Creative Writing and Memoir Jan 18, 2023

With Carol Brennan King

This week I am keeping my promise from last week’s class about talking about genres.

First, why talk about genres?.

Because you need to know what genre you are writing in since each one incites different expectations in the reader. Once you figure out the genre your book or story is in, you know the content readers of that genre expect. Furthermore, you also know the style and form they are accustomed to finding.

In other words, knowing the genre your readers are looking for, and writing so that your readers feel at home in your work comes close to guaranteeing success. But, not fully guaranteed because you still have to do good writing.

Nicolas Sparks puts it this way: Focus in on the genre you want to write, and read books in that genre. A LOT of books by a variety of authors. And read with questions in your mind.

I would add, as you read, what questions come to your mind? And can you figure out why the author sets the story up in a particular way? Figuring out the why in successful books helps you write in the genre you choose.

The general divisions of genres are two: literary and commercial.

Literary genres speak to the key features of each genre, not so much about rules but the conventions and approach a writer has to his or her work.

When I say there are four and they are the following:

  1. Poetry
  2. Drama – performed on a stage
  3. Fiction
  4. Creative nonfiction – telling a true story in an artful way.

But there are also Content genres. Think of that little card on the shelf in a library

or bookstore that tells you what kind of books you can find there.

  1. Action
  2. Crime
  3. Horror
  4. Love
  5. Morality
  6. Performance
  7. Society
  8. Status
  9. Thriller
  10. Worldview

Savannah Gilbo has much more to say about this. Just google her at: for some great stuff. For today, I am not going to give you everything you need to know about genres or that will simplify your job as a writer, but you will thank me for sending you to Savannah Gilbo.

Another place to look is and an article by Joslyn Chase, a suspense writer.

Once you have chased down more info about what genre you are writing in, you will have a great path to success.

The other thing we talked about this week was getting published. Did that get your attention?

If you want to publish something significant, it really helps if you have some name recognition. You get that by getting published. Starting small. Like articles. Like entering contests. Like putting your toe in the water where the water is warm and friendly at first.

I wrote hundreds of articles for a faith-based weekly paper. I moved on to a faith-based monthly and then quarterly journals. I began to build a reputation locally as a writer. And it didn’t hurt that I taught communications courses at a university and then locally to retired, mostly, writers.

I suggest that my students google Heimat Review and submissions guidelines for a place to start. A second place to look is Zocalo Poetry Public Square. Their current deadline is January 23, but check them out anyway. You may find their next deadline will work for you.

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