Over the course of my life, I’ve compiled a sort of Writing To-Do List. I would encounter genres or general plot types and think, “Oh, I’d like to write something along those lines someday.” And just like that, the item in question would hop on to my mental list.
It wasn’t a serious list at first, of course. I’ve treated my writing very casually and for the greater part of my life never believed that I could finish even one book, let alone an assorted spectrum of them. (This is foolishness, of course, but I labored under it for probably fifteen years, and I still battle with a variation of it to this day.) Recently, though, as I’ve been taking a more serious look at this my chosen pastime, I decided it was time to define and review that list of genres and tropes.
My Writing To-Do List:
- Future dystopia
- Epic-style fantasy trilogy
- Fairy tale adaptation
- Story based on/inspired by Beowulf*
- Pride & Prejudice adaptation**
- Genre parody/satire
- YA fantasy series (3+ books)
- High school setting
- Horror story
- 1st person point-of-view
- 2nd person point-of-view
- Shakespeare adaptation
- Coming-of-age novel (Bildungsroman)
- Dickensian characters and/or plot
- Regency-era romance
- Mythology adaptation
- Epistolary novel/novella
*insert alternate pre-Gutenberg epic here
**insert alternate Jane Austen novel here
As you can see, the list hits pretty much every branch on the Genre Tree it fell out of, but that was the point. I’ve never liked the idea of pigeon-holing myself into one type of writing. I don’t really see why I should, either.
Items 1, 3, and (arguably) 18, I’ve already accomplished. A few others are in process. Some can be combined. Others still, I somehow doubt I’ll ever tackle. (Items 10, 15, and 16, I’m looking at you.) Even so, it’s worth writing them down. I never would’ve written A Boy Called Hawk as a future dystopia if I hadn’t put it on the list, for example; I was half-joking when I thought I’d like to try a dystopian setting someday, but the thought stuck.
The point is not to accomplish all of them well. It’s more to answer that burning, narcissistic question, “What would X look like if I were the one who wrote it?” Or, in other words, what would my creative fingerprint produce under this parameter? It’s like a test to see where my personal literary boundaries lie. Only, this test will probably take a lifetime to finish.
Well, as the old saying goes, Jack of all trades, master of none. In the end, it’s all fun and games anyway.