The Importance of Understanding Novel Genres

7 thoughts on “The Importance of Understanding Novel Genres”

  1. Many thanks, Andrea for this insight into choosing genres as a way to establish one’s space in a very crowded market. One Australian writer and journalist I admire is Caroline Overington whose thrillers are page-turners. Her background and experience are used to the full in her novels.
    My husband recently bought me a book for my birthday and asked the owner of the local bookshop for a recommendation with the proviso it had to be a positive and humorous read. Giving someone a book called “Separation Anxiety” at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic was a worry I thought. I’m sure Laura Zigman’s novel appeals to a certain readership but I hated it! I had earlier asked the same bookseller for a recommendation based on the fact I enjoyed bios and true stories. She recommended “Educated” by Tara Westover which I really got into after finishing the previous book. Now I am working my way through “Budgerigar” written by a former journalistic colleague and his partner about the history of this cheeky Aussie bird.
    I guess the point of my ramble is that writers establish themselves and become identified by their genre. No doubting what you would get with a Stephen King novel.
    I need to think about what direction to take with my own writing. Looking forward to your novel Andrea.

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  2. Did a great Zoom short story workshop on Saturday facilitated by Melbourne-based writer Laura Goodin and organised by Mansfield Arts Council. She was a breath of fresh air and really shared such useful insights into writing the short story.

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  3. Now that I’ve finished my 3rd novel in my trilogy, I, like you, realised how vague my Book 1 was wrt genre specificity. My time living in S Africa meant part of one’s survival skills meant finding a way around, under, over or through obstacles, but I had to tussle with what it was I was really writing about. In the process my book became three. All are thrillers, not mysteries. Huge sociopolitical themes in all – after all it’s about apartheid! It had to be medical, somewhat autobiographical, and as the trilogy encompasses a span of 1960-1994, it’s also historical(depending on the variable classifications of publishers – anything from 25-50 years). I’ve had to settle for my work as a sociopolitical thriller, the others would be subgenres, I suppose. This categorisation of my work made Books 2 & 3 easier to write. I have my fingers crossed that NAC will get me across the line with my first work.

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    1. Hi Shadley, lovely to engage with you on here. I hope we can get you across the line as well. Have you looked at some thriller beat sheets? Definitely worth your while. And I’d love to get you working with some of our other authors, but we can discuss that offline.


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