which genre to write in is probably one of the biggest decisions an
author will make. Do you write to the market? Do you write your
passion? What about writing what you read? For working authors, many
things come into the equation of what we are to write, but the good
news is that ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) can help you
grow as an author no matter which genre of fiction you choose to write.
ACFW is a premier writing
organization with this mission statement:
Our mission is to promote Christian Fiction through developing the
skills of its authors, educating them in the market, and serving as an
advocate in the traditional publishing industry.
As an organization, not only
does ACFW offer novel track and free
online classes to help you polish your writing, but its genre e-mail
loops hooks up authors within specific genres so they can discuss
trends, buzz-worthy books, and market trends.
The Christian market continues
to explode, even in tough economic
times, which proves that people are truly looking for hope. What better
way to offer them that than through story? We also have the very
prestigious Carol Award for published authors and the Genesis Award for
unpublished authors in each of the following genres:
Speculative Fiction (which includes fantasy, supernatural, and science
How do you decide which genre
best suits you? Study your bookshelf.
Grab your top three favorite books. What do they have in common? Which
genre do they represent? Is that something you can see yourself
Maybe your skills don’t quite
match your desired genre as yet.
That’s okay, growth comes with time and words written. It’s absolutely
essential to grow your skills as a writer, and often that can be served
by writing in a genre that requires a formulaic plot. Formula fiction
has gotten a bad rap over the years, but formulaic fiction is
absolutely what readers and audiences prefer.
The best movies are formulaic,
made up of a three-plot structure,
and when a movie’s plot veers from what’s expected by the audience,
it’s often met with a horrible box office receipts. So if your desire
is to write literary fiction, don’t thumb your nose at romance to get
yourself started. One book’s sales determines your next contract, and
so you don’t want your first book to be your only book. Consider this
when selecting what genre you’re best served in at this point in your
career. Since romance publishers tend to have a built-in audience,
you’re not fully responsible for finding your readers your first time
out, but with that comes the need to write to what that publisher knows
is their market.
If, however, you want to write
speculative and you know this is your
genre, you can continue to hone your craft within that work of fiction.
Contests, such as the Genesis, will help you to get feedback from
publishers, then you can go back to the drawing board and re-edit your
work until it is ready for the market you desire.
Another way to find your genre
is to free-flow write and see what
your writing voice sounds like. For example, I read mostly nonfiction,
and I love literary and saga fiction, but I write chick lit and romance
because that’s where my voice is best served.
With your ACFW membership, you
can float in and out of each genre
loop until you find the one that best serves your voice and your
writing career path. For further genre discussion, join us at www.acfw.com.