Monday, 21 December 2015

Best of the ACW Archives: Why are genres determined by reader expectations?

by Narelle Atkins

I write in the contemporary inspirational (Christian) romance genre but I love reading books in other genres. A genre can be defined as a category of literature. Fiction genres include Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Historical, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Horror and Young Adult. Each fiction genre may contain multiple sub-genres and also cross over between genres. Historical Romance has many sub-genres defined by the time period and/or setting. For example, a regency romance is usually set in England, 1811-1820. 

Why is genre important? If you’re writing for your own pleasure, then genre really doesn’t matter. But if you’re writing to publish, you need to find a market for your books. Your market consists of readers and genre definitions are a marketing tool that helps readers choose between different types of books.

For example, in a romance novel the story will focus on the developing romantic relationship between the hero and heroine. Romance readers expect the story to have a happily-ever-after ending for the hero and heroine. They read romance to journey with the characters as they struggle to overcome obstacles in the story to achieve their happy ending. If a book is marketed as a romance but the hero and heroine don’t meet until three chapters before the end, or the hero and heroine go their separate ways at the end of the book, the reader will be disappointed because the book does not meet their expectations of a romance book.

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