My last post dealt with the writer’s career, which might seem like an odd choice for a Genre Basics series. But an understanding of the differences between genres and how a writer’s career can be informed by those differences can be significant to understanding genre from a writer’s perspective. Similarly, length of the stories we tell is influenced by genre.
All genres produce flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels, and series. However, not all genres rely on these lengths to the same extent. For example, mastering the short-short and the short story is a great way to develop a fan base in speculative fiction and mystery genres, but there are fewer venues for thrillers and chic lit at these lengths. Relatively few literary novels become series, whereas mysteries and fantasy are well-known for series length works. Romance, on the other hand, often produces book series, in which the novels’ characters have little to do with each other—the marketing, the publisher and the style tie them together, not the characters.
Familiarize yourself with the length expectations of your chosen genre, and how those expectations influence your writing career, to better inform yourself regarding the skills you need to develop. Telling a short story is a very different thing from writing a novel. Develop the skills you need for this moment in your career, but do not neglect those skills you will need for future success.