Posted in creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing tips

Meeting reader expectations

read-515531_1920I’ve been working for a ghostwriting company on the side, doing writer engagement and training, and recently we discussed genre conventions and what readers expect from particular genres. It was a good experience to research the genres we work with, and I wanted to share what I found.

Below are some basic expectations, but I’d love readers to add to this list and/or discuss why these are important to meet when writing.

Religious/Spiritual

  • Focus on an inspirational theme
  • Underlying religious lessons or ethics
  • Encourage spiritual growth
  • Convey lessons about home/family, relationship, faith
  • References to God/God’s plan – few references to Jesus Christ
  • Lack of explicit sexuality – focus on emotion/relationship
  • Moral values, traditional roles
  • More defined framing of gender/gender and femininity/masculinity
  • Character(s) have strong religious convictions, or do by the end
  • Very light or no sexual content

Paranormal/Fantasy

  • Fully developed, realistic-ish world
  • Well-develop creatures that either follow mythology/folklore or are completely new
  • Well-develop system or magic/abilities that either follow mythology/folklore or are completely new
  • An epic journey – actual or self-discovery
  • Unexpected hero/villain dynamic
  • Use of archetypes
  • Romantic relationship with non-human/supernatural beings common

New/Young Adult

  • Unique voice/narration – often goes along with first person perspective
  • Character is in the correct age group (12-18 YA; 18-25 NA)
  • More simplistic prose
  • “Firsts” subject matter/Coming of Age
  • Tough subjects
  • Happy For Now (HFN) endings more common
  • Emotional development themes
  • Focus on the personal rather than the outside world
  • Parents are often absent, MC relies on friends for support

Hands Holding Hearts

Contemporary romance

  • Love is central to the plot, but lust can be the spark
  • Characters overcome problems, HEA ending
  • Full relationship arc – emotional develop is central
  • Modern setting and language
  • Realistic scenarios and outcomes
  • Developed romantic backgrounds
  • Realistic conflict
  • Secondary storylines used
  • Use of “sounding board” characters

Clean romance

  • Sexuality/romance is PG-rated or less
  • Focus is on emotional develop in relationship
  • Little to no sexual overtly thoughts
  • Little to no swearing/cursing
  • Usually no non-realistic elements
  • Usually limited to heterosexual relationships
  • Off-camera sexual encounters debatable
  • Focus on love not lust

Historical romance

  • Details are accurate to the time period
  • Time period is integral to the story
  • Gender roles very important
  • Focus on societal ideals/mores of the time on how it impacts the story
  • Theme is interpreted through the lens of the time period
  • Plot/conflict makes sense for the time period
  • Romantic interactions follow the time period social rules, for the most part

Erotica

  • Sex is central to the plot
  • Romance/relationship development is still important
  • Dynamic characters are a must
  • Typically told from the female’s POV, but not always
  • Graphic descriptions
  • Multiple (more than 2) sex scenes
  • Use of foreplay – descriptive
  • Tension runs throughout the full story
  • Unique tropes not typically covered in other subgenres (menage, BDSM, alphas, etc.)
  • There’s still a line not to cross – rape, incest, abuse, etc.
  • HFN or HEA ending

Romantic suspense

  • Suspense is secondary or equal to romance
  • Source of suspense is resolved by the end
  • Fast-paced plot, high action
  • Source of suspense jeopardizes the romance
  • Realistic details in a modern setting
  • Suspense/danger draws characters together
  • Characters are equally matched, or close to
  • Characters have a believable motivation to be involved in the suspense

Feel free to share any additional genre expectations!

a9d9a-handscarryingbooks1

Author:

DelSheree Gladden was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published. Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist. Find out more about DelSheree and her books here: https://delshereegladden.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.