3 Ways To Build Your Own Genre

3 Ways To Build Your Own Genre


Today’s fiction market is crowded and competitive. To stand out, you need to have a fresh, bold, or radical voice — and that doesn’t come from following the crowd. It comes from being a pioneer and being willing to risk failure.

So how can you look at genre through a new lens?

3 Ways To Build Your Own Genre

  1. Dust off your reading history. List all the genres you loved in the past. Did you love family sagas? Or college romance novels? Maybe sci-fi? Why did you stop reading them? How can you make them relevant for today’s reader? Perhaps those college romances could deal with sex more honestly or radically. Maybe that family saga can be told from a teenager’s viewpoint as a Young Adult novel.
  2. Look behind the headlines. Topical news stories can give you great ideas for genre. What’s going on in the world around you? What would a spy novel look like today — would it be less James Bond and more Julian Assange? Could a fantasy classic like Lord of the Rings be about a group of characters trapped inside a dangerous virtual reality game?
  3. Draw ‘em from a hat. Why not set yourself a challenge? Write the names of the last 12 novels you’ve read on slips of paper and drop them in a hat or box. Draw three at random and write a short 50-word synopsis for a novel that combines all three. Then draw three more … So maybe you’ll end up with Raymond Chandler’s PI Marlowe taking on the role of Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby with Daisy as the murder victim — only she’s the blond teenage boy in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and oh, just for fun, set the book in Berlin during World War 2. Would that reinvent the lurid PI novel with a strong literary thread? Who knows? You won’t know until you try.

The other route

There’s a saying: If you can’t be first, be better. I guess that’s another way of looking at it. Let’s go back to that ghost story. Say you decide to write it and make it better than any of the other titles out there — well, a good story will always get you a readership. Cream, as another well-worn saying goes, always rises to the top.

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our course in Johannesburg.

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. The Leap In The Dark — 3 Ways To Read As A Writer
  2. 7 First Draft Dilemmas — Fixed!
  3. The Man With The Golden Pen — 5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming

We love what we do!

Become A Writers Write Patron

If you’re inspired, educated, or entertained by our posts, please support us with a monthly donation.

This article has 0 comments

  1. Jesse Magnan

    I have a policy when it comes to writing; don’t chase the market. The market will move faster than you can write many times, and even if you do manage to keep pace your work will have a much harder time standing out.

  2. Anthony Ehlers

    I agree with you, Jesse. Well put.

  3. Michelle Wallace

    Great perspective!

Comments are now closed.