Monday, May 9, 2011

Decide On Your Genre BEFORE You Write The Story

We were talking this weekend at the OWFI conference in Oklahoma City about defining genres in writing. One question came up that I thought was really insightful and I wanted to share it here. The writer simply asked if a writer should decide before or after the story is written what genre the book would be marketed as.

Honestly, I believe that many writers have gotten into trouble making decisions about their books after it is written. Figuring out where you story belongs, what the high concept is, and determining the genre is something that needs to be determined early on in the writing process. Everything that you put into the book, the type of character, the voice of the story and so forth are dictated by the story.

The genre you decide to write will dictate what elements of the story need to be brought up to the front and what elements can be made secondary elements. If it is a women's fiction story, then we will want to know more about who she is and what she is learning in the story. If it is a suspense novel, then the suspense element is brought more to the forefront.

The result of not deciding early on will often result in a story that apparently shifts focus and direction throughout the story. Sure, the plot may maintain a pace, but the focus and voice become inconsistent. A confused reader will often lose faith in the story.

And for the writers and organizers of OWFI - Awesome job! Loved the conference and can't wait to come back and see you all!

1 comment:

  1. Oops! Already wrote it... Now I am having trouble knowing where it fits.

    I never actually intended to write a book, which is why I did not pick a genre first.

    Now that I have written it, my manuscript fits multiple places. It is epic or high fantasy, but also has some sci fi elements, and light romance. I have read that when you cross certain genres, it is called speculative fiction.

    Would that work in this scenerio?

    For instance, I read the Harry Potter books are speculative because of all the genres in them, but it is also YA, and epic. Is there a source that best describes this in your opinion?

    Thank you so much!