How to Choose Which Genre to Write – 7 Top Tips

Posted on Oct 16, 2023

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Starting on a writing journey is exhilarating, but one of the fundamental decisions an aspiring author must make is selecting the genre they will dive into. 

The sheer number of genres in literature is enough to make even a veteran wordsmith unsteady on their feet and each of them offers a unique charm and their own appeal.

From the heart pounding suspense of thrillers to the magical realms of fantasy and from the intricate puzzles of mysteries to the poignant tales of romance, there is a genre for every writer’s voice and every reader’s longing. 

However, this abundance can pose a dilemma. How does one navigate this sea of choices and pinpoint the genre that resonates with their creative voice? 

This article will explore the art and science of choosing the right genre to write. We will take a look at the factors to consider, the questions to ask yourself and the pathways to finding that one genre where you will be most likely to find your feet and success. 

Whether you are a seasoned writer looking for a new creative avenue or a beginner taking the first step into the literary world, understanding how to select the right genre for you is key.

This article on how to choose which genre to write contains:

  1. Personal interests and passions
  2. Knowledge of genre conventions
  3. Audience understanding
  4. Research and reading
  5. Experimentation and flexibility
  6. Market demand and trends
  7. Writing skills and strengths

Personal interests and passions

One of the foundational elements in choosing a genre to write is identifying your personal interests and passions. Your genuine enthusiasm for a genre is the cornerstone of a fulfilling writing journey.

Reflect on the types of stories that have captivated you as a reader or engaged you as a viewer in movies or TV shows. Whether it is the adrenaline fueled narratives of action and adventure, the enigmatic plots of mysteries, the fantastical worlds of science fiction or the emotional stories of romance, pinpoint what truly resonates with you.

When you are deeply passionate about a genre, it is not just about the act of writing; it is about the joy and satisfaction derived from immersing yourself in that specific narrative world.

Your passion will ensure that your writing has authenticity and sincerity, creating a connection with your readers who share the same love for that genre.

Ultimately, writing in a genre you are passionate about ensures a more compelling and genuine storytelling experience.

Knowledge of genre conventions

Understanding the conventions of various genres is crucial when contemplating which one to write. Each genre has its own set of established norms governing plot structures, character arcs, themes and writing styles. You may have also heard this called genre expectations.

For instance, mysteries typically involve a puzzle or crime to be solved, often by a detective figure, while romance novels center around the development of a romantic relationship.

Familiarizing yourself with these conventions equips you with essential tools to write a story that aligns with reader expectations within a given genre.

It allows you to employ effective storytelling techniques specific to that genre, ensuring your work is recognizable and appealing to its intended audience.

Additionally, knowing these conventions gives you the creative framework to play with and innovate upon, potentially subverting expectations or introducing fresh elements while respecting the essence of the genre.

This knowledge serves as a solid foundation upon which you can build a compelling narrative within your chosen genre.

Audience understanding

Understanding the target audience associated with each genre is a vital aspect of genre selection. Different genres cater to distinct demographics and preferences.

For example, young adult fiction often focuses on coming of age themes and teenage experiences, resonating with adolescents and young adults. On the other hand, literary fiction might appeal to a more mature and contemplative audience, as it explores complex human emotions and societal issues.

Considering the demographics and preferences of your intended audience is essential for effective storytelling. Your chosen genre should align with the age group, interests and sensibilities of your target readers.

Knowing your audience enables you to tailor your narrative, language and themes to suit their expectations, ensuring your work engages and resonates with them on a meaningful level.

Writing with your audience in mind ensures that your story will find its niche and be appreciated by those who are most likely to connect with the themes and style of your chosen genre.

Research and reading

A crucial step in choosing a genre to write is immersing yourself in extensive reading and research across various literary genres. By doing so, you will gain invaluable insights into different storytelling techniques, writing styles and thematic elements specific to each genre.

Diversify your reading list to encompass classic and contemporary works, embracing a wide spectrum of genres.

Through reading, you not only explore the nuances of storytelling but also identify what resonates with you on a personal and creative level. Take note of the genres that captivate you, stir your imagination or inspire you to tell your own tales. 

Additionally, diving into research about the history and evolution of different genres can deepen your appreciation and understanding of their unique characteristics.

In essence, research and reading will help guide you toward the genre that aligns with your creative vision and narrative goals. 

It allows you to discover where your writing voice finds its most natural and powerful expression.

Experimentation and flexibility

An essential aspect of selecting a genre to write is the willingness to experiment and be flexible with your storytelling. The writing journey is often a process of self discovery and this includes discovering which genre truly ignites your passion and creativity. 

Don’t confine yourself to preconceived notions; be open to exploring various genres and styles.

Experimentation allows you to stretch your creative boundaries, try out new themes and dabble in different narrative techniques. 

Writing outside your comfort zone can uncover unexpected strengths and preferences. Perhaps you have always believed you were drawn to mystery, but as you experiment with fantasy, you find a deep connection with worldbuilding and magical elements.

Plus, flexibility in genre choice is a sign of a versatile writer. Being adaptable and willing to write in multiple genres showcases your skill and adaptability, making you a more marketable and resilient author.

Embrace the journey of experimentation and stay flexible in your genre choices, for it’s often through this exploration that you’ll find where your writing truly flourishes.

Market demand and trends

Understanding market trends and demand can be a pragmatic factor in choosing a genre to write. The literary market is influenced by readers’ evolving preferences, cultural shifts and contemporary events. 

Assessing what genres are currently in demand or gaining popularity can help you make a strategic decision.

Consider genres that are thriving or undergoing a renaissance, but also be mindful of the cyclical nature of trends. Some genres may experience resurgences, becoming highly sought after again after a period of less prominence. 

Pay attention to bestsellers, book club selections and recommendations from literary influencers. Engage with online communities, writing forums and social media discussions to gauge reader interests.

However, while market trends are important, they shouldn’t overshadow your passion and authenticity as a writer. 

The best approach is often finding a balance between what’s popular and what aligns with your own creative vision. 

Writing in a genre you are genuinely passionate about while considering market trends can position your work for success within the current literary landscape.

Writing skills and strengths

Seeking advice and insights from fellow writers and professionals within the literary space can provide invaluable guidance when selecting a genre. 

Engage in writing workshops, attend conferences or join writing groups where you can interact with experienced authors and aspiring writers alike. 

Their diverse perspectives and experiences can shed light on different genres and help you understand which might suit your strengths and aspirations.

Professional editors, literary agents and publishing professionals often possess in depth knowledge about various genres and can offer valuable advice. 

Their expertise can guide you in making an informed decision regarding the genre that aligns with your writing style, aspirations and target audience.

Discussions with peers and professionals also expands your network and exposes you to the realities of the publishing world. Through these interactions, you can gain insights into the market, publishing opportunities and genre specific challenges. 

Ultimately, consulting with writing peers and professionals helps you make a more informed and thoughtful choice when deciding which genre to write.

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