Posted in resources, writing advice

Know Your Genre: Guidelines for Authors

Genre is a little word with big impact. Knowing the right way to categorize your story gives you insight into what it takes to make readers choose it over others on the shelf.

There are dozens of genres out there. Each one has its own standards and guidelines that set it apart. The most popular fiction genres are:

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-fi
  • Mystery
  • Thriller
  • Romance
  • Western
  • Dystopian
  • Contemporary

We can break each one down into countless subgenres. Check the link below for a more detailed list.

The Different Genres of Books (With Descriptions) | BookSummaryClub

Readers have set expectations for each genre’s length, tropes, and story structure. 

The length of a novel can be a deterrent for readers looking for a specific genre. A romance novel, for example, is usually 50 – 75,000 words. An epic fantasy, on the other hand, can easily be 100,000+. Writing a romance novel the length of Lord of the Rings can make readers raise their eyebrows or even pass on the book. While there is no hard and fast word count rule, keeping your story within the standard helps ensure your audience doesn’t turn away from it without at least cracking the spine.

Does anyone else remember the Twilight craze? Please say yes. I don’t want to feel old. This set off a massive trend of vampire and werewolf romance novels in all shapes and sizes. Knowing what is popular in your genre is essential to ensure it sells. If you are writing a shifter romance, but everyone is reading Christmas stories, it may sell poorly. That doesn’t mean you can’t write it. You may want to wait to hit the publish button or submit it to an agent at a different time.

Every genre has elements that define it. Romance novels have to have a happily-ever-after (HEA). If it does not have a HEA, it’s not a romance. End of story. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy because they (SPOILERS) die at the end. It is a romantic story, but it is not a romance because of how it ends. If I didn’t know that was how it ended going in and snatched it off of a romance shelf at the store, I would be ready to go on the warpath at the end. 

Genre is making a promise to your reader about what they can expect from your story.

6 Current Trends In Popular Fiction Genres in 2023 | Writer’s Relief – Writer’s Relief (

Knowing your genre and understanding how it works will go a long way in crafting a story your readers will love. It identifies your audience and gives you a roadmap to follow along the way. Do your research, and you will make your life that much easier.

Posted in Uncategorized, writing advice

Walk Away: Getting Space From Your Work

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Writing is hard. This is readily accepted, but what many of us never talk about is that it never really gets any easier. We expect more of ourselves as we gain experience and learn more about our craft. This can leave the door open for impostor syndrome to wreak havoc on our writing lives.

This is something I’ve been dealing with lately. My edits seemed to take my WIP farther away from where I wanted it to be. Every time I sat down to write, all I could think about was how god awful it was and how inept I was at fixing it. I was seconds away from setting it all on fire and walking away. That’s when I realized I needed some perspective.

On nearly every project, every writer will reach a point where they want to rip their work to shreds and call it a day. It’s the nature of the beast. So what do we do when we get like this? How can we possibly find a way to pick back up and move forward when we are convinced our work is a steaming pile of cow dung? 

I reached out to some of my friends in the writing community for advice. I asked my personal circle and left messages on several writer community pages I am a part of. Everyone came back with the same basic answers. Space. Recharge. Critique.

I can’t resist a Supernatural reference.

Stepping away from a project is challenging. At least for me. I am one of those 100% completion kind of people. I will spend hours aimlessly exploring one tiny section in a video game. I make sure I find all the hidden items and mine as much XP from it as possible from the game. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it tenfold. There is no halfway. However, there are times when you just need to back away. Set the project aside for a while. And I’m not talking for a few hours. I’m talking days. Months even. It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in the cycles of fruitless effort that we may as well just sit and bang our heads on our keyboards for as much good as it’s doing us. Getting some space from your work allows you to return to it with fresh eyes and see it in a new light.

This is how I picture my brain.

I know I have referenced the spoon theory in previous posts, but I’m not sure if I’ve told you all about the “hamster wheel.” I often refer to my brain’s ability to function like a hamster wheel. When things are clicking, the hamster is running for all he’s worth without a care in the world. Those are good days. They are productive and leave me feeling accomplished. Then there are the days when I’ve exhausted the hamster. He’s just laying on the wheel, one little leg hanging off the side, gently rocking it back and forth just enough to keep essential bodily functions operational. Anything beyond that is simply out of the question. Don’t exhaust your hamster. Give it a rest and do something else to recharge your brain. Better yet. Try to do something that has nothing to do with books or writing. Watch a movie. SLEEP. Drink a cup of tea on the porch while watching squirrels chase each other. Whatever it looks like, let your hamster rest so he can get back on the wheel and keep running.

Me starting the editing process.

As authors, we spend a lot of time with our stories. It takes an average of three to five years to finish a novel. That’s a long time. Because we spend so much time in these worlds, our perspective of them can be a bit skewed. We know things about our characters and settings that never see the page. It may be useless drabble. Or it could be a crucial piece of their character that informs the overall plot. Regardless of what it is, we are too close to the work and need an outsider’s perspective. Finding a small group of fellow writers to read your work with a critical eye and provide feedback is invaluable. It lets you see where your story stands from a reader’s perspective while having a writer’s keen eye. They can help you brainstorm solutions to problems they find and pick you up along the way.

Regardless of the route you take, give yourself some grace. What you are trying to accomplish is not an easy task. It takes time. So give yourself some space from your work. Recharge your battery, and get some fresh perspective. It just might save your sanity and keep your WIP alive.