Welcome back to my 30-day series on preparing for NaNoWriMo. So far, we’ve tackled what NaNoWriMo is, and how to set realistic writing goals. Today, let’s delve into choosing the right genre for your novel.
Why is genre important? It sets the stage for your story, guiding elements like plot and character development. It also helps manage reader expectations. When someone picks up a mystery novel, they’re expecting intrigue; if they’re reading romance, they’re looking for love. So, knowing your genre gives you a roadmap for the story you’re about to tell. There’s a wide array of genres to consider, each with its own conventions. Familiarizing yourself with these conventions is crucial because it will help you understand what readers expect from a book in your chosen genre. For example–
- Mystery/Thriller: Red herrings, clues, suspenseful pacing, and an unexpected twist. Usually involves a detective or investigator.
- Romance: Focus on romantic relationship, emotional depth, a barrier to the relationship, and usually a happily-ever-after (or at least happily-for-now) ending.
- Science Fiction: Futuristic settings, advanced technology, space exploration, time travel, or other scientific concepts. Often explores ethical or philosophical questions.
You can, of course, include whatever you’d like in your novel, and mash-up the genres. But the key element has to be there for it to work in that genre and make a satisfying read. A romance with no relationships is… not a romance. A sci-fi without some sort of speculative element is very, very boring. Y’know?
Several factors come into play when choosing a genre. Think about what you love to read and write. Passion for a genre will get you through the difficult days of writing. I say this so often, but “write what you want to read” is not just a cliché. It’s really true. If you love reading romance, and have read 1000s of them, and are dreaming of a perfect romantic couple, maybe… don’t make your first novel attempt a noir crime thriller set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo? Like, write what you know (okay – that one is a seriously misunderstood phrase that could have its own blog post). Also, consider your own skills. If you love comedy – choose something that allows you to really shine.
But what if you’re not sure, or want to try something different? That’s fine! NaNoWriMo is a great time to experiment. If you’re torn between two genres, perhaps consider a hybrid. Mixing genres can result in exciting, original stories. However, you’ll need to satisfy the conventions of both, so make sure you do your research. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but also consider what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at.