You know, if a feller wasn’t careful (my southern voice comes through in spite of my efforts), it would be really easy to lose your creative vibe from brooding about the business aspects of writing. It’s not enough that we must worry about plot holes, or dramatic tension. Or about blogging too much, or blogging too little. It’s not enough to summons the creative forces around you and accomplish those writing goals. Because for many of us, the art of writing also involves the business of publishing, we simply have to address the ‘elephant in the room.’ Ignoring it won’t make it go away…if you’re going to blog successfully you have to choose a niche, and if you’re going to write a novel, you have to choose a genre.
It’s more complicated that it sounds. Choosing a novel genre is a decision that — strategically at least — is best done before the first words are written. Ideally, before plots are planned or premises are structured. It’s about having an intended audience to write for and a specific genre to pitch to potential publishers or agents. It’s one of the first questions that will be asked. What is your genre? Who are you writing to…readers of romance, suspense, mysteries, fantasy, or sci-fi? But it’s also about streamlining your writing process, because each genre has specific standards.
For example, from the RWA (Romance Writers of America) website, they say this about Romance novels: “two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.”
Pretty straightforward as guidelines go. Where it gets tricky is when the writer combines, or mixes genres. It’s a very common practice, as illustrated in the Hunger Games, a science-fiction/fantasy love story. Or with Steven King’s 11/22/63, science-fiction, semi-historical love story, just to name a couple. But with each example, their primary or focused genre took the front seat, and the others were along for the ride.
The same principles apply for blogging, as I addressed in an earlier post, because a niche narrows down the scope of your audience. Like writing for a specific novel genre, picking a niche streamlines the blogging process when you know exactly who you’re writing for, or what your readers want to learn or gain from reading your blog. Guidelines and principles are just suggestions that are there to help others achieve success with their writing, and have been put in place by those who have either succeeded in their chosen niche or learned lessons from pitching or writing novels without specific genres in mind.
In the end, it’s the writer’s choice whether or not to choose a genre or niche. But the business of publishing, whether it’s a novel or blog, helps to narrow the options, often forcing the writer’s pen in one direction or another.
In any case, I’m still writing…