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Choosing Genre

I’m really getting serious with my novella. I think it’s coming along well enough to start thinking of getting this baby edited and me attempting to self-publish it. I was talking with another author who happens to be an indie publishing company co-founder about what my next steps would be. She asked what genre my story was and I was like… “Drama!” and she was like… “What kind?”

I realized, then, that this is not like screenplays where I can just say drama and be done with it. Fiction genres are specific. There are certain niches and rules to follow. I freaked out and said, “Well, it’s kind of like young adult… like Speak (by Laurie Halse Anderson).” She understood what I meant after the comparison, but I didn’t know what exactly would be the genre. When I write, I don’t think about that stuff, but after listening to a couple podcasts from Story Grid, they emphasized that it is important to know your genre before writing.

Cue: freak out moment.

Writing screenplays, I know my drama. I know what and where to put each element that goes into dramas. Screenplays have sub-genres as well and I find my screenplays are usually coming of age stories. So everything has a lesson, there’s a sense of betrayal, etc. Whenever someone asks me about my screenplays, I say it’s a drama coming of age story about a young girl, or it’s a drama fantasy story about faeries. Television I can explain my show as it’s a drama series about vampires. I feel having sub-genres available for me to tick off as I submit my scripts to competitions, I’m able to explain easier what my screenplays are about.

Are there “sub-genres” in fiction? Yeah and it’s basically the category and genre specific authors you’ll find in the bookstores (i.e. historical fiction, LGBTQ stories, sci-fi/fantasy, westerns, romance).

Reading over this novella, I’m still not sure what genre to choose. Do I want it to be a young adult story? Sure, this follows two teenagers as they comes to grasp with life, but do I want this to be a teenage story or do I want it to reach adult audiences as well? Who is more likely to read my story?

I did some research and I came across the genres that I could relate my novella with: “young adult problem novel” or “realistic fiction”. “Problem novels” are like teenagers prevailing societal problems like gender, race, sexuality, etc. My novella could relate to this because it does have issues regarding race, but there’s so much more to it than just a race thing. “Realistic fiction” consists of stories that could have occurred in someone’s life and it’s believable. This encompasses a whole lot of stories, and I really feel like my novella falls into this category more. But would adults want to read about teenage problems and life?

Starting out, I wanted to be a young adult writer, but the majority of my story ideas are dark* and I’m not sure many parents would appreciate their young teen reading stories about assault, mental illness, suicide, PTSD, etc. I feel like these stories are important because it’s happening. The more these stories come out the easier for the people suffering to come forward about it. I want teens and kids to understand that they’re not alone and find someone relatable, even if they’re fictional. And I’m not stating right here that I’ll ONLY be writing dark fiction, but at this moment those are the characters and stories that are revealing themselves to me.

*My short stories haven’t been too dark because I was just easing you guys into my writing style. 🙂 

I don’t want to be just a YA author and I feel like if I start promoting myself as one, I’ll be stuck there forever. I know authors like James Patterson have books in all sorts of categories, but he’s been writing for years and already has a ton of books out. I’m just starting out.

So there’s my struggle right now. It’s said that you should write at least three books before you think about publishing. These books should be relatable in some ways because this is how you’re presenting yourself as a writer. I have an idea for my next story and it’s definitely not YA material… so, I’m stuck. I’m freaking out and I haven’t even finished my first “book”.

I think that’s normal?

Thanks for reading!!! Let me know what your thoughts on genre and what I should in the comments below!

-Emi

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