Thursday, May 1, 2014

Choosing Your Fiction Genre

Dear Fellow Writer,

I hope you're well and happy this week. The weather's not great here. But hey, I like the rain!

Easy Cash Writing - now a #1 bestseller!

My darling wife, Robyn, released a new book for kids this week, a fictionalized telling of the volcanic destruction of Pompeii in AD79. It's called Into The Fire and is available for 99 cents HERE.

I've also put out a meditation track this week called The New Paradigm, featuring a spiritual healer called Martin Johnson. That's on iTunes HERE.

Anyway, today's article is below: 

Choosing a Fiction Genre 


Choosing a fiction genre will have a huge impact on how to plot your stories.

Also, your decision will become vitally important when you’re selling your novels in the fullness of time.

Too many writers leave worrying about a genre classification until the last minute, usually after their manuscript has been written, and then wonder why they can’t find a home for their book, nor even begin to understand how to promote it to potential readers.

Rather than experience years of heartache and frustration in the future, why not make this crucial, literally career-altering decision now.

In case you’re feeling pressured, I’d like to make things easier for you by simplifying the terms of reference.

Ergo, to all intents and purposes let's say there are only three major fiction genres:thriller, romance and fantasy.

Every other genre can be classed as either a sub-genre of one of the big three or a slight derivation, off-shoot or a combination.

Anything that veers too far away from the big three genre classifications is considered ‘literary’, which is publishing code for ‘unpopular’.

This view may seem overly simplistic but it’s really only a reflection of the way readers think about books.

Clearly, if you’re writing novels, you’re interested in selling your fiction to the general public, to readers.

It could be you want to write books that defy classification in the top three genres and you therefore have no aspirations to make money writing fiction.

Fine, if that’s the case, I recommend you immediately stop reading this article and go back to your day job.

Because it's unlikely you'll be successful as an author if you do not aspire to write within a fiction genre.

Have I made my point sufficiently yet?

Genre is what sells books from new writers.

Not your name, not the subject matter, not the cleverness of your writing, nor the sophistication of your plotting. First and foremost, your hurdle to success is identifying your place within one of the big three genres.

Got that?

Do it now.

Choose: Thriller, Romance or Fantasy.

Still feeling some resistance to categorization?

I know, it’s natural, especially when you’re first starting out or if you have a novel you don’t want to be so easily classified.

You might think that writing stories that are original enough not to fall into the big three genres is a good thing.

You’d be wrong.

Readers know what they like. They want genre stories first. They need to feel comfortable with a book before they pick it up, even before they find out what it’s about.

Think about it like ice-cream.

Imagine you went into a shop and asked for an ice-cream cone. The seller would expect you to know which flavor you wanted, right? If not, the shopkeeper might list what he has: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, and so on, expecting you to pick your favorite.

If you’re a regular ice-cream eater, you’re not going to say, Just give me any flavor, mainly because there’s bound to be one you won’t like.

It’s only after you’ve zeroed in on your preferred flavor that you will then spend time considering which toppings you want: crushed nuts, choc chips, sparkles or whatever.

Similarly, readers pick flavors of book fiction first, then look for the toppings: the extras that will make their favorite genre come alive for them.

To seriously push the analogy home, writing fiction with no particular genre in mind is like expecting ice-cream buyers to be drawn to the slop-bucket beneath the counter that contains a bit of everything, lots of dirty water, and probably tastes disgusting.

Can you appreciate why writing within a genre is so important?

Choosing a category that’s already popular is about putting yourself on the fast-track to success. That’s all.

In case you’re confused by my simplistic classifications, for the sake of clarity, I would include science fiction, paranormal or sub-genres like steampunk underFantasy; horror, adventure, mystery, legal or crime novels under Thrillers; and all kinds of human interest stories, historical, medical, family or otherwise in Romance.

You may wish to refute my reasoning. Feel free.

However, I’m sure you get the idea that you should at least pick an over-arching genre category rather than deliberately defy convention in this regard.

It will simply make competing in the marketplace so much easier for you!
Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell
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