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Identify the Genre of your Novel

I have been following the #Pitchmadness posts on Twitter and noticed that the slush readers have made a few comments about some of the #Pitchers not properly identifying their genres. So I've put together a flow chart writers or readers can use to identify the genre of their novel. In this post, I'm specifically going to be addressing genre for fiction novels.

Genre is a category that novels can be placed in based on the content, the theme, the characters and other conventions in the story. Conventions are those consistent elements that we read about over and over. For example: a convention or common element in fantasy is magic.

Easy right? Not really. Especially when a novel can belong to a sub-genre. Then it gets tricky. A way to avoid confusion is to think about the purpose or reason the author wrote the novel, and to think about how the reader would react to the novel.

So let's put your novel to the test. When you write a novel you use a number of tricks (beyond the ending) that creates a dominant impression or feeling in your reader.

When a reader reads your novel, what do they feel?

The next element to look at is the setting. The setting in a novel will give us many clues about the genre.
When and where does your novel's protagonist or main character live?
 Are you starting to see a pattern of clues you can use to identify your novel's genre? By now, you might have figured it out, or maybe it's still not clear between some of the similar genres. Let's try looking a little closer at your main character.
How would you describe the protagonist in your novel?
By this point, you've surely got it narrowed down and probably just need some reassurance. Here it comes. Match your novel up to these final points, put all the clues together from each of the categories of setting, reader response, and protagonist and you've probably got your genre right. 

 You'll notice I didn't flesh out humour or erotica or western. Some genres are pretty self-explanatory. Now that you have a genre idea, look up genres on google and read the descriptions. Usually, the articles will give you a list of books from each genre. Use the list to compare novels to your own. Read a couple just to make sure. It's worth the time to ensure you have a good handle on your genre, because you won't convince a publisher or agent to take you on if you don't know what you wrote.
So what's next? Well, identifying the reading market is probably the next thing you need to identify for a publisher or agent. Is your novel a YA, NA, or MG? That's for the next blog.



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