Writing Wednesday: Newbie Pitfalls: Not Knowing the Genre

Continuing on in the newbie pitfalls is one I haven’t fallen into, except that it prevents me from being able to tell certain stories. I have ideas for horror and science fiction, but very little knowledge of the genre in books. I know horror movies. I love a good haunted house story! I will watch sci-fi around the clock.

Movies aren’t books. Trying to write a book based on what has been seen in movies will go badly when it’s presented to fans of the genre.

Each genre is its own specialty. Every genre has its own language, style, and reader expectations of a story. Romance expects sweet, heart-warming moments with HEA. Erotica expects sensual descriptions throughout, not just in the “naughty” scenes. Sci-fi expects advanced tech with realistic names and a knowledge of science underneath. Fantasy needs a world and magic system that are consistent and make sense. I think you get the idea.

If I sat down with my sci-fi story idea, I would currently lack the background needed to describe three key elements in that world.

My horror story would lack the ability to make a reader’s hair stand on end. I might make them vaguely uncomfortable, but it’s meant to be scary!

I’ll still write those stories eventually. Before I do, I’ll be doing research. I’ve read enough sci-fi to know I need to understand space travel. With a generation ship, I’ll need to look into things we already know about risks of travel. I need to look more at what we know we’d need to colonize other worlds, too. I also need to read stacks of books similar to what I want to write.

Learning the genre also means learning what’s expected in recent releases. If you want to be a “big name” author, then read their books. Don’t imitate them, but learn from them. How do they start their books? Where do they put description? How do they break up dialogue?

I started reading fantasy in the 80’s. Let me tell you, if you haven’t read stories from that time, and then read stories recently published, you won’t understand the vast differences. I don’t think either is better, but there are shifts in style any author should be aware of. Be ready to present your work to the market of today, not the market of twenty years ago.Β 

I don’t think there’s a minimum or maximum number of books to read in a genre in order to be ready to write in it. I imagine reading from a few different authors would be more beneficial than just reading one, unless you’re after their specific audience. The most important part is just to read with the intent of learning, not just for leisure.

Then, when you put your story onto paper, it’ll be alive with every element your potential readers want to see, and that’s a big part of success as an author.

2 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: Newbie Pitfalls: Not Knowing the Genre

  1. Hi Kambry πŸ™‚

    What if I don’t (or someone doesn’t) want to be successful *as an author*, but rather simply be successful at being *me*?

    πŸ™‚ Norbert

    Like

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