Read this if you're agonizing over choosing a writing genre
Choosing a genre for your fiction novel is a bit like choosing a major in college. There are a lot of choices out there and it can often be overwhelming to narrow it down.
When you’re trying to make a decision about your career trajectory it can feel like a war inside your head as “what if” questions assault your mind.
“What if I choose the wrong path?”
What if I’m not any good at writing in this genre?”
“What if the market is saturated? How will I stand out?”
In the original X-Men movie Hugh Jackman’s “Wolverine” is speaking to Halle Berry’s “Storm” about the impending danger heading their way.
“There’s a war coming,” Wolverine tells her. “Are you sure you’re on the right side?”
Storm responds with: “At least I’ve chosen a side.”
Choosing a side, or a genre in this case, is just a moment in time. If you’re always questioning yourself it hinders any forward momentum and leaves you stuck doing proverbial donuts around the same subject. The best way to counter this hesitancy is to just try something. Better to make a choice and progress with action than constantly agonizing over what could or could not happen in the face of this decision. Don’t worry about the perfect story in your head because nothing is ever perfect when you first start out.
As writers we already know this. How many first drafts have you written in your lifetime? What about second drafts or third? The initial words we put on the page go through a lot of rewrites before we decide to let them out into the world to be judged. But you can’t edit something that hasn’t even been written yet.
There’s a process to finding out exactly what type of writer you want to be. When I first started writing novels I was all over the place in terms of genre. I got random ideas and I wrote them without a thought about how they might be a detriment to finding an audience with their randomness. But within writing those early novels I started to find my voice and explored things I was a passionate about. As I peeled back those layers I began to see a theme emerging in my writing and it was then that I made a proactive choice to have any new books I wrote follow along that theme of “success through struggle.” It not only works for my fiction novels but also for the personal development guides I’ve started writing.
Your stories don’t have to be pigeonholed into the usual tropes of fantasy, romance, horror, etc. There are so many sub-genres within those timeless themes that you can write just about anything. My books have elements of fantasy, magical realism, and supernatural in each of them. I could call it speculative fiction but I like leaning into my theme more than a certain genre. It gives me more room to play where I can add a touch of romance or even humor sometimes. As long as I’m staying true to my theme then I feel I can adequately express the uniqueness of the story I’m trying to tell. Each genre has a specific set of rules that some say must be followed in order to stay true to the audience. I say break the rules and you’ll find your own audience. The trick is to get busy writing and stop worrying about labels so much.