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Which Genre is for you?
by Lynda Archard
©: June 10th 2000

The most daunting task for a new writer is to discover what you can write and where to place it. The first question is why do you want to write? Usually, you will want to tell something, which produces more questions.

What do you want to say? - Report a situation? Do you want to give advice about your career or hobby, pass on news, complain about something unfair, and make a suggestion?

How will you say it? - Make your reader realise for themselves using entertainment techniques (fiction perhaps), report information that you have discovered (journalism), teach (how-to books and articles of non-fiction, a quiz). Inspire by using true-life and personal experience. Perhaps you need to write a thesis for a University course, an exam paper or a letter complaining about bank charges. Do you want to explain, entertain, encourage debate, or teach?

Which genre does your work fit? - Romance, horror, sci-fi, crime and suspense, humour, ghost stories, westerns, true life or facts.

Who are you talking to? - Readers interested in your chosen subject, people who want ideas and inspiration, or friends and family. Adults, children, teenagers, or strictly females, males, or gay readers?

Where will you submit your writing? - Magazines, newsletters, book publishers, comics, a competition entry. Perhaps you are sending a poem for an anthology request. What about scripts for radio, TV and the film industry? If your work doesn't fit easily into a category then you might consider starting a new column here at Themestream.

The list is endless.

This should give you some idea of the extent writing can go. And all of these suggestions can cross to form other ideas. In between assignments you still need to eat and pay bills. Some professional freelance writers also submit several short pieces of information between commissions, called 'fillers,' of around 100 words each, compile quizzes or try their hand at making competitions and quizzes. Some editors would love to put quizzes into their magazines providing it is worked out especially for their publications and if they didn't think of it then perhaps you can give them the idea.

The difference between the hobbyist and the professional is simply that the professional is paid for nearly everything they do and the rest get great enjoyment with a hobby they like. Successful writers can write one idea, using different angles, to cover lots of pieces i.e. a walk through your local park can inspire the setting for a fiction story of a romantic encounter, perhaps a murder or both. It could also inspire you to write an article for the local tourist board describing local attractions. Other ideas using the park can include titles such as; what flowers and trees live in parks? This could be for a gardening and/or children's magazine and an article entitled 'Species of grass' for a technical article. A journalistic article could be written about how much damage is done to the trees by throwing heavy objects to knock a conker down.

Whatever direction you want to go in, you must research the market first. Do not send a fiction story to a publication that only prints articles. You will be wasting your time, the editor's time and money in stamps, paper, ink and envelopes. Buy the writers and artists yearbook from your local bookshop and find out what each magazine editor is looking for. If you see one that you think if good then buy a copy and read what they print, how it is presented and the style of magazine. If your writing is rejected please don't get offended - you might have chosen the wrong market, wrong subject or the editor had a bad day. Don't ignore it though - reread your work and look for possible errors and send it elsewhere. Never send it back to the same editor or you will irritate them and they won't consider you a professional.

Now you can put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and get started. Anything you start now can be finished later. Don't worry if, by the end of the week, you have several ideas started and nothing completed. Read my article called 'time-management' and you will see how it eventually comes together.

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© Lynda Archard