Overused Techniques and Genres? I Think Not!

Greetings to one and all. Beem Weeks back with you this fine spring day! Today, I want to share with you a few thoughts on writing techniques and genres. Is it possible to over-use these tools?

Chapter one

Recently, Story Empire’s Mae Clair wrote an informative piece on crafting stories with dual timelines. If you missed it, find it HERE. It really is worth your time as a writer. As I so often do, I re-blogged the story to lure my blog’s followers over to the Story Empire site. Mae’s post received positive feedback from readers on both sites.

However, there was one reader on my site who left a comment that spoke of the overuse of the dual timeline technique. First, she added her own two cents on what makes for an interesting story using a dual timeline. Her points were valid. But afterward, she claimed that dual timeline stories have flooded the market in recent years.

So, here’s the gist of my post. Can techniques be overused? And, while I’m at it, can genres fall under the same spell?

The exact quote from the comment reads as follows: “I do think, too, that the market has been kind of flooded with dual timelines over the last few years, and judging by review trends and social media conversations, it seems to me that readers are cooling on them a little and becoming generally more critical of them.”

My take on this is different from the one leaving the comment. If I find a book that really pulls me in, takes me away, and has the power to stick in my head long after I’ve closed its pages, that’s the sort of book I want to read again and again. I’ll go out of my way to find more stories like that one. I love historical fiction. It’s my favorite genre. When done right, a novel or short story can transport me back in time to an era I recall from childhood, or even to a time before I existed. That the market is awash in historical fiction is a massive understatement.

Amazon fills my email box daily with notices of new and exciting releases—and even older ones I have yet to purchase. Book Bub pushes novels from big-named authors who have dabbled in the genre. Most of the historical fiction I’ve read has been mediocre at best. Some have been masterclasses in cliché—characters and plots alike. However, from time to time there arrives something that grabs hold of me and refuses to turn me loose. These are gems worth searching out. From the very first moment I read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, that novel became my favorite. It nudged me toward seeking out more stories set in different eras.

There have been many other titles that populate my top twenty favorite novels—most fall into the historical fiction genre. Do I believe this genre is flooding the market? Yes. Do I think that’s a bad thing? Not at all.


Many (MANY) years ago, I checked out a copy of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire from the local library. I had seen the movie and thought it was an interesting enough story. But how did the source material stack up? The book added different dimensions to some of the characters that didn’t translate to the silver screen. I tried another from Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Soon, I had read most of them. Rice didn’t create the vampire horror genre; she simply gave it her own flavor. What followed was an avalanche of vampire stories. Some were entertaining, most were horrible. While I’ve never read any of the Stephanie Meyer Twilight stories, I did attempt to watch one of the movies. I think I made it to the fifteen-minute mark before jettisoning away from that awful dreck. (Bad acting, bad writing, bad everything.)

Even Anne Rice herself stopped pumping out stories in that vampire horror genre. She became bored with it after decades. If you’ve ever read her later vampire chronicles, you probably sensed her boredom there on the pages. But that doesn’t mean the genre is overused and therefore no longer viable. On the contrary. There are always fresh takes on the vampire tale (or in historical fiction or science fiction). There are also unique approaches to writing the dual timeline story!

Businessman working from home on laptop, sitting on balcony

I write what interests me. If two million other authors employ the same techniques that I use, I see no problem. In fact, I’m likely to read some of those other authors. That’s just how it works. So, write what excites you. Write because you enjoy it. Don’t look at what others are doing and get discouraged. Just have fun telling your stories.

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75 thoughts on “Overused Techniques and Genres? I Think Not!

  1. Pingback: Overused Techniques and Genres? I Think Not! – menthor of mind

  2. I agree with you, Beem. I remember after Twilight came out there were a ton of teenage/vampire/werewolf romances. After The Hunger Games came out, there followed a bunch of teenage competition-to-the-death romances. In both of those cases, I think the repetitive – copycat – nature of the plots were more problematic than the genre. My point is, I guess, that it’s not a story’s genre or delivery vehicle that wears thin, but a lack of originality. Writing isn’t easy! We only have so many genres and plots to work with, and we have to work hard to make them stand out. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you, Beem. We need to be comfortable writing what we like. I have no issues with people writing what they like. If done well, it will make me want to read it. If not, then I pass. Just because the market is flooded with one genre or something we don’t care for, doesn’t mean someone else may not want to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Beem, an interesting post. I think the market is generally saturated with books and stories of all genres, styles, and lengths. With no barriers to entry, everyone can write and publish a book and lots of people do. I have come to the conclusion that writing for me will always be just a hobby as it is just to difficult to break into the market and make a living wage writing now with so much competition. With that in mind, I am definitely writing what I want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree there is much competition, Robbie. If we write it well, we may find a small fan base. You are correct, it is difficult to earn a living at the craft today. Thank you for stopping by.


  5. I think in any creative area, people flock to what seems to work. Of course, what works in writing is well-written books or short stories. What works in music is songs we want to listen to over and over. What works in art is an image we can’t walk away from. As long as people can create works like this, I’ll read/listen/stare. When I see someone like Mae talking about a subject she does so well, I’m gonna listen.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m a big fan of vampire stories. Like Kim, I’ve read Twilight, HON, True Blood, and so many more. Interview with a Vampire didn’t hold my interest. I currently read two different series with 20+ books in them, and they never get old. The focus isn’t on the bloodsucking but on the character’s arc, and I love that. I agree with you on the Twilight movies, Beem. Horrible acting, directing, etc. I also agree with your post. If the author puts their own take on the storylines, the market doesn’t become flooded; it becomes interesting. Great post!

    Yvette M Calleiro 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I do think certain genres and trends can easily saturate the market, but I don’t see that as a bad thing as long as there are fresh and interesting stories to be told (as you said). When it comes to dual timeline stories, they have definitely crossed into the trending area, and I know many readers don’t care for them. I also remember when vampire books were trending, YA exploded in popularity, and paranormal romance took off. I even know of writers who switched genres depending on what was trending at the time. They hopped from one genre to the next to “catch the wave.”

    I can’t do that. Like most who’ve commented here, I write the stories that live in my heart and mind. I wrote my first dual timeline novel when the genre was just a blip on the radar, and fell in love with the concept. Interestingly, my current WIP is a straightforward mystery set in the present, so I do tend to hop around, LOL. The good thing about writing (and being indie authors) is that we don’t have to stick to trending patterns. I think there’s a niche market for almost everything. BTW, I love historical novels, too!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m with you, Mae. I can’t do the genre-hopping ride. I write what comes to me. What I love to read inspires my genres. Since I’ve never been a big sci-fi reader, I’ve never been motivated to write in that genre. I enjoy historical fiction set in various decades within the 20th century. Saturated market? Yep. But there are many fine authors and stories to be found. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There are lots of EVERYTHING out there, but if a story is told well, it doesn’t matter. It will pull the reader in and hold their attention. I think what happens, though, is if a certain kind of story hits it big, then publishers look for something similar and will settle for ones that aren’t as good just so that they have a dual timeline…or vampire….or whatever’s popular at the moment, too. And then the market gets glutted. But you’re right. A good book is a good book, no matter what.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’ve made some great points, Judi. We see what’s popular being replicated in writing, music, movies. Replication often fails to meet the level of quality established in the original. And you are correct: there is lots of EVERYTHING out there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My takeaway from your excellent post is any genre can be overused if the writing stinks. If stories are well crafted, the reader will enjoy them no matter what. Like you, I write because I enjoy doing so. Also, if others enjoy what I write, all the better. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Beem.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. You make a good point here, Beem. My takeaway from the post is that a fresh perspective or interpretation of an overused theme is not a bad thing. Let’s face it. There are only so many basic story ideas, just as there are only eight basic notes in music, but the combinations that can be made are what create unique melodies. The same is true with our stories. The bottom line is a well-written story in any genre is a joy to read! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think what happens, and probably happened to your correspondent, is that an individual gets fed up with a particular genre.
    I read many of Anne Rice’s vampire books and thoroughly enjoyed them. I went on to read other vampire stories, but now I wouldn’t read one as they’ve become boring–to me, at least.
    Similarly with werewolf and zombie tales. (Although I never liked zombie stories!)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Beem. The market is flooded with every genre, and whether reader or writer, we choose that which stirs our hearts. I don’t write to write. I write to share a bit of my soul and hope someone somewhere might appreciate that tidbit – irrespective of the genre. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I agree with you 100%. I write the stories that interest me, and I read the types of stories that interest me. I happen to enjoy well-written dual-timeline stories. If the person who commented doesn’t like them, she doesn’t have to read them. There are plenty of other books out there to read. I used to read Amish fiction. I lost interest, and IMO that’s a genre that has been overdone. However, I think it’s still around so there is a market for it.

    Bottom line. Keep writing what you love. Great post, Beem.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Pingback: Overused Techniques and Genres? I Think Not! | Legends of Windemere

  15. I’m with you, Beem. I write the stories that I’m moved to tell, and I read the stories that interest me. No book will appeal to everyone, and every story will appeal to someone. That’s the nature of our vocation. When something tires me, I stop reading it and move to something else. But I’d never say we should get rid of that technique, genre, or trope. Just because I no longer find (or never found) something appealing doesn’t mean I should force other people to abandon it.

    Great post.

    Liked by 7 people

  16. Spot on, Beem! Trends come and go, but marvelous stories stay. We do not notice some books until it’s their time in the spotlight. It wasn’t until The Da Vinci Code hit the shelves that Dan Brown’s earlier novels became popular.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. A well-written book is a delight. All I need is a gripping storyline, great characters and atmosphere. I avoided fantasy until recently – Diana was the one who converted me to that genre! – and, regardless of the genre, if the book grabs me then it’s all I ask for. Thanks, Beem!

    Liked by 5 people

  18. Food for thought, Beem. For years, I enjoyed writing romantic susupense – steamy and Christian. When I began to struggle for ideas, I changed genre to crime and the stories started to flow again. I agree that if the author is bored, it shows, and I wanted to avoid that.

    Liked by 6 people

    • That’s a great point to consider, Sarah. Authors do get bored from time to time. And it will show in their work. A change of genre is a great option. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  19. I don’t believe dual-timeline stories are overdone. I agree with you on that. I love all the new historical tv series that have come out recently. On the other hand, I couldn’t get into the “Interview with a Vampire” movies or books. I thought it was kind of bad acting although they were some big-name actors in it who I had loved in other things. I had bought the books by Anne Rice and gave them away to a fan of hers with who I’d worked. I loved both the books and movies for the Twilight Series. There’s also a vampire book series called House of Night which is a whole different kind of vampire/series that I loved. They are written by a Mother/Daughter writing team (P.C. and Kristin Cast), and they were supposed to be made into either movie or tv series but as far as I know, a date still hasn’t been set. I think Twilight and House of Night may be considered more for young adults and although I’m an old woman, guess I’m young at heart. LOL! I also read all of the True Blood Series and watched their HBO TV series. Everyone’s tastes differ and that’s a good thing. In the historical genre, In movies and tv shows, I love sword fights, Vikings, King Arthur and Merlin, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Hobbits whereas my husband prefers romance and romantic comedies. He also likes to go shopping and I don’t. I’d rather shop online if I have to shop, or order it and let him pick it up. Don’t tell him I said that. LOL! He prefers to laugh and I like action. Oh, and I read most of the Plantagenet series by Jean Plaidy. Love reading about royalty stories, especially back in the 1300s through 1500s. I watch everything in those eras on television too.

    Liked by 7 people

    • You speak truth, Kim. Everyone’s tastes differ. And this is a good thing. It opens the markets to variety and creativity that would quickly become boring and stale if we all liked the same things. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


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