All right, so this is something I sort of have done, having written screenplays in the past that were not entirely fantasy, having written fantasy and preparing to write a literary novel (after finishing my 2nd novel, ROSEHEAD) called IRKADURA and set in the 80's in Soviet Union, and after that a sci-fi novel called PAGE TURNER (temporary title for now). Both concepts are already worked out and both go beyond what I have done before. And you know what? I'm so excited to try something new, that I tell you, disregard what anyone says, jump around as much as you want! Take a look at Hugh Howey, the indie success story who broke through the sky with his sci-fi novel WOOL, and who has been talking about trying romance and other genres. I say, do the same. Write what excites you, write until you feel comfortable, and then throw yourself into a new uncomfortable genre. Why? To stay motivated and hungry. Let me illustrate.
Write not to fit into a genre, write to stay true to yourself. I get many people asking me about the types of books I write and what genre they are in, and I always have a hard time describing my stories, because they are part fantasy, part mystery, part suspense, there is even some romance there, and lately I've been tempted to add sci-fi elements too. I remember way back, when I just started writing SIREN SUICIDES, I was worried sick about how to categorize it, and then I simply gave up. I thought, I will write what I feel and then it will categorize itself. And it did! My Beta Readers categorized it for me as urban fantasy. Same goes for any story. I think genres have been invented by readers, to be able to navigate the massive amounts of books writers produce. Of course, I don't have factual knowledge to back up this fact, but it makes sense, doesn't it? There are plenty of writers who write for a very specific genre, but unless you have done a lot of writing to know how you can follow the rules and write something very specific, if you're a rookie writer like me, I say, forget about genres all together. Write how it feels true to you and to you only.
Let the story dictate the genre, not the other way around. Here is a recent example I can share with you. I set out to write ROSEHEAD as pure fantasy, and as soon as I started it, it made me add elements from classic detective murder stories, and the deeper I went, the more pronounced they became. At this point, I don't even know what specific genre or sub-genre it is, but I do know that not worrying about it gave me freedom to write it as it unfolded itself. The biggest obstacle any writer has is the infamous writer's block, and one reason we have it is doubt. Trying to pick out a genre will only add to your doubt and threaten to block you. Drop it. Let your story flow, especially let it flow when you're writing your 1st draft. It will unfold and surprise you, and when you start editing it, it will start shining, ultimately becoming a certain genre itself, without you having to do anything with it.
Pick new challenges, push yourself to grow as a writer. When you stay in the realm of the same old comfortable genre, you eventually stop growing. It's like having a job for many years and being afraid to move on. You know your coworkers, you've gotten used to them, to your routine, you know what you have to do inside and out. Of course you don't want to move! But you also feel like you're starting to get bored a little, then some more, and more, until you lose your creative spark and wonder what happened. Fatigue is what happened. We were designed in such a way that we had to constantly move and forage for food when we were hunting for mammoths, before we could buy prepackaged mammoths in a supermarket (well, not exactly mammoths, but you get the point). This doesn't mean that you have to abandon your genre all together. No, not at all. It only means that once in a while it's good to break out of a well oiled machine and try something new. You never know what you will find, but the energy of learning will make you hungry again, hungry and excited, so I say, got for it! Try it. If it doesn't work, you can always write another book.
Have fun! We writers often forget this very simple rule. Writing, above all, is pure fun. Just think about it. You get to fool people, you get to make up the craziest stuff you can come up with, you make people believe in it, and then, on top of it all, you make people pay for it, to partake in your imagination. I mean, is there anything better than that? Want to try writing romance? Do it. Want to try your hand at horror? Why not, go for it! Want to hammer out a sci-fi novel or two? You can make it happen. You can write any story, in any genre, you're a writer, and that's what writers do. Like Anton Chekhov said, "I can write about anything you like. ... Tell me to write about this bottle, and I will give you a story entitled "The Bottle."
Well then, what are you waiting for? Go jump genres and see what you come up with! And chime in here, I would love to know what you think on the subject, as always.