The lazy writer’s guide to genre

The lazy writer’s guide to genre 

Know you want to write be aren’t sure what? Simply scan through the list below and you’ll soon find the genre for you! 

Childrens & Young Adults 

How well do you know the little blighters? Can you find the right degree of simplicity without falling into patronisingness? Are you afraid of being terribly, terribly silly – or, at the older age-range, terribly po-faced and intense (because, like, teenagers feel, man)? Plus you have to pick an additional genre, which means you’ve got all those problems too. Incredibly difficult and best avoided 


Risky. Visual humour doesn’t work too well when written down, and sarcasm and irony create black comedy at best. Unless you’re really, really good at writing bon mots and creating high farce I’d steer well clear. Otherwise you end up looking like a bit of a prat


A tricky bugger as you actually have to create a plot. One both convoluted and logical. You also need to know a little about police work, criminals and the like. Or you could just make it all up, but beware you don’t fall over the Cliff of Implausibility. I can’t recommend this


 Icky-squicky couplings displayed in all their misbegotten glory. Oh yes. Just be ready to create a secret identity, for nobody looks at you the same way after they’ve read about your predilection for whips, chains and hot wax. Trust me on this 


No-one in their right minds would ever write fantasy. For a start you have to create your own ‘world’, with its own ‘laws’, its various ‘peoples’ and so on. Nightmare. You’ll soon be drowning in notes. And that’s even before we get to magic. Even magic has to have rules or the novel will just be an expurgated spew of chaos. Far too much like work 


How much do you like research? Because you can bet your bottom dollar that every mistake, every little tiny anachronism, every modern phrasing will be picked up by somebody – and historical fiction fans are notorious letter-writers. And how are you going to combine modern attitudes – towards women or sexuality, say – with the realities of the past? 


Ready to embrace your deepest, darkest fears and pin them to the page so everyone can see what a freak you are? Have an obsession with viscera and parasites? If so, horror might be the genre for you. Just be ready to be scowled at by people who think they’re too good for all that. Right down there with erotica in the ‘respect’ stakes, but without that strange warm feeling that could be guilt, could be… something else 

Literary fiction 

Are you a genius? No? Move along, please, nothing to see here 


Can you write intensely emotional love scenes without use of the ‘f’ word? Are you capable of describing deep, passionate kisses that go on for days without resorting to cliché? Have you the skills to craftily navigate your way around the Bad Sex Award? Can you find something new to say in this, the oldest of stories? No? Me neither 


See fantasy, but replace ‘magic’ with ‘technology’. Again, stay away 


There are two options: the James Bond style glamour-chase and the le Carre-a-like intrigueathon. One is relatively simple but somewhat old-fashioned. The other is incredibly complicated. Both are full of double-agents, femme fatales and suspicious accents. Like a crime novel but with even more twists and turns. Far too difficult, especially now we’re out of the Cold War 


This is like historical: you’ve got to spend hours and hours and hours of research. And that’s before you lift a pen in anger. Then you’ve got to write the damn thing, finding something that hasn’t been said many times already. Finally you’ve got to avoid causing any national/racial offence whilst being true to the situation. Basically this is far too much like work 


A combination of historical and adventure at heart: but can you really balance the brutality of the old Cowboys & Indians reality with modern sensibilities? Don’t forget the need for strong female characters and all sorts of racial sensitivity. And it is a bit of a niche market these days 

All of which should lead you to… 

Parish magazine 

This is more like it. The natural home of every writer who wants a quiet life. Highly recommended

6 thoughts on “The lazy writer’s guide to genre

  1. Pingback: Blank | Wordz on a Page

  2. Reblogged this on A Writer's Life and commented:

    I’ve failed to write anything acceptable for the first time in yonks. So, by way of a holding pattern, please accept this post of five years ago in lieu of my eternal soul. Normal service will be resumed next week, I promise


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