This was one of my problems when I first published an adult novel and then switched to Young Adult.
Should authors produce the same kinds of stories? Personally I loved reading Maria V Snyder’s Poison Study series and then the Healer series and finding them both basically the same kind of story, with the same type of heroine, love interest, and even a pair of allies who treated the heroine like a sister.
The same with David Gemmell’s heroic fantasy novels – mostly starring loner former heroes past their prime (Druss, Waylander, Jon Shannow) or young outcasts (Skilgannon, Gaelen) with a token warrior woman who will still need rescuing, often with some kind of man-beast hybrid that would have to be murdered eventually. I could pick up any Gemmell book and know exactly what I would be getting. There is always a quiet swordsman, a brute, and an archer in the team novels.
John Green writes manic pixie dream girls and boys as love interests.
Rick Riordan writes about descendants of mythological gods.
Cassandra Clare writes thinly veiled Harry Potter fanfiction.
Richelle Mead writes YA heroines who are smart and sassy and go-getters.
Stephanie Meyer specialises in weird love triangles.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Personally I like being able to say, “I feel exactly like a David Gemmell novel” and being able to pick up one that hits all the right buttons.
My own writing
Both of my full-length novels are wildly different.
- Adult vs teen protagonist.
- POC vs white ‘goth’ girl
- Sci-fi vs paranormal.
- Established relationship vs new love interest.
- Deep space vs suburbia.
- Limited characters vs larger cast.
But there are certain similarities:
- Strong/powerful female lead
- Diverse cast
- Feminist slant on the storyline
- Both heroines overcome their own issues and are the agents of their own stories
- BUT both heroines need the help of their friends/allies to do so
- Both characters’ actions propel the storyline forward.
- I like to think of them as both active heroines, not passive.
That is what I’m aiming for in my ‘branding’.
In all of the stories I write, I want those similarities to be there. I want someone to be able to identify a Lissa Bilyk novel and be able to say, “Yes, I recognise those elements from her other novels” even though I’m writing in different genres with different plots and different characters.
I want my books to be different but familiar.