How to Write Within a Genre
In order to write within a genre, it is important to be aware of a genre’s limits.
- Choose a genre.
- Write a story using that genre’s style, form, and content.
Consider the prose subgenre of sci-fi. Science fiction novels have fantastical elements such as futuristic gadgets and science, space and time travel, and alien lifeforms.
Example Story 1:
The alien spaceship landed unexpectedly in Garth’s backyard on a Monday night. A bright beam of light broke through the darkness, abruptly waking Garth up from his slumber. “What is that?!” he exclaimed. Before he could say anything else, though, he felt his body rising in the air to be sucked into the ship. “Welcome, Garth,” a robot’s voice said.
In this example, the science fiction genre is expressed with imaginative details including a spaceship and robots.
For a second example, consider the prose subgenre of creative nonfiction. Creative nonfiction tells true, real-life stories in forms ranging from the memoir to the essay.
Example Story 2:
The scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier at a family income of around seventy-five thousand dollars a year. After that, what economists call “diminishing marginal returns” sets in. If your family makes seventy-five thousand and your neighbor makes a hundred thousand, that extra twenty-five thousand a year means that your neighbor can drive a nicer car and go out to eat slightly more often. But it doesn’t make your neighbor happier than you, or better equipped to do the thousands of small and large things that make for being a good parent.
In this excerpt from David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell writes about scholarly, factual studies in an interesting and creative way, placing him within the genre of creative nonfiction.
When to Use Genres
We naturally use genres whenever we choose to work within a specific style of writing. All writing falls within a general genre, ranging from poetry to prose to drama. Scientific manual writers are within technical writing, poets are within poetry, and fantasy writers are within fantasy. Genres are also used to classify other forms of art including music, film, and photography.