How to Choose Which Genre…

Choosing the Genre in Which to Write

Traci Kenworth


I’m going to divert from “How to Breathe Life into Your Characters” this week to discuss what genre you should think of putting your book in. There’s so many to choose from, and different shades of each. You have your Science Fiction-Fantasy that breaks up into “pure” strains of either Science Fiction or Fantasy. You have your Horror, Thrillers, Romance, and so on. So how do you decide?

Just as you had to figure out what character to begin with, this is your time to discover just “who” it is you’re writing to. The gentle reader, of course. But what age group? Yes, you have to break it down. There are no books from 5-100. So that means, you must choose between  pre-school, middle-grade, teen, and adult readers. All fun to write for, but only one selection can be pursued.

If you tried to write the 5-100, you wouldn’t be able to place the book. The agent wouldn’t know where to market it as well. So don’t be stubborn: let your characters speak. What voice do they use? Young or old? How youthful? I tried writing adult books(and who knows, someday maybe I will give it another shot), but my teenage characters keep reeling me in for their stories to be told. Not that I mind. They have some fascinating tales to tell.

For me, I remember not having much of a selection to read from in the YA market. Nowadays there are so many diverse slots for the books, it’s hard to know just where to go. That’s when you have to let the story point the direction. Is it paranormal? Chick-lit? Dystopian? Contemporary? On and on. I tend to write in the YA Supernatural Horror area. I have read a LOT of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J.N. Williamson, Ray Bradbury etc. That’s where the horror background comes in. It’s funny, I can’t take the hard-core horror movies or TV shows, but I can read them, and write them. The supernatural is just is part of the way I look at things. Add to that my young adult characters and I know what genre I’m supposed to write in.

I tried comedy, contemporary, the funny and light, nothing fit my voice until I decided to stop fighting it and realize “dark, haunting tales,” are just a part of me. Growing up, the Apocalypse aspect of things always waited just out of reach. I think we’ve come back to those times, those fears. So I write about them, hoping to dispel some anxiety of the reader. What would be the worst that could happen? Could we stop it? What if we couldn’t? All this goes into the material.

Why young adults(ages 13-18), you ask? Because I believe it’s one of the best genres out there. And not only the market ability. I believe young minds are on the cusp of opening to a whole new world of possibilities, that they want stories that challenge them, give them hope, make them dare to take that leap. I don’t write these stories to make them fear life. I want them to embrace it, and live every moment to the fullest.

So decide which shelf it is that you want to pull your book down from. Each genre has it rewards. It’s up to you to decide what means the most to you. Perhaps try experimenting with the different ones, and let that settle your mind on where to write. If you love seeing the hero and heroine explore their relationship, and want to focus on them, choose romance. Love fantastical worlds ala The Hobbit? Fantasy’s your option. Spaceships and star destroyers? Science Fiction. Monsters and good defeating evil? Horror. Or blend them. Not all, of course, but a good Fantasy-Horror book is just waiting to be written.

And remember to break them off into age brackets. Your reader will thank you for choosing to express yourself in a genre you’ll most likely come to love. All that’s left then, is to settle down, open the pages, and begin the story.

3 thoughts on “How to Choose Which Genre…

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