Saturday, June 09, 2012

Genre Lengths

This will be the third in the "length" series and probably the last one.

There are many genres and subgenres of stories. Each of them have specific guidelines as to how long they should be.

I already looked at children's books on my first posting Wednesday.

What are the different genres we writers can write? You have nonfiction, fiction which covers a plethora of categories to include children's, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, short fiction, thriller/suspense, western and young adult (Source). There are also a plethora of combinations of these genres but that won't be the focus of this posting. Basically, I'll be looking at standard lengths for the overall genre.

Let's define the genres and then talk about length for each.

CHILDREN'S: These are written for the under 13 age crowd for the most part and usually include board books, picture books, early readers, et al. as described on my post a couple of days ago. The length of this genre varies according to the type of story it is and the target audience.

FANTASY: Stories in this genre usually contain a "fantastical" element - animals talking, werewolves or vamps, et cetera. These stories can occur on Earth or some other realm or world and the humans or other characters do "magical things".

HORROR: This genre evokes an "eww" factor in most humans. I think of Stephen King as a horror writer. I've not read his books but have seen bits and pieces of movies based on his books and to me they are all horror stories.

MYSTERY: This is the solving a puzzle or figuring out the unknown factor. Mysteries cover a lot of subgenres but the most common is the cozy. This is the story written where the murder takes place off the pages and the protagonist has to figure out whodunit before the end of the story. Agatha Christie, Carolyn Hart, Elizabeth Craig Spann all fall into this category.

ROMANCE: This is your basic love story but can get steamier than just girl meets boy, boy likes girl/girl likes boy and they fall in love and get married.

SCIENCE FICTION: This is the genre that covers robots and outer space, aliens and whatever one can imagine. The only stipulation to classifying your story as "science" fiction is that it must be scientifically plausible.

THRILLERS (SUSPENSE or formerly ACTION or ADVENTURE): This is the genre that keeps you on the edge of your seat because you are so caught up in the action and thrill of the experience that you forget you already know the ending.

WESTERNS: According to the definition of this genre, it is the only one that is time and place specific. This genre usually follows the times of the cowboys and Indians and the hero is usually the sheriff, cowboy, cowhand. Think John Wayne movies when thinking Western.

YOUNG ADULT: This is the genre geared for the 12 to 18, on up to 20 something year olds. This genre also has many subcategories. Since Young Adult stories fell in the length posting on Wednesday, I will only cover this one briefly.

From my research and several sources but one of my favorite sites states that most novels fall in the 50,000 to 110,000 word range, except of course children's books which I covered on my post of Wednesday. Most publishers will have their own guidelines as to the length of the submitted piece. If you are going to submit any work to a publisher, either by way of an agent or directly, make sure you follow their posted guidelines or you could see many rejections. Rule of thumb is to come under the maximum word count accepted so that you are less likely to be rejected for being too wordy.

If you are self-publishing, again, keeping with the overall guidelines on word counts for your genre is probably a good idea since you are building your readership and as an unknown, you don't want to lose a very large reader base out of the gates.

I hope you all have enjoyed my postings on lengths. Next week there will be some repostings from the Writers on the Move blog and then I may start my picture inspiration series showing some backstory in how I'm developing my novel, Imogene.

Since I still haven't given away a signed copy of Finally Home, leave a comment on this posting and I'll do a drawing for either a signed printed copy or an ebook of Finally Home. See you all in the postings. - E :)


Charmaine Clancy said...

Good sum up of genres. Thanks for sharing.

elysabeth said...

Thanks, Charmaine. I thought that website would help me with genre lengths but it did help me with defining the actual genres. Of course there are a good many subgenres that I didn't even cover. Just wanted to get tthe general length for novels. If you've read my posting from this past Wednesday, you'll understand why - thanks for stopping by and see you in the postings - E :)