Choosing the Perfect Genre: A Comprehensive Guide for Authors
This is a summary article that broadly covers a complex topic – for more specific advice, please ask inside the Colony.
An aspiring author might be talented in many writing styles but they would be wise to choose the genre in which they will specialize. The genre sets the tone, themes, and expectations for a book, and will influence its marketability and readership. However, with the extensive range of genres defining the book market today, selecting the right one can be a daunting task.
- Identify Your Passion and Interests: The first step in choosing a genre is to explore your own passions and interests. Think about the topics and themes that excite you, the stories that resonate with you and which you find memorable. Your enthusiasm for a genre will drive your creativity and motivate you throughout the writing process. For instance, J.K. Rowling’s passion for fantasy led her to create the beloved “Harry Potter” series, which has captivated readers of all ages.
- Consider Your Writing Style and Voice: Every author has a unique voice and writing style. It makes sense to choose a genre that aligns with these aspects of your writing. Take a moment to reflect on your strengths as a writer. If you are skilled at crafting intricate plots, like Agatha Christie, you might decide to write murder mysteries. Or you might choose to write in the romance genre if, like Nicholas Sparks, you excel in writing poignant romance novels. Take your time to identify and develop your writer’s voice and style. These will guide you toward the genres where you can truly shine.
- Analyze Market Trends and Demographics: While it’s crucial to write from the heart, considering market trends and demographics can help you make informed and practical decisions. Research the current publishing landscape to identify the genres that are thriving in terms of sales and readership. Look at the works of contemporary bestselling authors who dominate the charts in their respective genres. For example:
a) Stephen King, renowned for his mastery of horror, has consistently topped bestseller lists with chilling tales like “It” and “The Shining.”
b) Paula Hawkins found immense success with her psychological thriller “The Girl on the Train,” capitalizing on the popularity of the genre.
c) George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire” (adapted as “Game of Thrones”) became a cultural phenomenon, highlighting the enduring appeal of fantasy.
- Consider Genre Combinations: In today’s literary landscape, blending genres has become increasingly popular. Authors often experiment with hybrid genres, creating unique and refreshing narratives. For instance, Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series combines elements of dystopian science fiction with young adult fiction, appealing to a wide range of readers. Exploring genre combinations can provide opportunities to carve out a distinct niche for your work.
- Research Genre Conventions and Expectations: Each genre has its own set of conventions and reader expectations. Familiarize yourself with these expectations to ensure your work aligns with the genre’s characteristics. For example, romance novels typically focus on the development of a romantic relationship and end with a happily ever after. Conversely, crime thrillers usually involve a suspenseful investigation leading to the resolution of a crime. Understanding these conventions will enable you to deliver a satisfying reading experience for your target audience.
- Test the Waters: If you’re torn between genres or unsure about a particular choice, consider writing short stories or sample chapters in different genres. This lets you explore various styles and themes, and helps you discover where your skills and interests truly lie. It also provides an opportunity to gather feedback from beta readers or writing groups. Such feedback can provide insights into the strengths of your writing across different genres.
- Remain Open to Change: Life, especially for an author, is filled with surprises and unexpected turns. While it’s prudent to choose a genre in which to specialize, it’s important to remain flexible and open to exploration. Some authors, like Neil Gaiman, successfully transition between genres, creating diverse bodies of work. Your writing career will evolve, and your interests may change over time, so don’t be afraid to venture into new genres.
Choosing a genre will influence the trajectory of your career as an author. But you can choose gradually, after you have thought through these points of guidance. Remember, while marketability is important, writing from the heart and staying true to your own creative voice are key factors in your eventual success.
This is a broad overview of a dynamic topic: for specific help and encouragement at every stage of your writing life, join the Colony!