Genres: How Do I Decide?


Fantasy. Romance. Action-Adventure. Science Fiction. Mystery. Western…

The list goes on and on. And let’s not even mention sub-genres. This is easily the most confusing subject for me, in terms of figuring out the novel’s genre I’m writing. How much of an element makes a book that genre? Say my setting and characters are fantasy, but there’s romance strewn throughout? Does that make it fantasy? Romance? Both? Or is it fantasy with a sub-genre of romance–or vice versa?

Honestly, I’ve written a little bit of everything. I think everyone should try to write a different genre now and again to experiment with how story structure differentiates. But I also know that we’re all at different phases in our writing development. My earliest writings were probably what you would call Modern Fantasy–fiction regarding humans and animals coexisting, though not so fantastical as to have talking animals. Until, of course, I started my short story series around unicorns. But these weren’t your happy-go-lucky, frolic-in-the-meadow-and-eat-grass kind of unicorns. The king of the herd, Wintergreen, used his horn for status as well as protection–from another herd of black unicorns who were trying to attack them and take over. Shall we say the fight scenes were not what you’d expect from a young girl; ironically, just writing this makes me smile fondly. I had to be about 10-12 years old when I wrote these–again, most of them were saved on a 3.5″ inch floppy disk.

So that leads me to ask: What genre do you most prefer to write in? Why? And have you tried other genres? Did you find one surprisingly more easy or difficult?

For myself, I thought I preferred writing fantasy–but not the high fantasy with elves and the like. I like trying my hand at creating new creatures that haven’t been seen in literature yet. And as a Biology Major, I have many animals, plants, and organisms at my fingertips to choose from. With a wild imagination, I can go crazy with changing things up and giving a sense of “realism” or at least introduce a realistic explanation for causing something to happen.

One genre I found surprisingly easy to write, was romance. And another–mystery. When I actually take time to plot things out, I can cover a lot more ground, throw in a lot more details earlier on, than if I just start hitting keys and put words into sentences. In fact, as I write this now, I’m starting yet another novel–outlining it at least. It’s been an idea I’ve had for a few years now and it goes hand-in-trunk with my senior thesis that I wrote about African Elephants. I’m excited to see where it goes.


NaNoWriMo and My Terrible Luck with Electronics


Hello and welcome to my humble blog, which is designed to connect me to my readers–present and future. I hope to learn about you all as you learn about me, and that together we can craft some amazing adventures, plot our way through perilous paths and climb those climactic cliffs as we hurtle our way through writing.

To begin with, I started writing when I was young. My first story began at the age of 7, titled “Bang!”, which was about a young girl befriending a deer, despite the fact her father was a hunter (obviously you can see where it was headed). Alas, my first story was lost by an electronic twist of fate when by some terrible stroke of the key, I deleted all five pages and saved the ’empty’ page. This was to be my first of many misadventures to the electronic age. (Might I also throw in the fact that I saved all my stories in the beginning to a 3.5″-inch floppy disk, where the ka-chunk, chunk, whirr, click indicated the file had been saved. And how pressing ctrl+s to my thumb drive just doesn’t have the same feeling as being saved.)

The first story I set out to write and finish at the age of 13, was titled “Western Valley Ridge” and was about the adventures of a young girl whose parents owned a veterinarian clinic. It was the first novel I had ever written and finished–until, again, by some twist of fate, I lost the last half of the novel and the only remaining copy is somewhere with my 7th Grade English teacher. I have since learned to make a hard copy of all my novels once they have been written–so that in the event of an electronic failure, I have a paper version.

Despite all these setbacks, I have not stopped writing. If anything, I pressed on in spite of it, until High School when a friend of mine introduced me to NaNoWriMo: known as National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days, during the month of November. My life has never been the same since.

My first NaNo novel was terrible. It was fantasy, of course. And a coming of age story, no less. Which, so I read from an article, tends to be the first type of novel most budding writers start with. I hit every single cliché known to man, woman and child; the setting was weak; the plot was non-existent; the characters were flat and uninteresting. BUT. I learned so much from that one novel that the following November my novel improved a hundredfold (it wasn’t like it could get any worse). And while I wanted to burn that copy of the first novel, I still have a copy on my hard drive, as a reminder of how far I’ve come. It will probably never see the light of day–nor should it–but it help inspires me to press on–to show me that I can write 50,000 words in 30 days, that I can craft a novel from beginning to end, and that I can have fun doing it. Because in writing a novel, I discovered I can learn about myself, what I struggle with, what I am struggling with, and what I can do to overcome it.

So… you may be wondering, if NaNoWriMo is going on, why am I starting a blog just before Thanksgiving? I finished early. My novel came to 65k words, and if you were to ask me what it is about, I’d say: “A retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a twist of fantasy”–though that’s not entirely accurate. I say Romeo and Juliet because the two main characters species are at odds with each other, at least on one end. And I liked the idea of a “forbidden love” that blossoms. Whatever the reason, this novel came super easy to me–pouring out of me every time I sat down to write. In the past, I can remember just cringing and fighting to get the words to come out. But every November, every novel, is different. So just because I had an easy one this year, doesn’t mean next year’s will be.

For those still in the grip of NaNoWriMo: Keep on writing! Good luck, don’t give up, and may the literary angels be with you all. For those who haven’t done NaNoWriMo before, I highly recommend checking out the website: as soon as possible. Honestly, what drew me back again and again, even 7 years later, is the camaraderie found on the forums, how we encourage each other to keep writing, and try to problem-solve plot holes, writer’s block, and relationships with the outside world.

If you have questions for me regarding writing, NaNoWriMo, or anything like that, don’t hesitate to ask!