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  • Writer's pictureluisaraegan

How To Research Your Novel Genre + Tips On Choosing the Right POV

When it comes to story ideas, we creatives are in no short supply, but the hard part is figuring out how to make that idea come to life. There's proper story structure, etiquette, not to mention a million other factors to consider, such as what POV or narrative to write -- not to mention tense! It's a wonder any of us have been able to publish books at all. :p

The most challenging part is understanding the nuances of the genre we want to write. If you plan to publish your book commercially, you need to know the ins and outs of the genre you're writing as well as your target audience in order to get that book deal.

If you're stuck on how to go about researching your genre and choosing the right POV, here are some tips!

You must have a ballpark of what genre your story idea fits into. But do you know all the nuances and industry standards of that genre? Research this before you start writing.

Many genres have sub-genres as well! In the romance genre for example, there is contemporary, erotica, historical, romantic suspense, inspirational romance, and speculative romance (i.e. paranormal, fantasy, science fiction). Ensure you understand where your genre fits within the sub-genre.

If you plan to publish your book commercially, you need to know your target audience -- the demographic who best suits your book!

It will not only make a difference if you go the traditional publishing route but also if you self publish! Categorizing your novel properly when selling your book through Amazon channels is vital. If you want your book to sell, you need to market it properly so your book reaches your target audience.

Your novel should encompass elements based on the demographic. This is especially important in the romance genre seeing there are different levels of heat in terms of how explicit sex scenes are. YA would have more 'closed door' description of romance, whereas New Adult or Adult romance has more explicit sex scenes. If your romance fits into the erotica category, it would be all about sex and less about plot. It's important to research these differences and know where your story fits.

Another vital thing when researching your genre is to understand the standard word count for the genre you're writing. There are industry standards when it comes to word count, and if you want to publish traditionally, this is especially vital.

The average word count for a novel is between 60,000 and 110,000 words but there are industry standards for particular genres that you should aim for:

Contemporary Romance : 50,000 - 90,000 words Paranormal Romance: 75,000 - 95,000

Adult Contemporary fiction : 60,000 - 90,000 words

Young Adult fiction: 60,000 - 90,000 words Mystery: 40,000 - 80,000 words

Young Adult Fantasy - 90,000 words (300 pages)

Adult Fantasy - 90,000 - 200,000 words

Science Fiction - 50,000 - 150,000 words (170-500 pages_

It's perfectly fine if your novel doesn't hit the exact word count, but say you're writing a contemporary romance and you have 200,000 words -- you would definitely have to cut a lot.

Do yourself a favour and research this before you write. It will save your sanity in the editing stage.

Unfortunately not every story fits the mainstream market. It doesn't necessarily mean your book isn't good enough, it's just the hard truth of the traditional publishing world.

Agents, editors and publishers know the industry, and more times than not, the stories that sell best are the ones that fit the commercial market. If you hope to be accepted by an agent and get a publishing deal with one of the big five, you need to have a premise that fits that mainstream. This isn't such a big deal in the self-publishing world, but then again, that market is tough too!

Trends and tropes come and go, but if you take a look at mainstream fiction they follow a similar structure -- most often the three act structure, and have solid plot as well as character development. Everything needs to come full circle.

The best advice I can give is to read mainstream fiction, embrace the three act structure and take time to develop and improve your craft and not rush the process. It takes time to learn the art of proper storytelling, but once you get it, you'll be finishing top notch manuscripts and your queries will turn into book deals.

At the end of the day, if you have a story you want to write, you write it! Just be prepared that it may not be suited for commercial publishing.

Trends and tropes do come and go but knowing your book's tropes is helpful when promoting and selling your book. Especially in the self-publishing world.

Tropes are especially prevalent with romance novels, and are a huge selling feature.

My favourite tropes personally are the protector and forbidden love trope. Whenever I see a story advertised with those tropes you bet your bottom dollar I'm going to check them out!

Here are some more examples of other romance fiction tropes:

- Love Triangle

- Secret Billionaire/Royal

- Friends to Lovers - Enemies to Lovers

- Bully

- Stuck Together

- Second Chance

- Soul Mates/Fated Mates

- Age Gap

- Fake Relationship

- Best friend's brother/sister

-Unrequited love

Great writers are also great readers! Explore novels in your genre to help you write yours.

The hardest thing to figure out is what point of view to write your book. I see so many questions on this amongst the writing community. There's single point of view, dual point of view, multiples points of view not to mention first person narrative versus third. How can you possibly choose!?

My advice: take into consideration the premise of your book and the scene ideas you have in your head to get a starting point. Does it make sense for it to be more like a diary (first person), or do you like to be the narrator yourself and depict what's happening to your characters (third person).

I personally love to read books with first person, dual narrative, so naturally I wrote a book that was first person dual narrative! Write what you love to read.

In addition to point of view and narrative, you need to determine what tense you want to write. Present tense has become a growing trend, but it can be really hard to execute properly, especially if you're a debut author. I had written my first book in present tense and when an agent critiqued my first ten pages at a Writer's Digest workshop I attended, she warned me of this and suggested I rewrite the ten pages in past tense and send them back to her. Within the week, she got back to me and said it read much better.

So with that, I got to work and edited my entire manuscript, switching it from present to past tense. It was a lot of work, but in the end it read so much better. So writers beware! Past tense is generally preferred in mainstream publishing.

That being said, there are still many successful books written in present tense. If you're struggling to choose, pickup some books that use present tense versus past tense and see which one fits your book and style best!

Who knows your genre better than those who've actually written and published successfully! Connect with your fellow authors. They know a thing or two.

Find your writing community! It's amazing how much you will learn by connecting with writing groups on social channels. Facebook has many! Just do a quick search and find the right fit for you. Don't be shy!

I hope you find these tips helpful! Please feel free to Pin my Cheat Sheet Checklist To Researching Your Novel Genre Infographic below!

How do you go about researching your genre? I'd love to hear your insight.

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