Good morning everyone! I hope everyone has enjoyed their week~!
In last week’s addition of “Writing advice“, we talked about Prequels and the things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to write a prequel. Now we are going take a quick step back and talk about the basics of book writing. When you first decide that you want to write a book, you don’t realize how much of a mammoth task it is (*cough* personal experience *cough*), so over the next few weeks, I’m going to provide advice for what you need to keep an eye on when writing a book, one hurtle at a time.
This week’s category is genre! If you are starting a book completely from scratch (no characters, no plot-line, nothing), I would recommend thinking about what your genre is first. It’ll give you the parts from which to build a base for your story.
Fantasy: This genre gives you creative licence to make anything you want real. There are no real boundaries, as the term”magic” really just means anything you want it to mean. The thing you need to look out for though when writing a fantasy book is structure. While having everything you could ever want completely realistic is great, you also need to watch and make sure there is still something for the reader to hold onto. A prophecy, character arcs, the main story (what your characters are doing), and maybe even origins for your creations, are things to always keep in mind so you don’t lose your reader to the unknown. And, if you want, mythology often can provide a solid base or inspiration for your fantasy realm.
Sci-fi: This genre is the main genre of my books. It is a healthy mixture of the whimsical nature of fantasy and the realistic structure of historical or non-fiction genres. While you can have wild and wonderful aliens, animals, and mutant humans, there is always a rhyme and reason to them. Aliens are.. well aliens, not a whole lot more explanation needed there. Strange animals can be hybrids of a variety of species, experiments, or on the verge of extinction and very rare (and easy to hide if it lives underwater). Furthermore, mutant humans (often with supernatural powers) can be naturally born mutant, the products of experiments, or caused by a freak accident. There are many different settings that also fit quite snugly into the science fiction genre. This genre does require research to back up any of your unnatural occurrences in your story. The point is to have an unrealistic world that is provable enough that the reader can hope and dream that maybe it is actually true.
Romance: There are many romance books on the market, though I have yet to get into the genre as a whole. Romance can often be tied as an extra layer to your book, on top of another genre. You probably know what I’m talking about, but let me give an example. A war is going on in a world completely dominated by sentient (or AI) robots. The reason for the robot’s war is yet to be seen, but two robots fall in love in the mist of the chaos. Maybe they are some wild reenactment of Romeo and Juliet, maybe they don’t even know what love is, but they feel “it”. Whatever the case, the war and its struggles are the main plotline, and the romance is secondary, but gives a little more heart and reliability to the characters. Of course, there is still doing romance as the main plot-line, in which case i recommend: READ. Read like crazy. Read the most popular romantic novels (The Fault in Our Stars, the whole collection of Jane Austin), and maybe pick out some less-known books too. Figure out what makes those book great, or “meh”, and use what you learn to craft your story.
Mystery/Crime fiction: This was my favorite genre to read when I was younger. I read Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children, anything mystery related that I could get my hands on. The age-group of the audience you’re writing for will really determine how much research and detail you put into your mysteries. While more youth-targeting (ages 6-13) books will require simpler language and lighter crimes (theft, missing persons, etc), more teenage/adult targeted series will have more technical terms, procedures, and more intense/graphic crimes (murder mainly). This doesn’t mean if you want to write a more grown-up series you have to resort to really graphic crimes, in fact some adults would prefer if it was not; it just means you have to put just a little more attention to detail than might be necessary in a youth novel. Something to look out for while writing a mystery novel: keep it realistic. Even if your story in set in the far future, or a completely different world, you need to set out guild-lines, laws, and policies that will govern your police-type characters.
Historical fiction: The only reason I know anything about writing this genre is because a few months ago, I tried taking a writing course on fiction, but I accidentally watched how to write historical fiction instead. I didn’t finish, but what I did learn was that you don’t make stuff up. Unlike the other forms of fiction writing, historical fiction is very rigid and requires heavy attention to accuracy and detail. You need to choose a person or event to follow, then do as much research as possible. Even though its fiction, evidently you don’t make stuff up. You can make educated guess as to what the characters did and said, but you don’t get to plot 21st century mannerisms on someone from the 1800s.
No matter what genre you end up choosing for your novel, reading in your genre is always a really good idea. It not only gives you a feel for the genre, and what other authors have done, but it can help you improve your own writing by reading what other authors have done in their novels. I know of a lot of people (including myself at one point) who are worried that reading in your genre will make you accidentally plagiarize what they’ve written. I say: don’t worry about it. If you happen to accidentally write something belonging to that writer, you’ll probably either catch it in your second draft, or eventually edit it so much that it becomes your own. (no, not changing around the words and calling it yours, but using their ideas to springboard into your own, wonderful world). By the time your final draft comes around, there may be many things from your first draft, that were placed aside for something better. If you’re still concerned, ask a friend who’s read the story you think you copied from and show them the parts you think might be too close to the original and see what they think!
Thank you for reading~ If you have anything to you’d like to comment, or ask about, please feel free to write a comment below; I’d love to hear from you!