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Let Your Genre Pick You

by S. Eliza Gregory 2 years ago in literature

Deciding which genre to write...

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So you've got an idea for a story, but you're fretting over what genre or category you're going to put it in when it's ready for sale. Or maybe you're just starting out as a writer, and you want to build your platform and marketing base before you write anything... STOP. Don't worry yourself over literary labels. First, focus on writing your story, THEN worry about marketing and building a platform.

People say that you need to know your genre before you start, because you need to know your target audience. Write the damn story. Don't worry about if that grumpy guy you work with will finally be impressed, or if that chick on the fourth floor of your apartment building will disapprove. Yes, your audience is important, but I think it's total bullshit to try and target some sort of generalized stereotype... especially when you're just starting out, and you want anyone to read your book.

So, I wanted to write a novel in the fantasy genre... but horror came out?

Story of my life. When I first started writing, I wanted to be a fantasy author—strictly fantasy. I wanted to write about magic, sorcerers, and evil queens. However, all of the ideas I got were dark. Some of them may have seemed like love stories at first, but then they always turned dark. I had no interest in the horror genre, and tried to fight it. Don't do that. Embrace what comes to you naturally. If you start writing what you intend to be sci-fi, but it turns western, go with it. See where it takes you. Cowboys and Aliens, anyone?

Even now, for this year's NaNoWriMo, I sat down to write what I thought would be a fantasy novel about self-discovery and a rite of passage with a love story intertwined, but do you know what happened? It turned completely dark. The fantastical elements are more pronounced, and I don't even think a love story still exists! And I'm fine with that. I'm not going to force the ebb and flow of creativity a certain way (another writer in a Facebook group suggested that we should... because we are writers and therefore gods or something... I don't know. They spoke about how we're supposed to control everything. I think they had issues).

OK. I went with the flow, finished, and edited my piece. Now what?

With your short story or novel being completed, it should be much easier to decipher which genre your writing leans toward. Yet, have you seen your Netflix genres lately? There's action, there's drama, there's supernatural horror thriller with science fiction elements, and a strong female lead. Wait. What? Yeah.

And music has become the same way. No, that's not rock music, that's indie adult alternative. When did everything get so complicated? You're not going to be subjected to a firing squad if you mark your book as "action" when it's "suspense." I can't say the same for you if you label it as "romance," and it's really a sport's almanac. Those romantics can be feisty. But I think I've made my point here. What's most important is to A) not pigeon hole yourself into a specific genre, and B) don't get tied up and concerned with all of the details right away.

There is a time and a place for picking a genre, and before you write the story isn't it. The most important things you can do as a writer are to focus on your story, and continuously seek to better your writing. If you produce quality work on a consistent basis, the rest will fall into place.

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S. Eliza Gregory

S. Eliza Gregory is a science-fiction and fantasy author. Her debut novel, In Articulo Mortis, is currently available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Google Play Books, and more.

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