“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” – Steven Pressfield
“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters I’m not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” – Joss Whedon
Read the first four blog posts, then read up on at least one to three of your favorite genres that you are likely to write in, before moving on to the writing assignments below. Remember, these posts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning how to write a specific genre.
1.) Writing Groups: How To Write a Constructive Critique – by Mandy Wallace (This post has also been linked in the final course topic, which links more articles on this topic.)
2.) Create Your Very Own Story Bible – by J.M. Butler (Whether you’re trying to remember which character has blue eyes and which likes tea over coffee, or what clothes your Dwarf clans wear, some form of a story bible could help you keep everything organized and keep you writing!)
3.) What Genre is my Story? – by Renee Bennett
4.) Distinguishing the Subgenres of General Fiction – by Kisa Whipkey
What is Fantasy Fiction? – by Nicola Alter
Top 10 Fantasy Writing Tips – by George R.R. Martin
Fantasy Subgenre Guide – by bestfantasybooks.com
Defining the Genre: What are the rules for historical fiction? – by Sarah Johnson
Seven Rules for Writing Historical Fiction – By Elizabeth Crook
17 Ways To Write A Terrifyingly Good Horror Story – by Karen Woodward
Notes on Writing Weird Fiction – by H.P. Lovecraft
What Makes Literary Fiction Literary? – by Nathan Bransford
What Is a Literary Novel? – by Jane Friedman
Fiction: Genre vs. Mainstream vs. Literary – by Toasted Cheese
What Is Mainstream Fiction? – by Harvey Chapman
Top Rules for Writing Mystery – by Ginny Wiehardt
25 Things You Need To Know About Writing Mysteries – By Susan Spann
The Essential Elements of Writing a Romance Novel – by Leigh Michaels
Reader, He Married Him: LGBTQ Romance’s Search for Happily-Ever-After – by Christine Grimaldi
Science Fiction: Defining a Sprawling Genre – by Valley Christion
Tips for Writing Stunning Science-Fiction – by S. Alex Martin
A Guide to Science Fiction Subgenres – by scifiideas.com
The 5 C’s of Writing a Great Thriller Novel – by James Scott Bell
So You Want To Write A Thriller? – by Michelle Spring
Writing a Novel: The Western Fiction Genre – by L.A. Quill
How to Write a Pulp Western – by Ben Haas
Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
7 Chick Lit Writing Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills – by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs
How to Write a Chick Lit Novel – by Smitha Abraham
The ideas you’ll come up with here can be carried through the course as you learn how to improve them. Hopefully at the end you’ll have a good grasp of at least one of them to be able to write a story or novel with it. If you are already working on an idea, feel free to use it here, to help you expand on it and make it better.
1.) Choose up to three genres you’re interested in, and write down at least one idea for each one. (Or write three ideas for however many genres you’re interested in.) The ideas don’t need to be well-written, or long, they just need to be ideas, such as a plot point, a bit of dialogue…
2.) Come up with two types of characters you think should be in these stories. Keep them basic. Examples might be a detective, arsonist, secretary, cowboy… List one defining characteristic of each one.
3.) Where would you set this story? On Mars? Paris? After an apocalypse? A world like Middle-Earth? The Allegany State Park in New York State? Write the place and why you think it’s a good fit for your novel, even if it’s a fantasy world you haven’t made up yet. And if it is a fantasy world, what do you know about it already? (Maybe rotary phones are all the rage. Or the main mode of transportation is reindeer or bicycles.)
1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before. This is also a good place to reintroduce yourself, if necessary.
Getting in the Mood:
1.) Free write for 15 minutes. You can write a scene from your novel/idea and/or use this Random Word Generator to get inspiration for something completely different.
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing.
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.
1.) Get into small groups of 3-4 people. Have each person share their ideas while the rest of the group helps to expand on the ideas and round out the characters, by giving them unique hobbies, their favorite food… Then move on to the setting. Why did the writer choose that setting? Is it the right one? If it’s a fantasy setting, what would help make it better? The owner of these ideas should be taking notes, but remember, you don’t have to like, or eventually use, any of them. Just write them down so you can ruminate on them later. This exercise will prepare you for next week’s assignment about creating characters.