Know your Genre! I’m serious!

Know your GenreKnowing your genre helps you do everything from build your characters to set your tone. Who knew!!? When I finally looked for my genre, this is what I found! I had no IDEA there were so many. I’m serious! Scroll down the list! Excuse the number of !!!! but I was stunned.

There’s more to knowing and understanding your genre than making it easy for sellers to put your book on the right shelf.

Close to finishing my first novel (YES!!!!! It’s actually real!!), I began to pay more attention to the whole “know your genre” thing. Really only because I had to say where it belonged in the synopsis and cover letter.

So I looked at detective, mystery and thriller and to my surprise, my book didn’t fit any of them completely.

If you enjoy the thriller/detective/mystery genres, you’ll have noticed that although they seem similar, each genre has a very clear definition of what they are, who they appeal to, the type of language they use, the type of characters that make the story and how light or heavy they are as a read.

A thriller, Pelican Brief as an example, is totally different to a detective story like the Rebus books, which in turn is a world away from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot in the horror genre. People who enjoy a thriller might hate detective stories. Both genres are about finding the truth, but they use different language, different types of characters and are most often on totally different stages: global for thrillers and local for detective (I am generalising now…).

My point being, the genre really does help you know your reader and what they will or won’t accept in your book. The supernatural, for instance, can sneak into a mystery, but it can’t often sneak into a thriller. Do you see what I mean?

Even the language is different. A down and dirty detective story might be written using a kind of language that someone who enjoys political intrigue just won’t get.

The genre determines the tone, language, subject matter, length, ending, EVERYTHING!

So ask a different question… Instead of asking “What genre is my book?” ask instead “What will people who read my book, also enjoy?”

You might be surprised.

When I asked that question, my mind turned to TV instead of books. People who enjoy Pie in the Sky, Rosemary and Thyme, Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote… might just enjoy Feet First, a Boline Creek novel.

Hallelujah!!

Turns out, all those TV series are part of a genre called Cosy (or Cozy if you’re in the US) Mystery.

Never heard of it!

A Cosy Mystery takes place in a small town, the “detective” is most often not the police, death and sex aren’t taken seriously, the focus isn’t on blood and gore and there isn’t a lot of gun-slinging language.

So, take your time on this question. What will people who read your book, also enjoy?

Have a glorious week.
Tina