Narrative genres – Series Writing your novel

In November, thousands of writers gather to write a novel. This is the goal of NaNoWriMo, a writing contest that challenges writers to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. With this in mind, Livr(a) prepared four posts with special tips for writing novels. Today we will talk about genres.

Have you thought about the advantages of adapting your book to a narrative genre? For new authors, mainly, adjusting your book to a genre can give you a sense of “belongingness” – which makes your project quickly familiar, with a solid reader base that looks for your type of book. Knowing the narrative genre and adapting to it, seeking to fulfill the expectations of your readers, can be a great strategy to build a fan base.

Here is a short description of the five most common literary genres and some famous works for you to be inspired by!

Romance: In this kind of story, the romantic relationship between two characters is CENTRAL in the plot. This means that your story will revolve around how the characters know each other, fall in love, and stay together, usually involving a lot of sexual tension, desire, and idealism. The authors usually keep the characters apart most of the time, but there is an expectation of a happy ending. Most novel readers pick up a book like this to read because they want a happy ending. Some subgenres of novels include historical, fantastic, and Gothic novels. For inspiration, read Jane Austen’s great novels such as Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. Recently, romance novels with a strong sexual theme are on the rise. This is the case of 50 shades of Grey, by E. L. James.

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Fantasy: After the romance, the fantasy genre is probably the fastest growing in popularity. In this kind of story, there is always an impossible world – it can be either with folk creatures or concepts based on magic. This kind of story involves a lot of world-building because even though it is an impossible world, it still requires logic. It’s very common for fantasies to pass in times like the Middle Ages, but there are fantasies that run away from that, like J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. These stories also include a lot of action, and a famous trope is the fight of good against evil.

Science Fiction (or Sci-fi): This narrative genre, unlike fantasy, presents an improbable world. This world, then, is not the real world but can be explained by things like apocalypse and/or technological advances. Often, this unlikely world is dystopian, and the characters often need to survive the problems of this new world. There are many science fictions that focus on interstellar travel, time travel, among other things. Margaret Atwood is an excellent science fiction writer and her works on this subject include The Handmaid Tales and the MaddAddam trilogy.

Mystery/Horror: These stories may or may not involve a supernatural element, but they always focus on causing suspense and terror in readers. Usually, there is a protagonist who needs to fight for survival or try to escape from something. A genius of terror and mystery is Stephen King, and his most famous books, such as It and The Shining have become famous films.

Crime/Action: Crime and action books usually involve the trope “whodunits? – and focus on murders and a policeman or detective who needs to unravel the mystery, and may even be in danger for it. The book needs to focus on the mystery to be solved, the identity of the offender, and how the detectives will achieve justice (or not). Probably, readers of crime and action connect more with the tension and the uncovering of the mystery than with a “happy” ending. Agatha Christie and her famous detectives are great sources of inspiration for those who like this kind of story.

Nothing stops you from blurring the barriers between genres and doing something that mixes different kinds of tropes. It is always important to know books about the genres you write and the ones you want to write, so you can make something new.

See too: Series Writing Your Novel: Planning your novel