First Steps To Write A Novel: Pick A Genre

If you’ve ever read a book and thought to yourself “I can write that!”, you probably can write a book. Many novelists start writing because they realize that they can write a better novel than one they’ve just read.

Let’s look at the first steps in writing a genre novel: finding out what elements a particular genre of novels has.

Genre novels are written for entertainment; they come with labels, like mystery, romance, thriller, and historical. In a sense, they’re the easiest types of novel to write, because each genre has expectations. In a romance novel, the romance must be the center of the book, for example. In a mystery, there must be a mystery to solve.

These expectations that readers (and of course publishers) have for a genre give you a handle on how to write that particular genre of novel. You start by deciphering what those expectations are, and how the elements of the book meet those expectations.

Tip: many publishers offer “writer’s guidelines” for their books. While these are useful, your own thoughts about WHY readers like a genre are much more valuable to you, because everything you write is filtered through your own experience.

Let’s imagine that you’ve just read an historical mystery which has inspired the notion that “I can write that!”. Excellent. Now do some thinking.

Ask yourself what you liked most about the book: was it the characters, the sense of place, or the dialogue, or something else altogether? Alternatively, maybe you liked the novel, but thought that the author could have done a better job with the plot, or improved the characterizations.

Write down what you liked about the novel, and also what you disliked. Be specific.

How Many Words? How Many Characters? Taking A Genre Novel Apart To See What Makes It Tick

When you read a novel, you’re drawn into the world of that novel. With a great novel, you can become swept away. To write a novel, you have to know how a novel is put together: you need to take a novel apart, so you can write your own.

Counting the words and characters in a novel may seem mechanical, but it’s vital information. They’re the elements which make up a genre novel. Once you know what those elements are, you can write your own.

Read the novel again, and this time make notes. Think about writing that genre of novel yourself. Reading as a writer is very different from reading as a reader. If, after reading the book as a writer, you still believe “I can write that!”, go ahead and write your novel.

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Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.