Saturday, May 11, 2019

Why You Should Read the Genre You Write

I've heard some debate lately on whether it's safe to read books that your story could be compared to. I think you absolutely should read those books!! I even wrote a post about how I write what I read.  Here's why.

When you read inside the genre of your WIP, two good things can come from this: 
  1. you get familiar with the genre so you can be similar enough to fit the genre and 
  2. you get familiar with the tropes that are perhaps more overused than necessary so that you can be unique. 
In my genre of contemporary Christian fiction, my book Martin Hospitality was similar in that it had a redemption arc and was very slice-of-life. However, I think it had perhaps less of a key romance thread than many, the uncommon theme of hospitality, and some unusual characters. And a different cover. I also hope it wasn't quite so flat or preachy as many CF books!

I wrote the genre that I'd largely become disenchanted with the way I wanted it to be. But I didn't sacrifice all the elements or I wouldn't have met expectations.

I think a great genre to look at for an example is dystopian. All dystopian stories have so much in common!
  • Post-war (probably nuclear) America
  • Faulty new structure of government has arisen (usually with different facets)
  • Young adult female protagonist who challenges the government
  • She becomes a leader (against her will) for the brewing rebellion
  • A love interest and valued family member raise the stakes
Yet for all those similarities, we get different things like The Hunger Games, The Divergent Trilogy and the Out of Time Series. Two I loved, one I didn't. 

So yes. Read similar books to your own to help you make decisions! People will expect certain things from you based in your genre. But being imaginative with how you do those expected things is a big part of how you stand out.

When you read similar books can also matter. Preferably don't read them while you're writing the first draft. This will probably be overwhelming. Chances are you've read some of the genre prior to now to prepare you. And maybe you should read a few bestsellers after the first draft to gives you some more perspective going into revisions.

Now actually finding a book that's similar to yours may be an easy mission or not. I've always struggled with this, but it may be straightforward for you!
Do you shy away or enjoy reading books similar to yours? What book would you consider similar to your WIP?


  1. I agree completely with this!! I write (most of the time, though it does vary) historical and western fiction, so I read (also because I just plain love it! xD) a lot of books in those genres. I also live on a ranch, too, so that gives me "hands on" experience!!

    Again, this was a really good post - thank you for it!

    ~ Lily Cat (Boots) |

    1. Neat!! That's perfect then. It's what you know and enjoy on all levels haha. :) I think that's one reason I like contemporaries ... Even though I write outside of what I'm familiar with, having them be present-day is nice for me.

  2. I read all sorts of genres and am trying to limit myself by not writing in all sorts of genres ;) Definitely agree with reading in your genre, though ;)

    1. Why not write all the genres?! xD I understand how that goes. Every time I find a new favorite show, book, or movie, I want to write something like it ... *sigh*

  3. Great post! (I loved Martin Hospitality!!)

  4. I love that you used my favorite genre to talk about this! It’s so true and plus, why wouldn’t you want to read the genre that you write?? <3

    1. Haha! That's a good point! It's funny because I don't read as much of what I write anymore. But it was a huge phase for me!!

  5. My dystopian isn't mainstream dysto, then... More like the TV show Jericho... xD

    Great post!

    1. Lol nothing wrong with that!! I think dystopian has branched out a lot into subgenres. ^.^ It's widely read and I think people enjoy finding something more different within that genre! I do anyway as I'm not a die-hard dystopian fan. ;)

  6. Great post, Abi!! Thank you! You have some excellent ideas here. I can’t think of any books that are like my WIP right now because it’s kind of in a new genre... xD I’m not even sure how to name it, lol.

    ~Katja L.


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