Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A to Z Challenge: G is for Genre Rules

Welcome to April. With its customary showers comes the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with it:
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. (Source) 
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE 

My theme this year is EDITING

I'll be posting practical advice for editing any story, novel, or other piece of writing. Editing is something most authors struggle with, and after years of doing my own as well as that of others, I have a pretty good eye for what needs work. I'll be doing short posts on editing topics and (hopefully) dispensing simple, valuable advice to help everyone out there self-edit.

G is for Genre Rules!

Part of your job as an author is to know your genre rules. Every genre has inherent rules (stated or unstated) that readers expect to be acknowledged. If you don't know the rules of the genre you are writing in, it will be very obvious to your readers.

And why should you know these rules, you ask?

1) To make sure you adhere to them. Understand, this isn't something that should stifle your writing. Genre rules should set you free. 

Example: I have some critiquers that don't read much crime drama. One criticism I frequently get from them is to explain forensic terms in detail. I rarely follow this advice. Of course I make sure that it's understood in context, but I also know that most avid crime fiction readers will already understand words like victimology and C.O.D.(cause of death). The last thing I want to do is turn my novel into a dictionary of crime terms and insult my readers' intelligence. Genre rules actually help me make my writing more clear and concise.

2) To break them. Even if you're writing a cross over novel, or going against the norm, you need to know the rules in order to acknowledge them before you do your own thing. 

Example: Twilight. Stephanie did something with the vampire genre that hasn't been done before, at least not on a large scale. She made them benevolent with a code of ethics. She also made them sparkle in the sunlight. In order for that to work, she had to know and acknowledge that most readers would think of vampires as bloody-thirsty monsters who can't be out in the sun. If she hadn't known anything about vampire lore and hadn't addressed this issues, her readers would have wondered why, and it would have weakened her story.

Make sure and check your manuscript for rules related to your genre. Decide how you want to handle/acknowledge these rules, and edit accordingly.

Are you more likely to adhere to or break genre rules?


  1. I don't need no stinkin' rules!
    I adhere to most except I probably don't focus on science fiction terms and descriptions as much as I should. At this point, I doubt that will change though.

    1. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Don't want to bog down your story with too many terms and descriptions. :D

  2. I think genre rules are great, as long as everyone respects that they're more like guidelines (to quote Pirates of the Caribbean). Rules were made to be broken.
    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy

    1. Agreed! Love the Pirates quote. Thanks for stopping by! :D

  3. I love fantasy but I hate fantasy rules. It's without a doubt the most trope-heavy genre out there (well, except maybe romance). I try to break as many rules as possible.

    1. I agree, and I don't mind tropes as long as the author does something unique with them. I get annoyed when everyone tries to re-write Tolkien and Jordan. I pretty much stay as far from romance as possible. :D