#IWSG – How to Find the Right Genre


Genre? What is a genre? Does ‘creepypasta’ count as a genre? It’s confusing, and that makes for writer insecurity.

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Let’s make things easy. A genre is a division in a real-world bookstore. They keep the mysteries in one place, romance in another, and the science fiction and fantasy genres lumped together in another place.

Genres like that are major genres. There are a lot of subgenres under each genre, but the important thing is the major genre. Some subgenres disappear— like the Gothic romance that had its own shelf in the bookstore in its heyday— but writers continue on in another subdivision of the major genre. Some Gothic romance writers just called their work ‘romantic suspense’ and kept on writing Gothics!

What genre is right for me? Because of having Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) I can generate infinite self-doubt about my genre choices. I can tell myself ‘you aren’t really good enough/original enough to write in that genre’ until the sheep come home. (I don’t own cows so can’t do anything until the cows come home.)

The first genre I really loved was science fiction, and that wasn’t because of books, but because of the original Star Trek series. As I grew old enough to obtain books on my own, I read Orson Scott Card and Mercedes Lackey and other authors, some of whom I no longer mention, as in the case of the Darkover authoress who ruined her own fiction by being a swine in real life.

What I really like is a subgenre which is sometimes called ‘planetary romance,’ which is a fantasy-like story which takes place on another planet and where the ‘magic’ tends to be based on science not yet understood in our own time. My current WIP is in this subgenre.

I also get writing ideas that are not ‘planetary romance’ but that fit into the science fiction and/or fantasy genre(s) in some way. Even my ideas for Westerns tend to have alien cowpokes in them. I think that is the key to determining a writing genre— not which you like to read the most, but which genre you constantly have ideas for.

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8 thoughts on “#IWSG – How to Find the Right Genre

  1. One of the best things about today’s blog hop is that I’m learning about so many subgenres that I never even knew existed! 😀 And you make a great point –most of us do seem to lean toward story ideas that live in one particular genre, even if we read widely across many.

  2. Okay–I had to go look up Creepypasta. So that’s what those stories are called. Planetary romance sounds like fun. I’d probably prefer that to high fantasy–simply because fantasy authors sometimes take great, irrational plot leaps and cover it with a “magic” Band-aid. Happy writing in June!

  3. Very interesting deep dive into genres. It’s cool that you’ve figured out down to the subgenre which genre you like writing in.

  4. Although I’ve read a couple of book of planetary romance, i never knew it was a subgenre !

  5. Yes, I have heard there are a myriad of subgenres these days. This can be easier for writers and readers to find each other, or it can too easily pigeon hole people. Not sure how I feel about this and where my writing fits in.

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