There are so many genres out there, but which one should you write? Do you have a desire to write a thriller? A horror? Or maybe romance is your thing? Choosing your genre will decide how long your novel is going to be as each genre has a different word count.
Fantasy novels tend to have a huge word count. Look at the Game of Thrones series that are well over 200,000 words in length. Historical novels can also be very high, too. Where if you look at crime, thrillers or horror, the word count is a lot shorter, normally around the 90,000 to 100,000 mark. There are always exceptions to this, of course. If you don’t think you can manage to keep a story going for 200,000 words, then maybe fantasy isn’t your genre.
The main way you’ll decide what genre you want to write is going to be what genre you’re interested in reading. You have to be interested in a certain type of story. If you’ve never enjoyed a romance novel, then what are you doing trying to write one? A top Stephen King advice is to read extensively. Get your market research done by reading the genre you enjoy. When you’ve read a book you love, you’ll be desperate to write something just as good.
The reading process is not only enjoyable, but it should also be educational. We learn from everything we read as writers. Ask yourself a number of questions when you’ve finished a book.
What did you enjoy about the book?
How did the writer keep you reading?
What structure did the writer use?
What narrative did they use?
What was their first chapter like?
What pulled you in?
When you come across a book you don’t enjoy, and there will be some, ask yourself why you didn’t enjoy it. Was it not to your taste? Was there something about the characters you didn’t like? Perhaps it’s the choice of narrative they used.
If a book bores you, there could be a number of reasons. Personally, I think it all comes down to structure. The idea of the book was probably good, because you read the blurb and decided to invest time reading it. What could be an issue is the execution. The writer might have a certain style you didn’t like, perhaps spending too long at the beginning of the novel. By the time you’re halfway through, you’ve lost interest.
Pace is really important in a novel. If it stays as a straight line without any build, I can guarantee it’ll be the reason a reader finds it boring. Perhaps something really big happens that changes everything halfway through, but if the reader stops before then, what’s the point? You need to litter your novel with interesting events to avoid this trap. That’s why reading is important, because you can see what works and what doesn’t.
In your own writing, you need to be critical like you would if you were reading another author’s work. That’s why it’s great advice to put your completed novel away for a couple of months without working on it. When you go back to read, it’ll be fresher and you can pull yourself away from it as the writer and see it as a reader. Note which parts of the plot bore you.
The only way you can acquire critical thinking like this is to read constantly. With the advent of the kindle, it’s so much easier to read. No longer do you have to lug about a massive paperback everywhere you go. Saying you haven’t got time to read is no excuse, because in life, there’re always times when you’re having to wait for something. My reading times comes on my commute to work, crammed onto a crowded tube, Kindle in hand. It’s a great escape.
My final thoughts are:
Write in a genre you enjoy reading.
Don’t attempt a genre with a high word count if you don’t think you can manage that.
Read lots in your chosen area, but occasionally dip into something else for variety.
Be critical when reading everything. Always ask what you enjoyed and what you didn’t enjoy.
Approach your own work as a reader and be just as critical.
Kevin Grover is an indie author of supernatural thrillers. His books are on Amazon and his website, Indie Bookshelf, shares various tips and experiences about his indie career.