Tag Archive - Targeting Genre

The Key to a Successful Novel Lies in Genre

If you asked me what is the most important thing an author needs to know to ensure they will have the best chance of success with their novel, I could sum it up in one word: genre.

You have to know what genre you are writing in. And, on top of that, you have to do your homework to be completely “fluent” in that genre. That means learning to identify the markers for that genre.

Readers have specific expectations that they bring to a genre. So that means you, the author, must identify your niche genre, write to those expectations, and be sure that all marketing materials, including cover design, perfectly reflect that genre.

That might seem like a no-brainer, but, sadly, I see a lot of writers clueless about the genre they are writing in and haven’t done their homework.

Let me give you an example.

Here are the elements of Southern Gothic stories:

  • Voodoo and spirituality
  • An air of mystery, and/or the supernatural
  • Grotesque history, especially focusing on the South’s history of slavery
  • Social anxieties represented in racial tension
  • Deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters
  • isolation and marginalization
  • violence and crime
  • sense of place
  • freakishness and the grotesque
  • destitution and decay
  • oppression and discriminat

Some Southern Gothic authors include Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers. You have to know not just the markers of a genre but the great authors who’ve mastered the genre. Then you need to study those authors. Continue Reading…

Half-Off Online Courses in July!

A few years back, I decided to create online video courses. Many writers had expressed interest in getting deep into topics that I had written blog posts (as well as an elaboration of my free email course on Amazon success, which you can take anytime, for free, by clicking on the link at the right).

Since I opened my online school, more than 1,000 writers have taken my courses! And I’m presently putting a new course together on emotion: a really intense, deep look at how to both show emotion in our characters and evoke emotion in our readers. I plan to launch that course this fall.

In order to encourage you to check out my courses, this month, July 2019, I’m doing something I have never done. I’m offering all my courses and course packages for HALF OFF. While you get to access these courses forever (or as long as the world and/or internet exist …), you would have to enroll in my school and pay for the courses in JULY using this coupon: JULYHALFOFF.

It only takes a minute to sign up. Go to my school (cslakin.teachable.com) and enroll by putting in your email and a password. That’s all! Choose which course you want to take, go to pay, and type in the coupon. Easy peasy! Continue Reading…

Deconstructing Best Sellers in Your Niche Genre

I’ve been studying thrillers because I’m about to write a thriller series. Even though I’ve written a couple of novels with thriller elements, I want to nail this genre. I want my novels in this series to fit right up there with best-selling authors.

And that has involved a lot of work. I spent a bunch of money flying to NY to attend Thrillerfest (and I’m so glad I did!). I took a masters class, and all-day ATF workshop (the highlight of the week!), I met with and shmoozed with best-selling authors. I listened to panel discussions. And so much more.

In addition, I’ve been doing hours of research online. I’ve made phone appointments to talk with experts (FBI, ATF, park rangers, lightning experts, etc.). I am heading up to Seattle to scout locations and meet with local ATF special agents and park rangers in Mt. Rainier.

Yes, I take my writing seriously, and that means I do my homework. Before I wrote my latest novel in my Western series, I went to Wyoming to get a feel for Laramie, the state penitentiary, and the environs. I also went to many museums, dug into newspaper archives, and read passages from books that I couldn’t check out and had been written decades ago that shed light on the 1870s (the decade in which my series is set). Continue Reading…

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