What kind of writer are you?

What kind of writer are you? It’s a question all writers get. People have a need to pin a label on a writer. That way they’ll know which file drawer to put him or her in. Let’s take a look at a few well-known writers and ask them the same question. First, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created Sherlock Holmes. A mystery writer, right? Well, not exactly. Aside from creating the most famous detective in the world, Conan Doyle also created Professor Challenger. Never heard of him? He was a seminal science fiction character. He was also the literary ancestor of Indiana Jones and thousands of other fictional scientist/explorers. Professor Challenger appeared in short stories and novels, the most well-known being, The Lost World. It was made into a movie a number of times. It’s about Challenger’s discovery of a secret valley where dinosaurs still live. So, Conan Doyle was a mystery and science fiction writer. That’s pretty simple. Except it’s not accurate. Conan Doyle also wrote supernatural horror stories, historical novels, mainstream, non-fiction, true crime, romance, poetry, and what would now be called new age.

Let’s look at a more contemporary example, Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles, and Fahrenheit 451. At one point, while he was still alive, his books had this slogan on them: “World’s Greatest Living Science Fiction Writer.” The only problem is that it wasn’t true. In fact, much of what Bradbury wrote was fantasy. He also wrote horror stories, suspense, mystery, mainstream, non- fiction, poetry and even children’s books.

ray bradbury

Here’s another writer you may have heard of, Stephen King. Horror writer, right? Well, he does write horror, but does that make him a horror writer? Aside from Carrie, The Shining and others, he has also written mainstream, suspense, fantasy, non- fiction, mystery and crime stories.

One more writer, Isaac Asimov. Now, here we definitely have a science fiction writer. He’s the author of The Foundation series, The Galactic Empire series, the creator of the three laws of robotics. If ever there was a science fiction writer, it was Asimov. Uh, not so fast. Asimov also wrote mysteries, fantasy, non-fiction books about science, scholarly, annotated books, memoirs, even limericks.

This list of unclassifiable authors is by no means limited to the few writers I cited. So many writers who have become known for one type of subject, write about a variety of things. People like to categorize writers as if they were produce in a supermarket. The problem is that writers aren’t heads of lettuce. What kind of writer are you? The kind who writes.