INTRODUCTION TO GENRE WRITING
Beyond the Basics
There are all the little skills and techniques that transform a notion into a great reading experience. The writer who writes general fiction can delve into the basics more deeply and perfect those basic elements with more precision, more nuance. The writer who chooses the path of genre fiction has a few more particular skills to acquire.
Balance of the basics shifts with every genre.
There may be more need of description and narrative to create the background of a fantasy world, or a sci-fi situation: this is a situation where 'telling' becomes more important, though it must be done with skill, and 'showing' is always going to be on top.
The characters in either genre will not be like the inhabitants of a mainstream fiction world. They need to be not only more clearly detailed, but to still be convincing and realistic within the logic and physics of the created world. And those, too, need to be clarified.
Focus on senses shifts dramatically for erotica. Sensual writing, still, however, needs to value story and character: these are never just an excuse, and should be treated with as much care and respect as the sensual elements.
The didactic element needs to be handled with special skill in the historic novel, or the sci fi or fantasy novel in which many unfamiliar things will need to be clarified. It is possible to teach the reader without boring them, or bouncing them out of the story and into a classroom.
Mysteries and thrillers require high suspense, and tend to follow set formulas under the surface, and dwell heavily on the unanswered and seemingly unanswerable questions and unknowns. The mystery thriller has a higher 'tease' factor that requires skill to deliver, and it is no fun for the reader to guess the solution too soon.
In the action/adventure, 'passive voice' plays an important role in giving the reader a breather, and is part of the transition from one action scene to the next, so that is another 'Basic Rule' that changes for genre writing.
Dialogue has to reflect the bias of whichever particular genre you're writing. Accents, syntax, jargon, idiom... all come into play with more intensity than in a mainstream novel.
The rhythm of the words, as well as the words themselves, need to be appropriate, or they will not be effective. JRR Tolkien was masterful in manipulating the reader to 'be in' the world of his tales, through shifts in rhythm and syntax: the narrative style as well as the dialogue and scenes, convey the ambience of each moment and the participants.
To write successfully in a particular genre, you need to know what the established conventions are for that genre, and how to work them so your work still reflects originality and freshness: the thrill of the unexpected, a solid but unpredictable and compelling arc to a satisfying conclusion. This series of articles will be addressing these issues, and others, and pointing out the ways you can give your work the best chance of seeing publication with The Zharmae Publishing Press.