Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A Genre Dilemma in a Changing World and Other Covid-19 Activities

I have a great story idea, and I can't wait to finish the rewrite. It's sort of a romance, something of a thriller, definitely a psychological drama. Because the rewrite makes it an evolving story, I'm not sure which genre it fits into.

While most novels contain elements of multiple genres, one should dominate, assuring buyers they're getting the kind of story they want to read. Readers have expectations, which is why genre is essential if your goal is to sell books and build a fan base. A reader of horror may be upset if the ebook she just downloaded is a yarn about two young sisters that takes place during a storm—and one of them is horrified of lightning. Sci-fi aficionados will not likely be pleased if the science-fiction-type cover of their latest purchase wraps around a major love story that overshadows the anticipated futuristic drama.

Consider the following scenario: A sweet old lady purchases an author-advertised "young adult" mystery for a preteen great-niece. Halfway through the story, a graphic rape scene "educates" the young bookworm with lurid details she is not emotionally ready to read. The child is so upset her mother forbids the aunt to give her any more books. The older woman is crushed. She had believed the author's misleading advertising that compared the story to the beloved Nancy Drew series of the past—which implied it would be appropriate for a 12-year-old.

Takeaway: Do your homework and learn the category requirements before you aim the arrow of your story toward a particular audience. Genre classifications dictate a story's style, determine the blueprint for its creation, and lay the foundation on which reader expectation is constructed. Pay attention to them.

After careful research, I determined that my story may (or may not) be literary in style. I have to wait and see where the rewrite takes the book. Do you ever have a genre question? Check out the links below for more information on category requirements and relevancy in twenty-first century writing. If you have any doubts about which genre your story fits and the criteria for its inclusion, you should read the material in these links before you begin writing.

Now, about those"other" projects . . . hmm. Most of my interests center around books and manuscripts. However, they do include activities beyond writing my own stories. For example, a good editing project (which I have) pulls me out of the writing doldrums and seasons my sometimes tired mind with new literary spice. Also, I've been doing some reading, mostly Kathleen Norris novels (published in the 1930s) because she was one of the best of her generation. (How different their writing was from that which we expect today!) I'm about to embark on reading Mara Purl's Milford-Haven series because I've put this off too long. I've already downloaded the first book.

Finally, I'm reworking my stand-alone novels into stories featuring Emilie Hart. Em's my new protagonist—a clinical psychologist and gifted empath who travels from place to place to help those in desperate need of her special skills. This switch is invigorating me, as well as my writing, because I'm venturing into new territory and situations and perhaps even a new genre. The stories may migrate from literary into a suspense/thriller category or . . . we'll wait and see. Yes, that's writing-related, but it's bringing new passion to my weary skills.

Upward and onward!

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. Her novels fall into the literary category because they are character driven rather than plot driven, but their quick pace reminds the reader of genre fiction. They also contain elements of romance, mystery, and thrillers. You can contact her through her websites: and


  1. Editing, revising, reworking...sounds like we're traveling the same path, Linda.

  2. I love to read, which is why editing works well for me. It truly is a welcome distraction during this time when I almost never venture outside my four walls. As for reworking older works, that has been surprisingly rewarding. Years of editing others' manuscripts has made me look at my own in a more objective and critical way, which is a positive change.

  3. You're new idea sounds like a good story, and I like the idea of a protagonist that's an empath. And I agree that editing other author's work has helped me improve my own writing. I found that true for listening to critiques of other stories in the writers' groups I belonged to. Somehow seeing/hearing those weak spots made more sense when in another story. Then I could look at my own with a more critical eye.

  4. Absolutely! It's a learning and growing process, and I love it. :-)

  5. Oh, I am so happy to hear about your return to writing, Linda. Isn't it a wonderful feeling? :)

  6. Your new series sounds great. Better still, you sound excited about it. That's half the battle. Best of luck with it.


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