Much of what I’ve read when it comes to choosing a genre is confusing. The reason it’s confusing? Motivation.
I’ve read articles that tell you not to limit yourself to a genre – you’ll stifle your writing. Some are references to other authors who have a multi-genre story where the novels they write are not defined by a type… and shouldn’t be. These blog posts have said things like,
“The easiest choice to make is not to choose at all. By choosing to stay open to writing in any genre you are free to pursue any idea that grabs you.”
Some articles are geared towards what the audience/publisher wants or how to get published. They say things like,
“Choosing the right genre makes it easier to get your book into the hands of readers who are likely to enjoy it the most.” and “Stay current with what’s showing up in the market.”
As for me personally, I write according to what I want to write. Similar to the former point above with one exception; I gear the idea towards a genre or let the genre guide the idea. I limit myself or have free reign. The only time I have an audience or publisher in mind, is if I’m entering a competition or given specifics about what to write.
How do I Choose a Genre?
There are two contributing factors that determine what kind of story I’m going to write. They are Emotion and Idea.
I’m a pretty emotional guy. Well maybe that’s the wrong way to put it… I am temperamental when it comes to my stories… uhhhh, okay I am affected by mood. Yes that’s it, I am affected by mood. How does that work? Well here are some examples.
- Genre: I can write a horror story at any time. It’s my default genre. The genre then guides the idea forward into a story where I flesh out the idea but always referring to the genre. Examples are:
- Horror: Scare the living daylights out of the reader. What are things I am afraid of? How do I set the mood to reflect fear? How do the characters deal with this fear?
- Sci-fi: Futuristic technology at its finest. What is something on the fringe of technological possibility that tells a great story? What setting best captures this world? How do the characters react to this world?
- Fantasy: Knights and Magic. What world suits this genre? What kind of characters can I expect? What epic adventure can the characters undertake to capture this genre?
However, depending on how I’m feeling, a genre can become multiple genres. This is how my emotions affect the genre:
- Horror Romance: When I feel happiness or joy I am able to write something light, but my love of horror twists it into a dark tale.
- Dark Fantasy: Excitement courses through my veins and I’m inspired by the idea of an adventure but horror twists it into something darker.
Like many creatives, I get sparks of ideas that start off with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” From there on the idea manifests itself into a genre. Examples are:
- What if Idea: There was a girl who found a coin…
- Horror: The coin belonged to a demonic being who slowly starts to possess her the longer she keeps it.
- Sci-fi: The coin has “3017” on it with the face of a robot. She’s then pulled into the future.
- Fantasy: The coin allows her to cast “magic” and she finds there are more people with these special coins.
- Romance: A boy runs up to her and says it’s his coin and they find a common ground on coins.
- Steampunk: The coin only works on a specific automaton that powers a steam-powered machine.
Sometimes emotion can affect the idea, but on most parts it plays a lesser role and I try to match my emotions/mood to the idea. Unless it sparks a beautiful new story from the idea…
Fundamental of Genre Writing
These are just some of the basic ways that I will come up with a story. For the next segments I will discuss how I brainstorm ideas when writing horror, and more in-depth. I will show the tips and tricks I use, the research sites and the whole process. With it, I will post a short story on Friday to show how I implemented it.
Looking forward to seeing you.
How do you come up with ideas for a story you’re writing? Do emotions play any role? Is genre important or the idea or both?
As a reader, have you ever wondered how an author came up with an idea? Do you only read certain genres or read specific authors because they focus on your favourite genre?
I’d love to know.