What Genre am I?

by Tammy
(Upstate, New York)

Question: I read a lot and I read a lot of different genres. It is hard for me to start out writing regardless of how many good starters I feel I have or general ideas of the book overall because I don't know what direction to take it in as far as genre goes. How do you determine what genre you are as a writer? The only other option I had considered to determine this was to write a short story in almost every genre I could think of. The ones I got bored with were probably not the ones to write in.

I also find it very difficult to even find this topic out there on the internet anywhere. I can't be the only one that has this issue as a new writer.

Your thoughts?

Answer: The other option is to just write the story that interests or excites you the most and not worry about what genre it falls into until later, if at all.

A lot of great books transcend genre by either...

1. Combining tropes borrowed from more than one genre. Sometimes this leads to new subgenres being created (hence Steampunk or Historical Romance).

2. Making a deliberate twist on an existing genre. When this is done because the genre conventions have grown too stale and confining, it can revitalize the genre.

3. Infusing literary qualities into genre fiction. As art forms mature, they move towards greater sophistication. Looking over the past 60 years or so, we can see that comic books are a prime example of this. Science fiction, murder mysteries, and even Westerns have also become more literary and have tackled complex issues and themes they would have ignored in their formative years.

Of course, it is often easier to appeal to an existing readership by giving them what already know they want (hence, writing within an established genre), but being too formulaic and predictable can also make you boring.

If you have a great idea for a story, I'd say just write it. Who cares whether it's a mainstream contemporary story or a YA paranormal mystery romance set in Victorian London and riddled with advanced technology? Let the publisher worry about how to market it.

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