A case for reading the genre you write

Posted December 20, 2016 by Amanda Shofner in Book Marketing, Writing / 0 Comments

Especially if it’s romance. (Seriously. Romance is one of the most misunderstood genres out there.)

So here’s the thing about genre: It’s a framework. Within each genre are conventions that readers expect (and want) to see.

We seek our favorite genres for the predictability of the plot, and we admire writers who twist conventions to create fresh stories. These can exist together, without contradiction.

Read to learn.

Facebook groups provide a wealth of information, especially in regards to the confusion writers have when they’re new to a genre. I see this time and again—writers who want to know how to write a genre.

The best answer to this is read. Even when you can find information about beats or structure or plot—read. Reading will teach you how writers implement these genre conventions, and how you can use or manipulate them to your use.

If you want to “break” genre conventions with your story, great! But to do so, you first need to know what these conventions are and why (and how) to break them.

Read to confront prejudices.

We often come to genres, especially new ones, with specific beliefs that may or may not be right. I see this most with romance (it’s too “predictable” or “unrealistic”), but that doesn’t mean other genres or themes don’t experience similar biases.

We bring these prejudices and biases to our writing. Avid genre readers will spot these—and these biases may be enough for readers to set down your book.

Read widely. One book in a genre isn’t enough to get an accurate picture.

Read to appreciate.

Writers have imaginations that don’t quit—for the better. The range of stories you’ll find within a genre is vast.

Read them all. Appreciate the variety of the stories; you’ll find your manuscripts are better for it. Your writing will improve the more you read.

Read to market.

Ah, yes. The dreaded “market” word. Reading the genre you write allows great insight into how your book fits into the market. When you understand who writes books similar to yours, you’ll find that marketing your book becomes easier.

Marketing your book requires understanding what about it will appeal to readers. Without understanding genre, this will be next to impossible. Without writing to genre conventions, this will be next to impossible (and this is largely why, to this day, I have difficultly promoting The Hunted series).

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