This is a great question, particularly if you’re a new writer or want to experiment. You have a massive paint pallete of genres and styles available for you, and combinations are fine.
Like primary colours, there is a set of basic genres. These include: action, adventure, comedy, crime, fantasy, horror, mystery, political, romance, science fiction and thriller. Each has its own conventions and reader expectations. If you pick up a James Bond action story, you expect spies, fights, explosions, gadgets and daring escapes, right? You don’t expect a dinosaur to appear. Fantasy, on the other hand, has different attributes: magic, supernatural forces...
Each category has sub-genres. Fantasy includes epic, high fantasy and science fantasy. You also have sword and sorcery, blending the heroic with adventure and horror. Horror is also a massive category in itself and includes monster, occult, slasher, survival and apocalyptic strains. Sci-f's also very diverse. Within it are apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, cyberpunk, space opera, feminist sci-fi, space westerns, steam punk, bio-punk - the list goes on.
Before you throw your hands up in despair, if you read widely, you will already know a lot of the conventions and traditions in your gut. So, write from your gut! It’s what I do.
My 5fingers series of novels are poly-genrre, with supernatural elements - angels and demons - as well as being firmly rooted in the real world. I use action and adventure cliffhangers, as well as and horror and thriller conventions to create mystery and suspense. As the series progresses, it becomes more dystopian.
Some purists think you should stick to a genre closely. I disagree. After all, it’s a rich paint pallete and it’s at your disposal. So, pick and choose from its shades and hues, my writer friend. JRx
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Joshua Raven, novelist. Read about my writing and my life here. And have you discovered 5fingers yet?