Writing Tip: Read What you Write to Know Your Genre and Your Reader
The two biggest mistakes most authors make are not knowing their genre or their readers.
Without knowing the rules of the genre or what the readers expect when they pick up the book, the author won’t be able to be gain a following. In addition, readers have expectations when they pick up a novel. Although they require uniqueness in the characters, plot and conflict, the story structure needs to follow established genre guidelines. The author needs to tailor the characters, language and sentence structure based on the target audience of the genre; the only way for authors to successful achieve both standards is to become an expert by reading the genre.
There are many books available explaining the specific guidelines an author has to follow. Nevertheless, unless the author has read it, there is no way she or he can possibly understand the complexities or convincingly write the genre. Sci-fi has different standards than a mystery. Even though fantasy and Sci-fi share many common components, they are very different. However, unless the author not only reads but also studies them, she or he will not be able to effectively write them. Two things both genres share are that their readership is well read and not shy about pointing out mistakes. Romance novels on the surface seem to be the simplistic in their style, but in fact, they are the most complex. From the traditional romance to the soft porn, the characters, plots and conflicts have established blueprints. Unless the author has a full understanding of what is expected, there is no way she or he will be able to find a position in the marketplace, because they will not be able to meet the readership’s expectations.
Short stories are usually limited to having one primary genre; however, longer projects such as novels and novelettes have subplots, which can cross genre boundaries. Star Wars would be considered Science Fiction, yet it also contains the romance elements with the relationship between Lela and Han and the fantasy aspect of using the "force". Romances are frequently mixed with comedy. Mystery and horror are commonly paired. Both are just two examples of the cross breeding in genres. The more complex the novel becomes, the more important it is for the author to understand the ground rules for each of the genres she or he utilizes. By breaking the formatting rules in plot, character or conflict, the author looses creditability.
Knowing the target readership of the genre is one of the most important aspects of how the author structures the characters, plot, and conflict. The reader only sees what the author shows and tells. By focusing on the wrong element, the author will not only miss the bull’s eye, but the target all together. Gender, age, education and social background are all factors the author must keep in mind when laying out the story. Even through age, education and social background are the fine tuning elements when it comes to romance, women are still the primary readership. When writing romance, the author needs to be aware of difference in how women see the world differently then men. Women don’t have breast envy--shoes, purses, hair and male companion most definitely, but they don’t look at another woman’s boobs and think I wish I had a pair of those. That is a guy thing. A western targeted for men or boys will focus on the action, the horses and the gun battles; if it was written for women, the author will talk about the handsome stranger with the seductive eyes and firm butt. In order to successfully attract and keep your target’s attention, the author has to know who they are and what they expect.
From Blank Page to Book Shelves--How to Successfully Write