How to Discover the Genre of Your Novel

How to Discover the Genre of Your Novel

So you've written your novel. You poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your work. Now you want to find a Literary Agent for traditional publishing or you want to self-publish. Either way, in order to sell your novel you need to know what genre your story fits. This can seem overwhelming because your story may have more than one genre within the story but we're here to help you figure it out.

Many authors make the mistake of wanting to describe a story as multiple genres when pitching stating something like, "my novel is sci-Fi thriller mixed with a romance story." This example has three genres in it and makes an author look as though they can't identify their own work. It's a common mistake author's, especially new authors make, today there are genres, then sub-genres, it's enough to overwhelm anyone.

Here is a list of main sub-genres:

  • action/adventure
  • fantasy
  • erotica
  • horror
  • literary fiction
  • mystery
  • thriller/suspense
  • romance
  • sci-fi
  • westerns
  • women's fiction. 

And that isn't even touching the sub-genres for non-fiction. To keep things as simple as possible we are just going to cover genres in terms of a fiction novel. 

 This is the general idea of how genres break down. You can use this chart to figure out which path your manuscript follows.

This is the general idea of how genres break down. You can use this chart to figure out which path your manuscript follows.

First when identifying a genre think about if you had one in mind when writing your story. If not, that's alright. Look at the genres above and think about what audience would be the happiest reading your story. Now think about if your novel has a love story, a crime, is it set in the present or future, is there any magic in it, how old is the protagonist? As you look more at these topics it will help you to think like a reader and then find your reader. See below for some definitions of genres to help you get a better idea.

Romance

Traditional romance focuses on a female main character and a male love interest. The biggest thing a romance writer needs to keep in mind is that no other part of the plot can overshadow the romance.

Women’s Fiction

This is also known as “Chick Lit”. It can be considered a subgenre of Romance. Tends to feature sophisticated, savvy women in their 20’s or 30’s. 

Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)

Generally, focuses on technological advances and their impact on their characters and civilizations.

Fantasy

Most fantasies start with the assumption of magic. Harry Potter is a great example of a Fantasy novel. Science Fiction and Fantasy are often categorized together.

Mystery

The main character is usually a police officer, an amateur detective, or a private eye. A mystery must be solved by the end of the book.

Horror

This plays on the fear of the unknown, supernatural or the monsters we secretly believe live under our beds. 

It's true there are many sub-genres out there and all novels can be broken down immensely but at the end of the day, it comes down to the main genres that will market your novel and target the right audience. Do you research and most importantly think like your readers. We are always happy to help here at Writely Me. If you have any more questions shoot us an email or comment on our Facebook writing group.

 
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