Landing on the right form and genre

Landing on the Right Form and Genre

Many writers have jumped from fiction to memoir and back again between drafts, when figuring out how to tell an autobiographical story. Or a writer might try their material as a poem in one draft, and then as flash fiction in the next. For a historical fiction piece that I’m working on, I started writing it as a novella, then, when that wasn’t working, tried it as a screenplay. There’s a good chance I’ll turn it into prose again.

So how does a writer know what form to invest their time in? In what genre will your content or story best be expressed? There’s no objective answer to these questions. But it’s fruitful to investigate what genres you love to read, what forms and structures resonate with you, and who your audience is (i.e. if you’re writing for adults or young adults your content will change). For my book, I saw it as a novel from the very beginning (it couldn’t be anything else), but I’m less certain when it comes to other material. Turning my novella into a screenplay, even if it doesn’t last in that form, helped me “pressurize the tension,” cut the fat, imagine the characters and world more visually, and find the real story. Even if you stumble a few times before landing in the right form, none of that work is for nought. You’re learning about your characters and world the more you write and rewrite.

Though we can’t prescribe a genre, we do hope you’ll experiment with us. We love shifting between forms and inviting you to try new things in our Sunday and Thursday Writing Workshops.

And if you know poetry is for you, or if you want to see if it is, our 4-Week Poetry Workshop with poet and artist Sarah Eggers, starts 10/21.


Posted by Carmiel Banasky.

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