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G - Know Your Genre

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Welcome to Week G of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing.

If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing.

This week it's time to take a closer look at Genre

When we talk about fiction, we automatically think of the story in terms of genre. So, if someone were to ask you what is your book about, your first response would be to define it in terms of its genre - such as romance, thriller, mystery, comedy, drama, horror, etc. It's a quick and easy way of classifying the kind of fiction your book falls into -- and thus helps in its marketing.

But genre is much more than a system of categorising your novel. It signifies to the reader the artistic style of your story and feeds into his/her expectations of the book. As a writer you need to understand the conventions of the genre that you are writing in, so as to not disappoint your readers. For instance, if your book's genre is romance but reads more like science-fiction then you will have a lot of dissatisfied readers who bought the book expecting to read about a couple falling in love rather than one about inter-galactic warfare! Sure you can have a romance with a sub-genre of sci-fi or vice-versa as long as this is made clear to the reader.

Genre has an impact on the structure of your story, the kind of characters you develop, the plot elements, resolution and finale. What's more, it even impacts the dialogues, tone, settings and the ambience of the world in which the story is set. An edgy thriller like Gone Girl is dark as against a light, feel-good romantic comedy like Confessions of a Shopaholic. The two novels (and films) are as different as chalk from cheese in practically every element of their writing.

Consider this, if you were expecting to watch a murder mystery or crime movie, you are going to be one unhappy viewer if you found that a crime/murder doesn't happen within a reasonable period of the viewing time. This also means that the pace of the story and its narrative style is largely dictated by its genre.

Interestingly, the same story can be told in two different genres and the narrative would be totally different. Here is an example:

Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley was made into a movie twice, once in 1962 with the title Purple Noon  (Plein Soleil) and the second time in 2000 as The Talented Mr. Ripley. In the first adaptation, the movie was presented as a thriller whereas the Anthony Minghella-directed The Talented Mr. Ripley was a melodrama. 

As reading preferences increase a reader has a variety of genres to choose from. And even within a particular genre, there are many sub-genres. Romance novels can be categorised as romantic drama, romantic comedy, romantic suspense and then there's women's fiction where relationships and family are the main focus but it could have some romance in it as well. Or as was earlier mentioned, romance with sci-fi. 

So, if you decide to go with a genre first make sure to find out what are the conventions of the genre before you put pen to paper.

Do share your thoughts about genre in the comments below. And don't forget to check out the other topics in G:

Google Play for Self Publishing Authors by Reet Singh

G is for Goals by Sudesna Ghosh

Grammar and Writing Style Software by Preethi Venugopala




Comments

  1. How simple yet fascinating you make it sound.
    Knowing what genre one enjoys reading is critically important - if one likes action thrillers but picks up a romance, or vice versa, one might end up giving a poor review because one's expectations were not met!
    Not nice for the author of the romance, not at all...

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    Replies
    1. That's so true, Reet. I do feel that apart from the tone and style of the book, the cover should also make it amply clear as to what kind of content is inside. Thanks for reading. :)

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