Ask Inkitt: Jumping into a New Genre

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Today’s question: I’ve been writing exclusively in one genre but want to try something new. Do you have any advice for making the switch?

Yes, I have some great tips to help you get started writing in a different genre. In the modern age of publishing, authors have more flexibility than ever before. We’re able to take more ownership of our careers, experiment with our storytelling and platform, and interact directly with our readers. If we want to try something new, there’s really nothing stopping us. But, of course, we want to do it well, so it’s worth it to do our homework first. Here are my top tips to help you make the jump into a new genre…

Read widely in this genre.

Identify what you like about this genre. What attracts you to it? Is it the pulse pounding action scenes, the deeply developed characters, the happy ending? Ask yourself how the author successfully pulled off the plot twist you didn’t see coming, or made you cry, or laugh out loud, or stay up all night to get to the last page.

By reading widely in your genre of choice, not only will you learn what you like about it and what works from a storytelling perspective, but you’ll be able to identify the expectations a reader will have when they pick up a book in that genre. That brings me to the next point…

Learn the rules of the new genre.

You may be thinking that rules are made to be broken! I cautiously agree with you but with two very big qualifiers. First, best practices in writing are just that – best practices. While not all encompassing, or true for every occasion, most writing ‘rules’ became rules because they have merit. I’m of the opinion that we should understand a rule before we break it, not because we’ve callously disregarded it. Breaking the rule should make our story stronger.

Second, when you break some rules, you’ve written yourself out of that genre. For example, an absolute must for the romance genre is a happy ending. Can you write a compelling story that contains romance but ends in tragedy? Of course, but you won’t be shelving it next to other romance novels. Readers of romance want a happy ending. It’s important to them. It’s part of the reason they read romance. So, if you want to write in that genre, deliver the happy ending.

I’ve pulled together a list of list useful posts to help you navigate various genres. Do some research before you dive into a new genre. It will save you time and make your story stronger.

Fantasy: Writing an Epic, Magical Systems, The Heroes Journey – A Quick and Dirty Rundown

Science Fiction: World Building Basics, Beyond the Basics, Writing the Science in Science Fiction

Mystery, Thriller, Suspense: Writing Suspense – Five Pressure Points to Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats, What is a Cozy Mystery and How Do I Write One?, Writing a Psychological Thriller

Romance: Want to Write a Romance? Here’s What You Need to Know, All About Romance Genres, Spark Romance – 5 Swoon Worthy Tips

Horror: What Halloween Can Teach Us About Writing Horror, Writing Monsters, Horror Writing – Embrace Fear, Shock, and Disgust

Consider a pen name.

If you already have a well-developed platform in one genre, you may want to consider using a pen name if you are drastically departing from it, especially if your audience will be very different. For example, if you write middle grade fiction and you want to jump into erotica, you’re definitely writing for a different crowd!

On the other hand, you may not want to lose your audience if some of them are interested in following you into a new venture. For example, I write mainly science fiction, but I expect to publish my urban fantasy under the same name and platform. Both are speculative fiction. My readers can choose to check out the new story or not, but I’d like to give them the chance. However, I write romance under a pen name. I don’t hide that identity, but I do promote these books differently and interact on my platform differently.

Remember, you already know how to construct a story.

Your good writing skills will travel with you from one genre to another. If you’ve successfully completed other manuscripts, you’ll be using all that knowledge as you try something new. Many principles of good storytelling are transferable.

Enter Inkitt’s New Year, New Genre writing contest!

It’s the perfect time to try something new. The theme of January’s writing contest is New Year, New Genre! Challenge yourself to write in a genre you’ve never tried before. Authors who can submit a book of 20,000 words or more by January 31st, 2021 will be eligible to win. Here’s more information about the contest: 2021 Inkitt Writing Contests.

Want to know more about the Inkitt platform? We invite you to ‘ask Inkitt’ via email: [email protected] We’ll post answers to the most frequently asked questions every Thursday right here on the Inkitt Writer’s Blog.  

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Check out our last few Ask Inkitt articles, for insider tips, secrets and advice.

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About Author

Tabitha Lord is the award-winning author of the HORIZON series. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, four kids, two spoiled cats, and lovable black lab.

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