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Choosing Your Writing Genre - The Writer's Inclinations Exposed

Updated on January 29, 2013

Choosing Your Writing Genre

Your Signature Writing Genre

Writers are inclined toward a specific genre. Some writers prefer non-fiction, while others choose fiction. Then, there are the individual genres like historical fiction, suspense, sci-fi and others. Choosing your writing genre depends entirely on you, the writer. It takes a bit of digging into your writing nature to discover which genre suits your writing skills best. It is important to make this choice in order for your work to be defined by publishers of your books and your readers.

Your Genre Comes From Deep Within Your Literary Well

From the imaginative minds of writers, come a wealth of creative ideas that form their first venture into writing. Take note of the specifics of your plot, characters, time line and dialogue. It will be a clue to defining the genre upon which you may choose to base your writing career. Writers are not limited to the walls a genre can create. Many of our most prolific writers begin with sci-fi and go on to write whole epic dramas complete with pathos and passion.

How Does Your Genre Choice Affect Your Literary Reputation?

Those of us who choose fiction know we are small fish in a huge ocean of writers. Nearly all of the "How to" tomes written to aid writers in getting published offer the same advice: "Write to your readers." and "Write what you know." Your choice of genre should be an extension of your personality. This is how you develop your literary reputation. If you are a quirky person who always upstages others without trying, your genre might be well suited to the imaginative world of the genre of sci-fi. If you are the dark, introverted Goth type personality, your genre might kindle a flame in suspense or thrillers. For the no-nonsense, profusely articulate types, non-fiction biographies can lure you to this particular genre. Enhance your personality traits through your writing skills so that your readers question who you are. Enough to want to know more about you, the author of books that keep them spellbound from one novel to the next. This is one way to build your literary reputation through your chosen genre.

Once Chosen, Twice Published

Market yourself as an author and your novels in the framework of your chosen genre. If you are tempted to make a switch, delay this until you are published more than twice. Your first two novels will create our literary persona soon enough. Adding multiple genres can confuse your readers and might scatter your literary reputation among publishers and editors. If an editor is looking for a tightly written suspense novel, they will want to make the author in that genre. This is true for traditional publishing as well as e-book publishing.


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    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 4 weeks ago from London England

      Agatha Christie; Queen of crime.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 5 weeks ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Ian, It appears that the younger generation opts for fixing everything that isn't broken even in literature. Yet, what suffers most is quality.

      I can almost guarantee that the new movie version of Agatha Christie's famed "Murder on the Orient Express" will be too sexually in your face and there will be blood, guts and gore that only Brits know how to deal with most delicately in murder mysteries.

      I'm a HUGE fan of "Midsummer Murders" starring John Nettles and more recently, I discovered the "Father Brown" Mysteries.

      I've always always loved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" and still watch the old black and white version on Sunday mornings with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Even though I've seen these before, they never fail to grab my attention. The books of course are a treasure trove of true literary talent.

      I love that these producers and directors do what American producers and directors can't: Present exciting mysteries without offending the sense or violating our need for civility.

      I let my characters "do all the talking. " I find they know better than I the direction of the plot.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 5 weeks ago from London England

      I harken back to the times when life was simpler and we only had to work for self - sufficiency, not producing disposable items supposedly to make life easier. Having said that, it is important that the characters, fictional or real project a strong image to set an unforgetable scenario.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 14 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Yes. That house in Psycho is an icon. The houses in my suspense novels are house I've actually lived near. They are the inspiration for the plots. As with all fiction novels, I changed the names of the towns. The "House" in Barrow House belonged a fairly wealthy upper class family here in Central NJ. The "House" at the End of Langdon road was not actually at the end of a rural part of a Central NJ road. Just a house that was too too tiny for the property upon which is stood and the number of people in it, one of whom became the main character.

      The third unpublished novel's "House" is actually one in the town where I live. It's one of those McMansions of the young, upwardly mobile but has the oddest location for the upper middle class who reside in it. It's also kind of "gadgety" in a peculiar way. Hence, my choice for the third novel.

      When I find houses in my travels that seem to have a "voice" of their own and incorporate characters who live in them, it becomes a fascination to see house and people meld into one plot.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 14 months ago from London England

      I've been in that old house still standing at the Universal studio backlot, which was used in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. I also think that (although not my writing genre) the address T.V. comedy family The Munsters is witty-1313 Mokingbird Lane.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 14 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Limpet, Question, My genre is suspense. Like you I have an affinity for the paranormal. My plot focus is usually on houses. My first published novel, Barrow House, took place in New England at the time of the 1929 stock market crash. The plot focused on how the house influenced the characters. My second published novel, "The House at the End of Langdon Road," was set in the same New England town but in a post WWII time frame.

      I'm still shopping my third novel, "The Hanging House on Partridge Lane."

      I find writing that these houses appear normal from the outside but are anything but normal on the inside creates the link between plot and characters.

      I've completed two other novels, one based on a true life murder and the other is a historical fiction based on Gypsies in the 1600s.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 14 months ago from London England

      Greetings my little Darklings!

      Writing genre for me now is Goth, steampunk or the paranormal. I know of places where you would not like to 'spend the night'. Only gentle folk need enter my realms.

      sweet dreams

      the limpet.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 15 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Limpet, Similar to when Southerners here in the U.S. try to fake a Noo Yawk accent. lol.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 15 months ago from London England

      OH! On Poldark which is set in Cornwall, the Cornish people have their own unique accent (even a little used Gaelic dialect as well). Sadly none of the actors in Poldark spoke with a Cornish accent. Probably not important to viewers abroad but laughable to us.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 15 months ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Limpet, I love those kinds of stories. Sometimes, we authors write what we know and overlook those details we write others find immensely interesting. Kind of like what the author of "Poldark" did.

      Good luck with your writing project. It's about time we had some stories that don't drag us into a morass of doom and gloom.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 15 months ago from London England

      I'm in the process of compiling a manuscript not to publish but to leave behind undiscovered hoping that it's found for future generations to gain insight into 20th century life styles. I base my characters on those i've known or those i admire. This manuscript will be centered around a middle class family consisting of the two parents, a son and daughter and a baby. There will be no cataclysms resulting in a dystopic landscape but it will be in a rural setting with ideal characters.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 2 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Wow...that's one I didn't know about Agatha Christie. If that isn't a tribute to the kind of top quality writing, I can't imagine what more we'd need for an example.

      I always loved how she was able to re-use characters in her mysteries like Miss Marple and Poirot.

      With so much commercialization and word police in writing today, it's difficult to find the kind of unusual talent Agatha Christie had.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      Well Agatha Christie's play 'The mousetrap' holds an all time record for London stage performances, a long standing 64 years in fact! Initially at the Victoria Palace theatre before coming to the west end currently at St Martins in the fields. When i was at school and the history teacher spoke of Mesopotamia we were told Agatha Christie wrote Murder in Mesopotamia whilst an English teacher told us how in an A.C. mystery the corpse was disposed of stitched into an 'ottoman' round couch. I did however see the film adaptation of Agatha Christie's disappearance but will have to look up more about it. Sounds intriguing.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 2 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Limpet, If I had to choose a favorite author whose writing skills always impressed me, I'd have to sat it is Agatha Christie. She remains the No. 1 mystery writing icon from whom many "versions" of her suspense novels have been "borrowed."

      The joy and love of writing comes from the deepest well of creativity within each inspired writer.

      I am most impressed by sci-fi writers. I had no idea how deep their creativity goes. Their genre, in and of itself, requires intense concentration on characters that they must "imagine" from other world's.

      Many of us write with a "human" character in mind. Trying to write fictional sci-fi characters has to be incredibly difficult. Or, so it seems, to me.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      I once asked an author who was her favourite author and she replied Ursula Le Guin whose novels, a couple of i read and was impressed.

      Just to veer away from my escapism of folklore mixed with supernatural a new concept came to me. The planet has wobbled off it's axis and reversed polarity causing a cataclysm so immence that only a few tribal communes in remote areas survive. Also surviving are individuals in 'fall out' shelters, submarines and space shuttles. They happen to link up and rebuild civilization for the better this time. But complications set. More to follow!

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 2 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Limpet, Sometimes, what I do is leave the "scribbles" and then, go back to them by dissecting various parts.

      For example, I started to write a non-fiction (my genre is suspense fiction). It was the story of an unsolved murder in my state that has haunted many since it occurred in 1966. I started to write it and discovered I am just don't have what it takes to "get into" a murderer's mind.

      So, I left if for about 6 years. I returned to it and realized there were at least two possible fiction stories contained in the scribbles. One is now a finished manuscript and the second is a work in progress.

      I keep a small notebook handy to scribble ideas as I come across them. Sometimes, these are just a few words that spawn a lot of short stories.

      Don't forget that scraps of characters and plot often make great short stories.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      Today I decided to put 'pen to paper' but unfortunately suffered 'writer's block' so I scribbled some n0nsence in any case and will go back to it adding some description and embellishing the characters.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 2 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Well, you certainly do have a posting style that is quite unique. My only bout with Scottish verbiage is Robert Burns. I have read "Mad Mary Lamb" and found it to be quite interesting a bio on this particular author.

      I love the idea that Olde English is alive and well. All of these older works should not be forgotten.

    • profile image

      Gadfly 2 years ago from Olde London Towne

      Gadfly here. Am very interested in following up on 'The cloister and the Hearth' as i know what those two words mean. Olde English not a problem for me. In high school they made us study Chaucer's Canterbury tales as well as 'that Scottish play' by Shakespeare. Sounds goode to me!

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 2 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Lantokey, Have you ever read the "The Cloister and the Hearth" by Sir Charles Reade? It's one of the most difficult "olde English" literary works from the Everyman's Library. It has an introduction by Algernon Charles Swinburne.

      It's pretty hard to come by in the US. I found mine in a pile of books at an estate sale of a professor in Princeton NJ.

      Here's an excerpt for you: "And I had a mind to see whether it was "like maid like master:" for there is sooth in bywords."

    • profile image

      Gadfly 2 years ago from Olde London Towne

      Greetings my little Darklings!

      My style is divided into two genres namely the fictional and the phantasy.

      The fictional realm is 'modern tymes' or at least a tyme warp of the 1950's /1960's set in Metroland a 'state of mind' just to the north west of olde London towne. Here everyday life is conducive to perfection, precision and passion. Crime is unknown therefor no police forces. The populace of Metroland and it's hinterland do however have to contend with malevolent entities but are more than well prepared for that! In my phantasy realm of Elfhame this is where the imagination runs wild and you never know what to expect.

      sweet dreams

      the gadfly

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 3 years ago from London England

      High on a hilltop the olde kinsman sits

      so olde and grey he has lost all his wits

      On a bridge of white mist Columbkill he crosses

      on his lonely journey from Slieveleague to Rosses

      ongoing with music and cold starry nights

      to sup with the Queene in the Northern lights

      I am not the Queene of Heaven the name does not belong to me

      I am But the Queene of Elfhame come hunt in my Folly

      Tenth century Scottish Bard wrote this

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 3 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Hi again Limpet, I'm wondering...With your special talent, have you written any of those poetic odes? I was always inspired by John Greenleaf Whittier's talent with this type of writing. I tried to write a chivalrous ode. It's still a work in progress. I find it very difficult to write a complete book in poetic rhyme.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 3 years ago from London England

      The cauldron of souls; my next 'earth shattering masterpiece'

      What is about to unfold is so bizarre!

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 3 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      limpet...Wow...Gothic..I love it! I wrote a fiction article online for another site about the Bog Woman (Yidi Girl). The research drew me closer to the dark Gothic era. It's long past time for a writer to bring this particular point in time into the present. Thank you for your comment. Much appreciated.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 3 years ago from London England

      my interpetation of this genre; a curious

      amalgam of horror and romance mixed

      with the supernatural but NEVER pertaining

      to the mundane

      limpet the slave of Goode Queene Aline

      of the Gothic Fae

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 4 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Sorry to be so long in responding..I've been editing my third book I hope will be published in the fall. I certainly agree about non-fiction. It appears as I get more deeply into it that non-fiction today sells with traditional publishers only if the subject of the fiction has already been vetted in the public eye.

    • Ewent profile image
      Author

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 4 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      Congratulations! And thank you for your comment. I love hearing from fellow writers. I've ghost written nearly 3,000 articles for online blogs, businesses and press releases. It is important to get an edge in copywriting by studying the basics. You're on target with blogging and fiction. One tip, if I may? Within fiction writing, choose a schtick that draws readers. Look deep within and find the one subject that most fascinates you. Work that in to your sub genre and align it to your name in a way that makes readers remember you, the author, and your fiction novels.

      I chose "houses" because architecture and people who live in houses of any kind fascinate me. My first published novel was "Barrow House." Memories of passing by a Victorian home in a nearby town sparked an idea for a story. The more I recalled this house in memory, the more the characters popped out. My second published novel is "The House at the End of Langdon Road." Note the inclusion of the word "House" in both titles. The "house" in the second book was one near my own home and always looked as if the tiny home couldn't possibly house the 9 people living inside. The small beach bungalow type house always seemed as if it would be swallowed up by the five acres around it. Lots of character incentive there.

      My third work in progress is called "The Hanging House on Partridge Lane." By using the word "House" in the titles, readers who love suspense fiction can find it even if they forget the author's name. I'm dallying at the moment with a non-fiction also about "houses."

    • BecomingWriter profile image

      Angela Greenfield 4 years ago from Nebraska

      There is so much truth in this article. I began a fiction writing hobby this winter, and I thought that I'd also adore writing non-fiction. I am going to study copywriting soon, but even the online freelance markets are difficult to break into. Right now, I am concentrating on fiction and blogging.