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Choosing a Genre for Your Novel

So you have made the brave choice of writing a novel. The next thing to decide is the kind of novel you want to write. This decision needs to be made early on in the writing process. It defines the success of the next 6-18 months of writing and determines who gets to enjoy the end product. To make this decision, you need to understand the core of your story idea.

What is your story idea all about?
Carefully consider the story you intend to narrate and identify its essential element. At its core, what's the story you're trying to tell? Is it about the main character discovering themselves, a heroic character saving their community, or a series of events that demonstrates the current ills in society? Whatever direction your novel takes, the story is responsible for moving your reader forward, keeping them hooked, and ultimately making them feel something about themselves. That’s the foundation upon which every bestseller stands: the ability to evoke emotion in a reader. That's why your story needs to be as compelling as possible. 

Examining the essence of your story idea helps you deeply understand your story and equips you to narrate it effectively. Once you know the fundamentals of the type of story you want to tell, you can decide how to wrap it up and present it. This is where the genre comes in.

What is your story's genre?
Deciding the genre of your work is much more than choosing which section of the bookshop you want your book to stay in. It determines the nature and feel of your story, your style, and your themes. It also determines the type of readers that will become your fans in your career as a writer. It helps you decide how and to whom to market your book. 

Most writers already know the genre they want for their works. But if you're undecided and open to suggestions, know that there are a large variety of genres to choose from. Consider these three factors in making your choice:

1. Which genre would allow you to tell your story at its best? For example, would criminal investigation and facts about law enforcement help you tell your story? Maybe consider writing crime or legal thrillers. Are you into personality analysis and mental health? Consider writing a psychological thriller. 

2. In which genre do you feel confident writing? Most genres have some stylistic elements associated with them. For example, present tense and first-person POV is common in YA. It is best to choose a genre you're conversant with: one that you love to read and are passionate about.

3. Do you wish to be a commercial writer, or are you just writing for fun? Some genres are more popular with the potential for commercial success than others. So, though you can choose to write in any genre, consider the financial implications if you intend to earn a living as a writer. But if you're doing it as a hobby that you enjoy, you can do as you please. 

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen