I’m going to throw a situation out to you guys with the hopes that I can help you find a solution to it: You’re writing a book, maybe a page in, maybe a few chapters in, and you realize that you haven’t formally selected a genre. It may have been in the back of your head while writing, in which case, you’re probably fine. But if you’re writing a book that could somehow be considered a fantasy, romance, historical fiction, and satire all at once, you might have a problem. Read below to hear all the tips I can offer you guys on how to pick your genre!
WHAT GENRE(S) INTEREST YOU?
The first thing you should figure out when trying to pick your genre is what genres are of interest to you? Personally, I’m not particularly drawn to Western Fiction, so I’m probably not going to go with a plot that incorporates it as a first choice. But you never know, try not to box yourself in from trying new genres if you’re interested in branching out!
MINDMAP THE GENRE(S)
Take the genre (or genres) that interest you and start mind-mapping topics. I find it very helpful to make visual boards of what each genre could possibly cover. This can include themes, sub-genres, characters, pretty much anything that might appear in that genre. Free programs like Mind Meister are perfect for it!
FIGURE OUT YOUR PLOT AND STYLE
Go through your already existing writing and plots and try to piece together what might fit with what genre. Typically, YA novels have a bit more of a conversational and age appropriate tone when it comes to the narrative, because it portrays the life and thoughts of teenage characters. Adult gothic novels might be more formal, depending on the situations appearing in the story. If need be, feel free to shift your style a little after you pick your genre, but keep in mind that you don’t want to lose who you are in your writing. I’ll point this out later, but don’t completely rely on genre when it comes to the style of your writing.
Related: HOW TO WRITE INCREDIBLE PLOT TWISTS
RESEARCH BESTSELLERS IN THE GENRE(S)
As I talk about in the first point, if you have a genre you’re close to picking, it might be because you already enjoy or are interested in reading about that genre. If you’re more unfamiliar in the genre, but your storyline is perfect for it, you’ll want to research it a little more. For instance, I mostly like reading YA fiction, but a lot of the stories I’m interested in writing are New Adult (NA) fiction. I’m adding a few NA books to my reading list, just to get myself more well-rounded as I prepare to break into it and appeal to the age of readers it usually carries.
GET FEEDBACK FROM BETA READERS
If you have people (like beta readers, friends, family members, etc.) you trust enough to read your manuscript and you still haven’t selected an actual genre to plug your book into for publication, pick their brains. Ask them what genres pop out at them, and if they really enjoyed it, ask them what kind of books they normally like reading. Getting a “reading list” from your ideal reader can really help to shape the direction you want your writing to go, especially when it comes to selling your book.
DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO LABEL YOURSELF
This is a particularly taboo part of genres — some people don’t pick a genre at all. However, there’s a word of caution with this: if you don’t pick a genre from your book, you’ll have a much harder time getting it sold. If you’re looking at traditional publishing rather than self-publishing, it may not be picked up at all. So if you’re just writing for yourself, I would say you shouldn’t worry about putting a genre on it. It’s your writing, there’s no reason you should feel the need to label your writing if there’s no chance of you trying to sell it. But, if you are going to try and send it to publishers and agents, you need to figure out a genre ASAP.