So I did, in fact, win NaNoWriMo on Saturday night with 50k words! Even though I still have to finish #AfterworldStory3 to reach my own personal NaNoGoal, I'm taking this week off, as is my tradition. I'll be getting back on board with the real writing again today.
I want to talk about choosing a genre to write, because a lot of aspiring writers struggle with this. Personally, I knew from the get-go that fantasy was going to be my genre because it's my favorite genre to read, closely followed by science fiction, which is my other main area of writing.
That leads me to my first piece of advice: choose a genre you love to read. It will be more natural to you! You love the genre already, and you know the ins and outs of it, which will help you when it comes to publishing because you'll be aware of the market.
It's also important that the idea comes first. If you've got a good story idea, it will naturally fall into a genre of some kind. Most of my ideas are in the fantasy realm, with some moving into the grey area of speculative fiction and others further into science fiction. It's rare that I sit down and actually say, "I want to write a YA fantasy novel." Rather, the idea appears, it fits a genre, and I write it as such.
Another thing to remember is that, if you slip out of your ideal area, you're likely to feel it. It's important to challenge yourself, of course, but most writers have a general area that they write the best in and therefore remain within. When you push past your own area, there will be a sense that something's off. You'll likely struggle to come up with the proper plot points, and even if you're fine while writing, afterwards you'll look at it and you'll see that it's not right.
For me, the most spectacular example of this was when I tried to write contemporary realistic fiction back in middle school. I finished the novel, but it was really, really bad. Personally, I need the magic and metaphor and grand potential of fantasy and sci-fi. You strip away all of the speculation, and suddenly my words fall flat. It makes sense; I write fantasy because that's actually how I see the world. Maybe that's how it'll work for you too: try to write in a genre that reflects the way you think.
With those tips in mind, here's a general guide to genres and sub-genres. This should give you a better idea of what's up! As you'll see, there's a lot of overlap. You can mix and match the terms if it better describes your book, although you shouldn't use more than a couple when you're pitching to literary agents and editors.
I hope this helps you! Don't forget, when you pitch your book, to include both your category and genre in your description! (For more information about categories, look at the definitions in this post.) Good luck on your genre choices, and thanks for reading!
What's your favorite genre to read? What category and genre do you write?
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Images via rlfantasy on Flickr, alan9183 and denisdenasimeon on Pixabay, pickpik.com, theguardian.com, nullvalue on Flickr, ncdc.noaa.gov, Marina Shemesh on publicdomainpictures.net, and goodfreephotos.com.
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