Writing: How To Choose A Genre

Finding the right subjects or genre is entirely dependent upon your perspective as to what you see through the lens of your mind. Whether in real life experiences or a fantasy world you’ve been creating for years.

Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” — Ayn Rand

What is a genre? A genre is a specific type of music, film, or writing. There are five major genres of literature. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Play and Folk Tale. When you are browsing in a book store, you will find books are usually arranged by genre.

A subgenre is a category or grouping of similar storytelling that share certain specific stylistic elements. Could be further defined as a sub-category within a particular genre or category.

Picking a genre first helps establishes the central question and helps in the selection of conflicts that drive your story. If you have mixed genres it helps with precedence. Selecting a genre also helps with your pitch selection as well as your audience and marketing strategies.

My determination from the onset was of the non-fictional Christian genre. That is who I am—this is my element. However there are other partial manuscripts lying around that could be real life stories told from a fictional perspective or extreme embellishment. One thing I found that helped me was reading books in that particular genre. As you read so many of a specific genre you will begin understanding the concept of how it is developed.

You may even want to start out by writing essays or short stories. That is what I used to do in college.  I used to have nightmares about those four and five hundred word essays. But they really helped because anything I write now is well over those word counts.

You may have experiences in many facets of life. However, you have to choose the one that is your heartbeat. That heartbeat is where you will find clarity in a river flowing from a basin of ideas. Which will print endless inspirations onto the camera film of your thoughts?

My first book, Time Out: Poetic Reflections was a book of Spiritual poems I pulled from a collection of writings over fifteen years old. To say it was my best work is opened to opinion as is all writing. However, those poems came from my heartbeat in a time when observing life was the first indicator writing would always be somewhere in the background of my reality.

Observing life is another way of discovering your genre. You never know what might catch your eye that lends you an idea. There are so many ways to develop those moments. You can exploit those moments or expand upon them.  For example: You see a thousand dollar money wrapper blowing in the wind. You ask yourself where it came from.  Did someone lose it in a hurry and if so why?  You come up with answers from your imagination and write them down. It could be a suspense or perhaps even a murder. There lies the basis for your genre.

I like collecting art. Boy I could really come up with some stories about that artwork. The stories could be fantasy, science fiction, mystery or adventure. I might see it as fantasy whereas you might see it as a mystery. Again, it is all from your perspective.

Finally, there is always family. You could chronicle your family’s ancestry in a creative way hooking the reader. Or you could write about a family member who did something special in their life.

In its opulence, our writings are a culmination of what we see through the camera lens of our minds and where a snapshot of our passions exist in a specific moment of time. There are so many endless possibilities. All you have to do is look for them. Who knows, after you’ve mastered the one you may want to venture into others. There are many famous and successful authors who write in more than one genre. Here are just a few:

  • Emma Donoghue, author of the bestselling fiction novel, Room, also creates fun children’s stories, mesmerizing short stories and intriguing historical fiction.
  • Neil Gaiman, known for his writings in the dark fantasy genre with books like American Gods and Coraline.  Has also mastered the art of comic books, graphic novels, audio theater plays, children’s books, short fiction, and even poetry. Whether you prefer an ethereal adult book like The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a children’s story like Chu’s Day, or even a sweet poem like “Blueberry Girl,”  You will find Gaiman an author for all seasons(genre).
  • The legendary Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, better known for children’s fiction made a shaky leap to adult novels. Her book, The Casual Vacancy didn’t receive rave reviews; they were mixed but mostly positive. The book went on to become a BBC miniseries. Rowling still writes magical children’s books, plays and movies as well as the successful Cormoran Strike series under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

You may have to muddle through your time clock of emotions to figure it out. But trust me; you will know when you have found the key. For it will unlock a place in your mind and the veins of your heart you never knew existed. Then as you start putting one word in front of another you will have a more resolute focus on your direction.

So do not be easily swayed by the level of your successes or failures. Because your present environment is not the determining factor as to the outcome of your works. It may just be the catalyst to get you where you need to be. You’re just not there yet because it’s not your time. A thought out of timing is merely a dream blowing in the wind.

 “Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” —J.K. Rowlings

Always remember your failure is not in trying. Your failure is when you stop trying. So take the thought of failure and place it on a shelf in your darkroom of discouragement. Catalogue it under overexposed film in an object lesson can. As you keep focusing your lenses on new panoramas of ideas that are important to you. The more you use this approach the closer you come to the NOW (Newer Objective Wisdom) on knowing what to write.

This week’s challenge is to select a genre after you’ve formulated your jot of an idea.

If you have any ideas or questions please feel free to leave in the comment section below. Thanks for your readership and continued support.

© Rhema International. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author and/or owner, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rhema International.

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