Monday, May 8, 2017

What Is Your Genre? What Is Your Story Arc?

This last weekend, I had the chance to attend the Seattle Writer's Workshop. One of the things that really jumped out at me as I talked to writers, were the number that really did not know what genre they were writing. They had some ideas, and many were simply working with what others had told them the story might be, Some simply were guessing. 

Knowing your genre is exceedingly important. That knowledge dictates the approaches you take to simple things such as tone, dialogue, pacing, character types and tropes. But there is also a larger piece that so many writers miss out on. Knowing your genre will guide you marketing of the book.

Now, when I speak of marketing, I am talking not only about the marketing you would do to bring in new readers, but also the marketing you would do when finding the right publisher or agent, and even pitching that project to the editor or agent. For those of you who are taking the self-publishing approach, knowing your exact genre will guide you when deciding where on the virtual bookshelf you plan on placing your book. 

The thing to remember is that your story is not going to go to every single editor or agent out there. If you think about this as a job application, you are only going to apply to the jobs that you are most suited for, right? Same thing here. 

So, to understand your story, think of your central story arc. Focus only on the main storyline. Ignore all of the other subplots, themes and so forth. Obviously, this will also include your setting. In other words, if you are setting the story on Mars, the odds are this is going to be science fiction. If your story involved werewolves and vampires, the odds are you are writing paranormal. Time period before 1945? Probably historical. 

One of the easiest things to do, if you are still unclear, is to go to a bookstore and dig around to where you believe the bookseller would place your book. If you are just looking at something that is general fiction, you may want to take the time to think about it as literary, bookclub, humorous, etc.

In reality, this is something you should have decided BEFORE you wrote the story. But, if you are someone playing a little "catch-up", this might help!

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