Which Genre Best Suits You? Find Out With This Fun Writing Exercise

WRITING PROMPT: Which genre would you most enjoy writing? Try this genre-exploration exercise and find out. 


Whatever genre you’re writing, one thing that doesn’t change is the necessity to build robust characters and believable worlds. In fact, if you develop a strong protagonist and antagonist or two strong protagonists, you realistically could put them in almost any genre. You may have to make some tweaks to their background, but it would be a fun exercise. So, let’s do it.  

So… in this exercise, you will develop two romantically entwined protagonists who are breaking up. Then, you’ll write several short stories of 2,000-5,000 words about this couple. Each story will be a different genre. The main plot is about a couple breaking up, but genre will influence the storyline.

When you write the story as literary as literary fiction and women’s fiction, you will elevate the language and style. Write it as a work of literary fiction. Your audience will expect you to dive deeply into the themes about relationship and how it affects the larger world around the couple as they break up. It doesn’t matter what happens to the couple in the end. If you’ve done a good job building your characters, readers will care about what happens to them, but they won’t enter the story with any expectations that the couple will break up forever or get back together. 

Now write the story as women’s fiction. In this version, the breakup will focus more on the internal landscape, how each character is handling the breakup emotionally and how it affects their other relationships. 

Write this same couple into a romance. Here, either or both characters may move on to find new love, or they may reunite. Either way, this story will end with a happy romantic union. 

In a sci-fi story, the couple’s breakup may have some impact on the futuristic world, or it may affect the space-time continuum, or something of that nature. 

Your fantasy story may involve time travel, occur in the past, and/or involve non-human characters. (Even fairy couples break up sometimes!)  

In a mystery, this couple’s breakup could lead to a murder. Or, if the couple are the crime solvers, their breakup could slow the discovery of the murderer, as the couple struggles to work together during this intense breakup. 

Do you see how the same two characters can have very different lives, not because they have distinct personalities from story to story, but because what’s happening around them is different based on the genre?

Have fun with this exercise and feel free to share your results with me!

For more on genre and reader expectations, watch this fifteen-minute tutorial: https://youtu.be/1BnA65s-zqQ

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