To say there are a variety of genres in the book world would be a serious understatement. With millions of books in hundreds of genres, it would seem like everything has been written in some way, right?
No story is the same, even if it’s a similar plot, similar characters, or similar setting. And whatever story you need to tell is just that: your story.
Which can be a bit intimidating can’t it? Your story picked out of millions of others by your readers. What if they don’t like it? What if they do? What if they think it’s cliche? What if it’s too original?
But that’s one of the beautiful things about genres: your story’s genre picks out your readers and their expectations before you even share your story with them.
Sometimes these expectations can be a bit frightening, but they can also be incredibly helpful too. When a reader of say, fantasy, picks a fantasy book off the shelf, they know they’re probably going to get a fantastical world, magic, perhaps a fairytale retelling.
They know what to expect, they know what they want to experience in a story. That’s why someone looking for a fantasy story won’t go walking down the poetry aisle.
Knowing your genre also creates some guidelines for you…you know what the “rules” of each genre are and this gives you a bit of a buffer if you’re feeling lost or aimless while writing your story. Knowing your genre can help you focus in on your story and its purpose.
And once you know the rules, you can break them as much as you want.
Some stories lend themselves to a particular genre from the get-go. Other’s are a bit more ambiguous. Today, we’re diving into three tips to help you choose your story’s theme when your story is a bit vague about where it should be categorized.
Decide the Factors Working Against Your Main Character
Is it science? Magic? An ex-boyfriend? A prophecy? A summer tornado? Your main character’s villain may well be a large influencer in which genre you end up writing your story to. When you’re brainstorming characters, if your villain is a witch, then you probably sat yourself squarely in the fantasy genre. If the villain is a rogue cyborg, then hello sci-fi!
How Do People Get Shit Done
How do people get things done in your story? Do they use magic? Robots? Mind control? Physical labor? Slave labor? Physical labor lands you pleasantly in the literature or general fiction genres while slave labor could signal historical fiction, fantasy, or sci-fi, to name a few. Think about the day-to-day lives of your characters and the people in your story’s world. This is a good indicator of your genre too.
Create Two Mind Maps
First, create a mindmap of your favorite genres, or the overarching genre you think your story could belong to. Then break it down into smaller chunks. Do a bit of research online on the different sub-genres of each major genre. Pull out the ones that seem to resonate the most with your story.
Secondly, create a mindmap of the main plot points, characters, settings, and details of your story. Use this map and the first map to help you pinpoint your story’s genre.
Tell me in the comments how you determine your story’s genre. Does it come easily to you or do you have to do a bit of searching to find it?