Every writer needs to find their unique voice and what it is about their story that makes it stand out.

Genre Short Story Courses AllYour story will have its best chance of finding its audience if you are aware of what genre your story fits into and what your readers’ expectations are. Bearing in mind, the fiction world is divided into roughly two segments: literary fiction and commercial/genre fiction.

If you are writing literary fiction, you can pay less attention to genre expectations. But even writers of literature can benefit from an understanding of the pattern and conventions of genre.

When publishers and agents assess a manuscript and whether they think it will sell, they ask themselves, what shelf they can I see it placed on in bookshops?

Readers choose a novel searching for entertainment and a specific emotional experience. Understanding the patterns and expectations of different genres is one powerful way to craft that entertaining, emotional experience.

Matt Birdsecrets fo story“Many writers fear that if they try to write for an audience they’ll end up pandering or chasing the market. Indeed, both of these are bad, because the audience doesn’t want to control your narrative. They want you to control their experience. They want you to masterfully manipulate their emotional experience and take them on a journey. Figuring out how to do this should be the number one goal for any writer.” Matt Bird

Every writer needs to find their unique voice and what it is about their story that makes it stand out. Your story will have its best chance of finding its audience if you are aware of what genre your story fits into.

Time travellers wifeCS Lakin: “I can’t emphasise this enough. Too many writers structure books that seem to be in a particular genre, but these expected elements or styles are missing. This confuses readers. This is not to say you can’t cross or combine genres. It’s done all the time, for example, The Time Traveler’s Wife. Suffice to say, if you are clear about your genre, know the specific audience you are writing for, and know their expectations, you will have the best chance at success.”

A writer might write well, have some great plot and concept ideas, even wonderful characters and a compelling setting. But if the novel isn’t carefully structured and written to fit a specific genre aimed at a specific audience, it often fails to get traction when published.

By understanding genre, you can gain an insight into what your reader is expecting when they buy and then read your book. You don’t have to slavishly adhere to genre structure, but by understanding each genre’s dynamics and promises you can meet your reader’s expectations and deliver the most powerful reader experience.

John Truby“Writers typically underestimate the importance of mastering genre. The reason genre is so important is that the entire entertainment business is based on it. Genres aren’t just systems for expressing certain themes. They are also strategies for storytelling.

“One of the ways genres set themselves apart from one another is that they each ask a different central question and force the main character to make a crucial decision.”
John Truby, The Anatomy of Story

By learning the basics of the various genres, you can add drama, depth and resonance to your characters and stories.

Randy Ingermanson said, “Think about any of the major genres of fiction and you see that each packs some sort of emotional punch.”

Romance novels and erotica deliver some combination of love and lust.

emotionsSuspense novels, thrillers, action-adventure novels and horror fiction all deliver various flavours of excitement and fear.

Mysteries arouse a strong sense of curiosity and usually deliver a healthy dose of fear.

Historical novels, fantasy and science fiction all give the reader an experience of being “elsewhere.”

General fiction and literary fiction can deliver any of the preceding emotions, along with a strong sense of feeling understood.”.

Some genre writers straddle a line between genre-focused commercial fiction and the traditions of literary fiction. J.R.R. Tolkien developed a worldwide following within the fantasy genre, yet his Lord of the Rings trilogy is famous for its intricate themes.

We are in the process of writing a series of articles about the major genres – Thriller, Love, Comedy, Fantasy and Memoir.

The Importance of Genre – Introduction -

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