
So I’m sitting and looking at this pile of books that grows incessantly higher on my desk, this pile of books that says, “How dare you think of tackling the Big N before you’ve read me?!”
Do you struggle with the feelings of inadequacy concerning the number of books you’ve read?