Today let's reflect on the kind of story you are writing. The same story idea can be explored in many genres. Just because you have so far mostly written in one genre, doesn't mean that's the best one for this idea. I'm speaking from experience here; I had an idea I loved, and tried to put it into the genre I was focused on writing at the time (science fiction). After I spent a year writing it, an editor kindly suggested it might be better suited as an historical fiction novel. So I started again from scratch, and he was right - that's the story that eventually got me my agent. I could have saved some time, though, if I'd considered different genres from the start.
1. List all the genres you enjoy reading? (You can't really write in a genre you don't enjoy, or don't read much of, so don't worry about those.) What are the expectations readers bring to each of those genres, particularly in terms of characters, types of goals and obstructions to that goal, and plot line?
2. Review your notes from yesterday about your idea. Which of the genres from your answer to question 1 above, is the best fit?
Now that you've chosen the best genre for your story, let's explore it a bit more.
3. Quickly list your 5-8 favourite novels in this genre. (Some may be old favourites, but make sure at least half are fairly recent, popular books in that genre.
4. Which character did you like most in each of these books? Why? Which character did you like least? Why?
5. What aspect of the plot did you like most? Why?
NOTE: when you are writing and you try to create a new character, or are thinking about what can happen next in your plot, your unconscious mind will instinctively access these stories, and you will think, "Oh I love that idea!" Then, even if you remember that it's a little like what happened in XXX, or the character in XXX, your mind will start to justify why you should use it. ("There are lots of characters like this" "It's not like that author invented this idea". I know, I've done it.) But your target readers will also have read and loved those books, and their minds will also draw connections instinctively - it's what our minds are hard-wired to do. And your story will feel stale to them... UNLESS, because you are consciously aware of those characters and plot-lines, you either avoid them, or give them a unique twist that your readers will enjoy and find fresh and interesting.
6. What, overall, makes your story similar to others in this genre?
7. What, overall, makes your story dissimilar to others in this genre?
If you feel like sharing anything about today's exercise, please leave a comment. We can all learn from each other. See you tomorrow!