What makes Harry Potter the best-selling series of all time? Magical creatures? Wizards? Plot?
All these features contributed to the sale of more than 500 million copies of the book, but the leading factor was undoubtedly the genre. The magical (literally!) book genre is a blend of children’s fiction and fantasy fiction, both of which are the topmost book genres of all time!
If you have set out to write your first book, figuring out the appropriate genre can be daunting.
Romance? Sci-Fi? Fantasy? Historical? Mystery? Young adult?
It is also possible that you don’t like a particular genre. So, what is the right formula for choosing the right genre? Read on to find out.
Choose what you already like
If you don’t like romance, chances are rare that you will be able to write a successful story in the same genre.
But, if you like thrillers, crime novels, mysteries; and Agatha Christie novels adorn your bookshelves, then your mind is more likely to weave a suspense masterpiece.
However, it doesn’t mean sticking strictly to exclusively the genres you love. Find out your natural flair and experiment writing in different genres.
Begin with short stories in diverse genres, and gather views from avid readers.
Familiarize yourself with different options
It is essential to know about your options before you kick off. Go through the works of various writers in different genres.
Familiarize yourself with the classifications for fiction, stories, and poetry. Once you decide a genre, go through its top-selling books.
Get to know about basic writing techniques followed in the genre of your choice, for example, a suspense must contain dilemmas, complicated matters, unpredictable scenes, impending danger, escalating tension, and a good antagonist to fetch sufficient empathy from your readers.
Sometimes writers experiment blending two to three elements of different genre in a book. For example, Fiona Barton, in her debut novel The Widow, builds twisted crime stories out of troubled marriage. The result is a fine blend of psychological thriller, suspense, and mystery, making the book Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.
Combining genres increases your chances of hooking the readers and you can successfully try your hands on it. However, make sure that if you do so, one of them is primary. Once it is done, mix the other genre in a way that it fits in seamlessly.
Identifying genre elements in your story
Rather than choosing a genre, you can identify genre elements in the story you have in your mind. Introspect about the story closely. Is it a love story? Does it contain crime scenes, suspicious elements, thrilling encounters? Has it been set in the past, present or future? What is the most prominent aspect that makes the plot develop?
The answer to all these questions will help you narrow the focus. What elements are you safe to play with?
Don’t rush into a decision about the genre and bang your head around it. Look for the story pieces and try to adhere to the most prominent element and weave the scenes, plot, and characters around it.
Once you choose, nail it
It is related to point 1, choose a genre you like. If you write what you love, not what you think, it will naturally appeal to the readers.
Pick a genre you can make a long-term commitment to. Several best seller authors have done so, including Agatha Christie, George R.R. Martin, Dan Brown, E.L. James, and J.K. Rowling.
The Final Words
Whether you are planning to sell your book to a traditional publisher, or sell directly to your readers through self-publishing, genre draws a distinct line between success and obscurity.
The genre you choose should be one that comes most naturally to you. Nevertheless, the importance of experimentation cannot be undermined.
Keep trying even if your first book doesn’t hit the sweet spot. Perseverance, after all, is a great virtue.